South Korea Donor Profile

Last updated: March 2017


the big six

How will South Korea's ODA develop?

  • South Korea has increased its ODA steadily in recent years, and the government plans to continue to do so. ODA is expected to reach 0.2% of South Korea’s GNI by 2020, up from 0.14% in 2015.

What will South Korea’s ODA focus on?

  • South Korea is expected to channel considerable amounts of ODA through its flagship initiatives that accompany the Strategic Plan 2016-2020. This includes the ‘Better Life for Girls’ initiative promoting girls’ education and health (US$200 million for 2016 to 2020), the ‘Science, Technology and Innovation for Better Life’ initiative to promote R&D and entrepreneurship (US$200 million for 2016 to 2020), and the ‘Safe Life for All’ initiative to combat infectious diseases (US$100 million for the same period). US$100 million will also be allocated to the ‘Better Education for Africa’s Rise’ initiative that aims to foster industrial and technical manpower.

  • Overall, South Korea will likely continue to focus its bilateral investments on supporting transport and energy infrastructure projects in Asia, a vast share of which is in the form of loans. Eleven of the 24 priority countries are in Asia.

  • South Korea will likely continue promoting rural development, however the community-based ‘Saemaul Undong’ (‘New Village Movement’) approach is expected to undergo scrutiny when a new president comes into office, as this approach was introduced by the current President’s father during his time in office as President from 1963 to 1979.

What are key opportunities for shaping South Korea’s development policy?

  • ODA is expected to grow further in the coming years. As much of the increased funding is not yet strictly allocated to specific projects, this provides opportunities to engage with the South Korean government. This is especially the case for proposals that are linked to South Korea’s five-year flagship initiatives (see above).

  • The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye in December 2016, which was upheld in March 2017, will lead to a change in political leadership. South Korea will hold presidential elections on May 9, 2017. This may lead to shifts in South Korea’s priorities for its development cooperation, and provides an opportunity to engage with government and other stakeholders to shape the direction of South Korea’s development policy moving forward.





  • South Korea to increase ODA to Sri Lanka by US$300 million over three years

    The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that development assistance to Sri Lanka from the state-run Economic Development Cooperation Fund will increase by US$300 million over the next three years. Making the announcement during a visit to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera also said South Korea will provide an additional US$200,000 in-kind, as humanitarian assistance for drought relief. Marking four decades of diplomatic relations, the countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between their respective national diplomatic academies to strengthen mutual cooperation in the training of diplomats. In bilateral discussions during the trip to Colombo, the two countries focused on strengthening trade and investment partnerships.

    News article – Daily Mirror [South Korea]

  • South Korea announces increased cooperation in infrastructure projects in developing countries

    South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance (MOSF) announced that it will expand its participation in overseas infrastructure projects that are co-financed by international development banks. The aim is to advance South Korean business development in developing countries, especially through gaining access to infrastructure-building markets abroad. According to the MOSF, the state-run Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) will streghten its work with five major institutions: the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration.

    News article - Yonhap News

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