Korea's economic success was originally based on industries
such as Shipbuilding, Automotive, Textiles and Steel but
in recent years Korea has become a world leader in such
sectors as semi-conductors and electronic products. The
drive to increase technology based industries and service
industries continue at pace, largely driven by the recovery
from the Asian economic crisis of 1997/1998.
From the early days, Korea's economic development was
dominated by the 'Chaebol' which were large family run
conglomerates. Since the economic crisis these chaebol
have undergone major restructuring in order to be more
competitive on the world stage and to improve profitability.
They do however remain a major economic force and their
names (Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Daewoo) are recognized
around the world.
Exports remain a major component of Korea's GNP and the
country's economic growth has been largely export driven.
Recovery from the economic crisis has been greatly assisted
by the devalued currency (Won), which ensured that export
competitiveness was maintained.
South Korea is a powerful economy and a major industrial
and trading nation. It has been one of the fastest growing
economies in the Asia Pacific region, with an average
annual growth rate of more than 8% over 3 decades. The
country suffered severe economic difficulties in 1997/98,
brought on by the Asian crisis, with economic growth
plunging to -5.8% by end 1998. The economy recovered
quickly with GDP growth bouncing back to 10.7% in 1999,
9% in 2000 and 3% in 2001, with a projected forecast
growth of 4-5% in 2002.
Korea is rising back towards its pre-crisis position
as the world's 11th largest economy. It is the world's
largest shipbuilder, 2nd biggest steel producer and
home to the world's leading semi-conductor manufacturers.
Although Korea is forecasting an economic downturn in
the first half of 2001, this has to be set against the
longer term view, which is optimistic.
Standard of living
Standard of living was affected by the economic crisis
of 1998 with per capita of US$6,823 for 1998. The turn
around in the economy has bolstered incomes and 1999
per capita GDP recovered to US$8450.