Korea in the OECD Observer: A selection from the archives

All articles are available at www.oecdobserver.org, except for articles published before 1999, which can be searched on the OECD iLibrary (www.oecd-ilibrary.org).

Koreans online

One country with an exemplary record in broadband is Korea, host of the 2008 OECD ministerial meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy. On broadband reach it is the seventh in the OECD in December 2007, for fibre-optics it lies second only to Japan and is well ahead of the rest of the field, and for download speeds, it is in a comfortable third, after France and Japan. Korea is also a leader in mobile technology.

Some 94% of households had access to broadband via computers or mobile phones in 2006, three times more than in 2000, and many hotels and public places provide broadband connections for free. In fact, Koreans are so “wired” that Internet addiction is now seen as a treatable condition.

(2008), “Koreans online”, OECD Observer No 268, June 


Korea's young workers

The Korean economic wave continues forward, with strong growth and low unemployment expected in 2008-09. But the upsurge appears to have left some younger people behind. True, at 10%, Korean youth unemployment is below the OECD average of nearer 15%, and though the country has a lower employment rate, this reflects a much lower school drop-out rate and high participation in education. 

“Korea’s young workers”, OECD Observer No 264-265, December 2007-January 2008    


Knowledge is power!

Korea’s economic transformation has been one of the most remarkable of the past century. From the ashes of a terrible war, in a short period of time it rose to become an industrial power, joining the OECD in 1996. Korea has now set itself the ambition of becoming a knowledge-based economy.

“Knowledge is power!”, OECD Observer No 240-241, December 2003  


Credit to Korea

Korea’s economic recovery in 2002–with GDP growth of 6% despite a sluggish world economy–reflects the success of its economic restructuring programme and the underlying dynamism of the economy. But this should not lead to complacency about resolving remaining structural weaknesses and addressing emerging imbalances, the latest OECD Economic Survey of Korea says.

(2003), “Credit to Korea”, OECD Observer No 236, March 


Korea: Better social policies for a stronger economy

Willem Adema, Peter Tergeist and Raymond Torres, OECD Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

Crisis, what crisis, is a tempting way to describe Korea these days. With the economy expanding rapidly again and unemployment below 4%, which is low by most standards, the traumatic effects of the financial crisis of late 1997 are receding in many people’s memories.

Adema, Willem, Peter Tergeist and Raymond Torres (2000), “Korea: Better social policies for a stronger economy”, OECD Observer No 223, October 


Korea and the OECD: A decade of progress

Okyu Kwon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy, Korea

In 1996 just when the Korean government took the initiative and worked hard to join the OECD, some media and civil society organisations were reluctant to extend their support. They worried, saying that it would be too premature for Korea to join the rich man’s club and would cause us great losses.

Kwon, Okyu (2006), “Korea and the OECD: A decade of progress”, OECD Observer No 257, October 

Drive your way: Secretary-General Angel Gurría admires Hyundai Motor Company’s shining works in Seoul, Korea, September 2006.   


Korea's work-life balance policies for sustainable growth

Hee-Jung Kim, Minister of Gender Equality and Family, Republic of Korea

Of the abundant resources given to mankind, what is the most underused resource of our time? Without a doubt, women!

Kim, Hee-Jung (2015), “Korea’s work-life balance policies for sustainable growth”, OECD Yearbook 2015  


Development and Korea: Yes we could

We’ll start with a close-up of a woman on her knees. She seems to be scrubbing some tiles. We track back and see that in fact she’s scrubbing the tyre tracks off a forecourt. Back a bit more and we see that she and her colleagues are in front of a huge conference centre. It’s covered with banners in Korean and English announcing the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, HLF4. There’s a metaphor there somewhere, and it’s called Busan, the host city and the world’s fifth largest port.

(2011), “Development and Korea: Yes we could”, OECD Observer No 287, Q4  


Science and technology in Korea

South Korea has experienced remarkable economic growth, with real per capita income increasing about ten-fold between the mid-1950s and today, when it has reached nearly US$10,000. In many industrial sectors, such as semiconductors, electronics, shipbuilding and steel, it ranks among the world leaders. As it stands on the threshold of OECD membership, Korea is determined to be one of the major industrialised nations within a decade. One of the main conditions for meeting that goal is to raise the standard of its technology so that in time it can compete on an equal footing with the most highly advanced economies.

Aubert, Jean-Eric (1996), “Science and technology in Korea”, OECD Observer No 200, June-July  


(1998) OECD Economic Surveys - Korea (Korean version)

More rights, please


(1992) Technological change in the Korean electronics industry

©OECD Observer October 2016




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q4 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Apr 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.4% Mar 2018
Last update: 06 Jun 2018

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