At a glance
- South Korea is the 16th-largest donor country on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), spending US$2.2 billion on official development assistance (ODA) in 2020 (current prices). This corresponds to 0.14% of its gross national income (GNI) making South Korea the 27th-largest DAC donor in proportion to the size of its economy.
- Since 2017, South Korea’s ODA/GNI ratio has been relatively stable at 0.14%. It committed to reaching an ODA/GNI ratio of 0.2% by 2020, but the government acknowledged its failure to reach the target in the ‘Midterm Strategy for Development Cooperation (2021-2025)’, citing worsening public finances as a reason.
- The National Assembly, the national legislator of South Korea, approved the final 2021 ODA budget of KRW3.71 trillion (US$3.2 billion), a major increase of 41% from KRW2.62 trillion (US$2.2 billion) in 2020 (2019 prices). The increase in ODA has in part been influenced by a growing sense of South Korea’s obligation as a DAC donor that used to be an ODA recipient until 1995, and the success of the multilateral approach during the COVID-19 crisis.
- South Korea adopted the ‘New Northern Policy’ and ‘New Southern Policy’ in 2018 to strengthen ties with partner countries north and south of the Korean peninsula. The 2020 update, called the ‘New Southern Policy Plus’, prioritizes cooperation on health and medicine, education, sustainable investments in trade, infrastructure, future industries, and security.
- The Mid-term Strategy for Development Cooperation (2021-2025) has twelve priority goals, including strengthening global health risk response, increasing humanitarian assistance, promoting South Korea's Green New Deal, diversifying development finance, and strengthening partnership with civil society.
- South Korea pledged a historic US$200 million to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in June of 2021 to expand the COVID-19 vaccine supply to low and middle-income countries. This is a significant increase from the previous pledge of US$10 million in 2020 and further strengthens South Korea’s multilateral response to the COVID-19 crisis as a policy priority.
- As part of the government’s endeavors to establish itself as a middle power country, South Korea hosted a scaled-down version of the ‘Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals (P4G) Summit’ in May of 2021 in which it highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships in the areas of water, energy, food and agriculture, cities, and circular economy.
- South Korea is scheduled to have a new presidential election on March 9, 2022. The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in (of the Democratic Party), has been President of South Korea since 2017.
- In the 2021 Annual Implementation Plan, an annual spending review, South Korea committed to doubling the ODA budget between 2019 and 2030. It will also continue to increase assistance for global health, especially until 2022 due to COVID-19.
- South Korea will prioritize helping neighboring countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will focus its ODA spending on five key sectors: infrastructure; health; education; agriculture and fisheries; and water, sanitation, and hygiene. Grant assistance will be prioritized in the following five sectors: education; humanitarian assistance; agriculture and fisheries; health; and public administration.
South Korea is a small but growing donor; the government aspires to double the ODA budget between 2019 and 2030
South Korea is the 16th-largest donor country among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). In 2020, it spent US$2.2 billion on official development assistance (ODA; current prices). This corresponds to 0.14% of South Korea’s gross national income (GNI), making it the 27th-largest donor in proportion to its economic size. Total ODA in 2020 decreased from the previous year by US$235 million in 2019 prices. As a share of GNI, ODA fell by 0.01%. The decline in ODA was directly influenced by the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 crisis and the local currency's depreciation against the U.S. dollar. In 2020, GNI per capita in South Korean won (KRW) increased by 0.1% but decreased by 1.1% in USD, decreasing the amount of ODA funding available as a percentage of GNI in USD. The National Assembly approved the final 2021 ODA budget of KRW3.71 trillion (US$3.2 billion), an increase of 41% from KRW2.62 trillion (US$2.2 billion) in 2020. The budget includes more ODA funding for health and humanitarian assistance, as part of its COVID-19 response abroad.
South Korea disburses a large proportion of its ODA as concessional loans. In 2019, 43% of bilateral ODA was disbursed through loans or equity investments, more than five times the OECD DAC average of 8%. Because such a large proportion of South Korea’s ODA is disbursed as loans, the OECD’s new system for quantifying ODA — which only counts the ‘grant’ portion of a loan as ODA rather than the total cash-flow —affects the official headline figures for South Korea’s ODA. (For more information on the changing methodology, see the Donor Tracker Codebook.) To allow for comparison over time the OECD still publishes ODA calculated using the old cash-flow methodology.
