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Development Overview

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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
Official Aid General

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General

The ROK as an aid recipient country

1. The Republic of Korea as an Aid Recipient Country
 
On November 25, 2009, the Republic of Korea (hereafter “Korea”) became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (hereafter “OECD/DAC”). DAC membership has special significance for Korea, offering official international recognition of Korea’s place within the ranks of developed nations. Indeed, though Korea became a member of the OECD in 1996, it took thirteen years of progress before the country earned its membership in the DAC.

“Unless there is a miracle, it will take 100 years for South Korea to recover from the Korean War.”

The above comment was made by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, who had led the UN forces during 1950 in their defense of Korea, upon his survey of the devastation inflicted upon the country during the course of the Korean War (1950-1953).

However, contrary to General MacArthur’s prediction, a miracle did occur; the“ Miracle on the Han River.”Within 50 years of the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities on the peninsula, Korea became a fully-fledged member of the OECD and within 60 years, a member of the DAC, which represents the 24 most advanced countries in the world.

Korea now has the capability to host important global events such as the G20 Summit and the Busan High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4). Throughout the process of its miraculous social and economic development, Korea received generous and substantial support from the wider international community.
 
[Figure 1-1] Koreans waiting for blankets distributed by the UNKRA
[Figure 1-1] Koreans waiting for blankets distributed by the UNKRA
※ Source: The National Audio Visual Information Service

By the end of the Korean War, Korea’s annual per capita national income was just 67 USD. Beginning in 1961 and continuing through the First Five-Year Economic Development Plan (1962-1966), Korea’s annual per capita GNP remained at similar levels, barely rising to around 89 USD. During this period, Korea was ranked among 125 countries as the 24th poorest. This was the period during which Korea was labeled by the UN as one of the world’s Least Developed Countries (hereafter “LDCs”), thereby belonging to a group which then included Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Uganda, Pakistan, and Togo. Within the span of only 50 years, Korea has managed to transform itself from the 24th poorest country to an OECD/DAC member country. During the period of its miraculous transformation, Korea received aid totaling more than 12 billion USD. In 1999, Korea was able to officially withdraw from the list of aid recipient countries.

Source: Korea International Cooperation Agency. 2011. 20 years of KOICA 1991-2010, Translated by Institute for Development and Human Security, Ewha Womans University. Seoul.