From early footsteps to adulthood: Two decades of achievement

Ambassador of Korea to the OECD

©Marco Illuminati/OECD

Twenty years of age is often regarded as the threshold of adulthood. Coming-of-age celebrations vary across cultures, but the common understanding is that once you become an adult, you are expected to be a mature and responsible member of the society. 

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Korea’s membership in the OECD. We would like to take this opportunity to confirm our status as a responsible and mature partner within the OECD. To celebrate this occasion and reflect on our experience as an OECD member country, we are planning various events in Paris, such as a 20th anniversary seminar and cultural events including concerts, the screening of a film, “Ode to My Father”, which vividly shows Korea’s painstaking development history, and much more.  

Korea’s coming of age within the OECD has occurred through 20 years of footsteps, which have helped us make great strides forward in overcoming various challenges and difficulties. In 1997, soon after joining the OECD, we found ourselves in the midst of the Asian financial crisis. The Korean government made steady efforts at overcoming the crisis and implementing structural reforms, working hand in hand with international organisations such as the OECD and the IMF. At the same time, individual Korean citizens took part in rescuing the country by donating their gold to help pay off our national debt.

Korea has taken initiatives in setting the global agenda, such as by chairing the annual OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) in 2009 and being the driver behind the OECD Green Growth Declaration, adopted that year. In 2010, Korea joined the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and officially became the first country to transform from an aid recipient to a donor country. Since then, Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) has grown faster than any OECD country in its effort to catch up with the more established donors.

Over the past two decades, Korea has enjoyed various achievements within the OECD. Per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity has more than doubled from US$14,428 to $34,502, and the trade volume has risen more than fourfold from $0.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion, evincing our greater participation in global value chains. The country has recorded outstanding performances in economic growth, employment, Internet penetration, R&D investment, and education. Indeed, Korea is among the leaders in international rankings of school competence among 15-year-olds, as measured under the OECD’s PISA surveys, to name but a few benchmarks.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, however, Korea, like many other countries, has faced slower growth, higher unemployment, a slowdown in productivity and a rise in inequality. Indeed, one can say that in becoming an adult, Korea has experienced growing pains, while undergoing various difficulties and structural problems. Indicators show that Korea still faces many challenges that need our attention, including relatively long working hours compared with other countries, not to mention high suicide and road-fatality rates, and a persistent gender gap.

Korea joined the OECD in order to modernise the country and become a strong global partner. We have put great effort into reforming and developing our laws, institutions, and awareness, which underpin our politics, economy and society. The OECD’s motto, “Better Policies for Better Lives”, is in line with the Korean government’s national strategy of fostering a creative economy, harnessing innovation, strengthening the social safety net and thereby enhancing social inclusiveness. In this context, the OECD’s recommendations, outlined in reports such as OECD Economic Survey: Korea and Going for Growth, are key elements in the government’s Three-Year Plan for Economic Innovation. The OECD provides many answers in the government’s pursuit of building a better society. The OECD’s Better Life Index and the adoption of well-being as a key element in policies contribute greatly to our efforts to promote happiness among Korean citizens.

The OECD, as a community with collective wisdom and vast policy experience, continues to provide invaluable analysis, perspectives and policy advice to guide Koreans in achieving happiness. As ambassador of Korea to the OECD, I commit on behalf of my government to contribute to the OECD community by sharing the unique development experience that we can offer, and having come of age, actively taking part in OECD work as a responsible adult member and contributing to building better societies worldwide.

Visit http://oecd.mofa.go.kr/korean/eu/oecd/main/index.jsp and www.oecd.org/korea

©OECD Observer October 2016




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016