In 2021, the government published the ‘Mid-term Strategy for Development Cooperation (2021-2025)’, and the ‘2021 Annual Implementation Plan’, an annual spending review. South Korea’s Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC) requested an increased ODA budget of KRW4.08 trillion (US$3.5 billion) for 2021 to authorize more ODA funding for health and humanitarian assistance, as part of its COVID-19 response abroad. The final 2021 budget approved by the National Assembly was KRW3.71 trillion (US$3.2 billion), 9% less than the requested amount. It includes a 5% increase in budget allocation for 2021 requested by the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the COVID-19 response.
Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the grant-equivalent measurement system. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.
South Korea, itself an ODA recipient until 1995, prioritizes sharing its successful development experience and promoting inclusive development partnerships
The Framework Act on International Development Cooperation, first published in 2010 and amended in 2018, outlines the overarching principles of South Korean development cooperation and clarifies the responsibilities of different actors. The Framework Act sets out six pillars for development: 1) poverty reduction; 2) the human rights of women, children, adolescents, and people with disabilities; 3) gender equality; 4) sustainable development and humanitarianism; 5) economic cooperation; and 6) peace and prosperity in the international community. Supporting low-income countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and protecting the human rights of adolescents, were added with the amendments made in 2018.
The ‘Mid-term Strategy for Development Cooperation (2021-2025)’ translates the Framework Act into concrete strategic priorities for medium-term development policy and indicative volumes of the official development assistance (ODA). The strategy has twelve priority goals, including strengthening global health risk response, increasing humanitarian assistance, promoting South Korea's Green New Deal, diversifying development finance, and strengthening partnership with civil society. The strategy also states that ODA will be closely aligned with South Korea’s foreign strategy.
South Korea’s key development priorities for 2021 to 2025:
- Increase ODA: Double ODA volume between 2019 and 2030 (equivalent to 0.30% ODA/GNI by 2030)
- Focus on bilateral ODA: Focus on bilateral ODA: Provide over 70% of bilateral ODA to the 27 priority partner countries
- Grant/loan ratio: More flexible ratio of grants/ loans ODA at 60 (±3%): 40 (±3%)
Within the Mid-term Strategy, South Korea’s development cooperation is guided by an 'Annual Implementation Plan' that outlines specific priorities. In the '2021 Annual Implementation Plan', South Korea committed to doubling its ODA budget between 2019 and 2030. It will also continue to increase assistance for global health, especially until 2022 due to COVID-19. The share of loans and grants will be approximately 40% (±3%) and 60% (±3%), respectively. South Korea will also aim to increase the share of untied grants to 95%. The government will prioritize helping neighboring countries achieve the SDGs and will focus its ODA spending on five key sectors: infrastructure; health; education; agriculture and fisheries; and water, sanitation, and hygiene. Grant assistance will be prioritized in six sectors: education; humanitarian assistance; agriculture and fisheries; health; and public administration.
In October of 2018, South Korea adopted two policies to guide its future foreign relations: the ‘New Northern Policy’ and ‘New Southern Policy’, both of which serve to strengthen ties with partner countries to the north and south of the Korean peninsula. At the South Korea Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in November of 2020, the government announced an updated version of the New Southern Policy, known as New Southern Policy Plus. It lays out seven key areas for cooperation: 1) health and medicine post-COVID-19; 2) human resource development and sharing of South Korea’s education model; 3) mutual cultural exchange; 4) mutually beneficial and sustainable investment in trade; 5) infrastructure development of rural and urban areas; 6) future industries for mutual prosperity; and 7) non-traditional security sectors. These policies demonstrate South Korea’s intention to strengthen engagement with India and the ASEAN and to engage in more regional infrastructure connectivity projects (such as railways and power generation) in cooperation with North Korea, Russia, China, and the former Soviet states in Central Asia as part of the New Northern Policy. These policies are expected to increase South Korea’s ongoing development focus on infrastructure activities in Asia.
In addition to its thematic initiatives, the government has taken on a leadership role in the international push for increasing adherence to ODA effectiveness principles. Following the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in Busan in 2011, South Korea has hosted regular ‘Busan Global Partnership Forums’, bringing together stakeholders to reinforce the commitment to and track progress against the Busan principles: 1) countries should define the development model that they want to implement; 2) sustainable impact should be the driving force behind investments and efforts in development policymaking; 3) need for partnerships for development; and 4) development co-operation must be transparent and accountable to all citizens. In 2020, South Korea also re-joined the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) Steering Committee, a vehicle for driving development effectiveness. Both the Busan Global Partnership Forums and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) Steering Committee are considered of importance for South Korea as both followed from HLF-4.
