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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.

Trading Relations

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.

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