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Korea, new role model for development assistance

Amid the global economic downturn of recent years, the Republic of Korea has constantly expanded the scope of its official development assistance (ODA), becoming a new role model in development aid.

According to reference statistics issued by the Development Cooperation Directorate (DCD), an OECD directorate under which the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) operates, the volume of ODA from the Republic of Korea reached USD 1.32 billion in 2011.

The figure states a 5.8% increase from the USD 1.17 billion total in donations in 2010, Korea’s first full year of membership after joining the DAC in November 2009. Compared to 2008, the inaugural year of the incumbent administration, South Korea recorded a nominal 64.6% increase from the 800 million mark.

While 16 out of 23 DAC member states have seen a decline in ODA, Korea has maintained its solid commitment to increasing its multilateral development assistance for five consecutive years since 2006. The ROK ranked 17th in the ODA share, one notch up from the previous year, and the OECD noted with appreciation the growing trend of ODA from South Korea, Italy, and Switzerland among others. The top five ranks included the United States, Germany, the UK, France, and Japan.

Drawing on Korea’s own development experience, the government has promoted economic cooperation with partnered developing countries through its Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF, www.edcfkorea.go.kr) since 1987. Korea has gradually expanded the EDCF volume by providing funding for not only their industrial development and economic stability, but also supporting their sustainable development and environmentalism in line with Korea’s “Low Carbon, Green Growth” strategy.

President Lee Myung-bak gives a welcoming address at the opening ceremony of the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in BEXCO President Lee Myung-bak gives a welcoming address at the opening ceremony of the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in BEXCO (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).


Korea’s development experience has received an ever-increasing amount of attention from an international audience, as well.

As of today, Korea remains the only country to date to have transitioned from aid recipient to aid donor and going from one of the poorest countries buried under the ashes of the Korean War in the mid-20th century to joining the OECD Development Assistance Committee, becoming an exemplar role model among the newly developing and least developed nations.

On March 24, Chairman Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs Asset Management -- who is best known for his prominent grouping acronym of “the BRICs,” (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) often used as a symbol of the global economic power shift -- advised developing countries to “copy Korea.” “South Korea should be regarded as the role model and goal for BRIC countries,” he added in his weekly “Viewpoints” entitled “Sustainable Growth, Development and Financial Markets.”

Along with a positive evaluation from Goldman Sachs, Korea continues to attract a considerable amount of attention as the host of important international events, such as the Nuclear Security Summit and the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, just to name a few. Korean multinationals’ successful expansion across the world as well as the recent appointment of Korean-born American Jim Yong Kim as the head of the World Bank brings even more focused interest to this small country in East Asia.

President Lee Myung-bak attends the Korea-Ethiopia Development Experience Sharing Workshop held last July during his state visit to Ethiopia President Lee Myung-bak attends the Korea-Ethiopia Development Experience Sharing Workshop held last July during his state visit to Ethiopia (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).


Meanwhile, Korea marks the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of its five-year economic development plan this year. The government-led economic development project, which lasted for decades, has placed a shift of focus to an export-oriented industrialization policy leading to dramatic economic growth and modernization in a half-century period. In celebration of the anniversary, the Korean government is set to host a number of events as a stage to share Korea’s development experience overseas.

For more information on Korea’s Knowledge Sharing Program, please visit the official website at: www.ksp.go.kr.

To view the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate (DCD-DAC) Aid Statistics, click here: www.oecd.org/dac/stats/reftables

By Hwang Dana
Korea.net Staff Writer

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