South Korea’s multilateral approach has been influenced by its middle power and its strategic priorities detailed above. It chaired MIKTA, a cross-regional middle-power partnership between Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, and Australia between February of 2020 and February of 2021. MIKTA aims to support effective global governance on various issues including global health. South Korea also seeks to promote green ODA in lower-income countries as the Chair of the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) until the next Summit in Colombia in 2023. P4G is a global platform that drives investments in green solutions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
As outlined in the International Development Cooperation Government-Civil Society Partnership Basic Plan published in January of 2019, civil society will play a key role in enhancing the transparency and accountability of South Korea's ODA. Through partnerships with civil society, South Korea will strengthen accountability on the development cooperation process and results.
South Korea channels most of its ODA bilaterally
South Korea disbursed 76% or US$2.0 billion of its total official development assistance (ODA) bilaterally in 2019, above the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 59%. This includes 12% as earmarked funding to multilaterals which are reported to the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as bilateral ODA. Current ODA flows are therefore consistent with the target bilateral-to-multilateral ratio of 75:25.
Loans and equity investments accounted for 43% of South Korea’s bilateral ODA in 2019, more than five times the DAC average of 8%. South Korea itself had a positive experience as a recipient of ODA loans, and the South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance sees ODA loan provision as a tool for promoting fiscal discipline in partner countries. Despite some debate within the government about the risks of creating high levels of debt in partner countries through loans, South Korea intends to maintain a stable, high share of loans.
South Korea channels most of its bilateral grants and loans through its own implementing agencies (80% went through the public sector in 2019), mainly Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Korean Export-Import Bank (Korea Eximbank). It seeks to diversify its activities by promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs) such as the Global Corporate Social Responsibility Program, which encourages the involvement of the South Korean private sector in development cooperation. Despite this goal, only 1% of bilateral ODA was channeled through PPPs in 2019. The 2021 Annual Implementation Plan intends to increase the total grant share for PPPs to 5%. It also prioritizes civil society engagement, promoting a competitive ODA model and reducing fragmentation of development assistance.
South Korea’s bilateral ODA primarily funds infrastructure works
Supporting infrastructure through loans is a key focus of South Korea’s bilateral ODA investments. In 2019, the government disbursed 15% of its bilateral ODA to infrastructure projects, 14% to water and sanitation, 12% to education, and 9% to health and populations. Most of this funding was in the form of loans to Asian countries. Promoting inclusive and sustainable rural development, partially based on their own experience of development, is another priority of South Korea’s development policy. In 2021, the health sector received 12% of South Korea’s bilateral ODA, followed by education (10%), agriculture (9%), and water and sanitation (8%). Disbursements to infrastructure remained at 15% of bilateral ODA.
Bilateral ODA is concentrated in Asia
South Korea’s bilateral assistance centers on Asia, particularly its Southeast Asian neighbors. This focus was reaffirmed by the 2021 Annual Implementation Plan. In 2019, 47% of bilateral ODA went to Asia, significantly above the DAC average of 14%.
South Korea reselected its priority partner countries at the end of 2020 as part of the New Southern and Northern Policies (see ‘Strategic Priorities’). It currently has 27 priority countries for the period of 2021-2025. Of these, 12 are in the Asia-Pacific region, seven in sub-Saharan Africa (meaning the regions of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union), four in Latin America, and four in Central Asia. The largest recipient of South Korea’s bilateral assistance in 2019 was Bangladesh, receiving 5% of all bilateral ODA, predominantly in the form of loans.
Programming of bilateral funding for priority countries is set through Country Partnership Strategies (CPSs). Country Partnership Strategies outline two to three priorities for bilateral funding in priority countries. South Korea will update its Country Partnership Strategies for each partner country following the reselection.
South Korea has a strong preference for bilateral funding to lower-middle-income countries, but more emphasis might be given to low-income countries in the future. 72% of South Korea’s bilateral ODA went to middle-income countries in 2019; 59% to lower-middle-income countries and 13% to upper-middle-income countries. Low-income countries received 15% of total bilateral ODA. This is significantly different from the DAC average of 41% of bilateral ODA to middle-income countries of which 24% to lower-middle-income countries and 17% to upper-middle-income countries. Low-income countries received on average 18% of total bilateral ODA from DAC donors. South Korea has said it will allocate more ODA to low and lower-middle-income countries, but no target was set in the 2021 Annual Implementation Plan.
South Korea provides a low proportion of ODA to multilateral organizations, but its support to global health has dramatically increased
Only 24% of South Korea’s ODA is channeled as core funding to multilaterals, compared to the DAC average of 41%. This share has been relatively consistent since South Korea joined the DAC in 2010. 12% of funding in 2019 was earmarked funding to multilaterals, close to the DAC average of 14%.
Historically, South Korea is not a big financial supporter of multilateral organizations. Its COVID-19 response however included a stronger multilateral approach and funding. South Korea was invited to the Group of Seven (G7) summit as a guest nation in June of 2021 where it pledged a historic US$200 million to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC); a significant increase from the previous pledge of US$10 million in 2020. The pledge allocates US$100 million for 2021 and an additional US$100 million in financial and in-kind contributions for 2022 to expand the COVID-19 vaccine supply to lower-income countries.
South Korea made two major pledges for the 2020-2022 period, pledging US$25 million to the Global Fund at its sixth replenishment to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and US$9 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate vaccines developments of emerging infectious diseases with epidemic potential and enable equitable access to vaccines in lower-income countries. South Korea contributed an additional US$1 million to Unitaid in 2020 to increase access to COVID-19 diagnostics through the Diagnostic Partnership of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). South Korea joined ACT-A as a Facilitation Council member, providing strategic advice and guidance to ACT-A, and is one of eight countries — with the US, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and Mexico — in the 'market leader group'.
South Korea’s funding to Gavi AMC, the Global Fund, CEPI, and ACT-A have dramatically increased over the courses of the pandemic, but funding from the Global Disease Eradication Fund (GDEF, a government program that aims to prevent and eradicate infectious diseases in partner countries) suffered significant losses. GDEF funds are raised through taxation on international flights departing from Korea. In the past, South Korea has supported several projects of multilateral organizations with GDEF funding, but limited travel during lockdown directly impacted its resource levels, with financing shrinking by 36% from KRW63.2 billion (US$54 million) in 2020 to KRW40.7 billion (US$35 million) in 2021. GDEF funding to multilaterals decreased by 73% between 2020 and 2021 from KRW31.2 billion (US$27 million) to KRW8.3 billion (US$7 million).
According to the 2021 Annual Implementation Plan, South Korea will pursue ‘strategic partnerships’ for health with the Global Fund and Gavi. South Korea joined the board of the Global Fund in 2018 and is the Global Fund’s third-largest supplier of diagnostic tests and the sixth-largest supplier of essential health products. South Korea provides limited core contributions to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). It makes no contributions to United Nations Population Fund Supplies Partnership that delivers contraceptives and maternal health medicines to adolescents and women. It has, however, made other non-core contributions for various UNFPA programs in recent years.
The South Korean government has stated its intention to expand multilateral collaboration in response to global challenges, including climate change and humanitarian crises. In 2016, the South Korean government published a ‘Multilateral Aid Strategy’ identifying the following five United Nations (UN) agencies as compatible partners with their policy focus: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); World Food Programme (WFP); United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)’ World Health Organization (WHO); and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2021, 16% of total multilateral funding will be provided to these five UN agencies.
Unless otherwise indicated, all data in this section is based on the cash-flow basis measurement system. For more information, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.
For more granular and up-to-date development finance data on South Korea, including information on where and in which sectors it is spending both ODA and non-ODA funds, please consult the IATI d-portal. IATI is a reporting standard and platform on which organizations and governments voluntarily publish data on their development cooperation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economy and Finance steer policy; KOICA and the Korea Eximbank lead implementation
The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in (of the Democratic Party), leads the government and sets broad strategic guidelines for development cooperation including official development assistance (ODA) volumes and thematic priorities. He is supported by the Prime Minister. The President’s directions are honored by ministries and agencies. Mr. Moon has been President of South Korea since 2017, following the impeachment of the previous President, Park Geun-hye. Kim Boo-kyum has been Prime Minister since May 2021. Within the Prime Minister’s office, Sohn Dong-Gyun is the Director-General of the ODA Bureau.
Two ministries guide development policy under the overall policy and decision-making authority of the President: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF).
- MOFA, led by Minister Chung Eui-yong, sets policies and priorities for bilateral grants and multilateral ODA channeled through the UN and other multilateral instruments, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Director-General (currently Cho Yeong-moo) is responsible for the Development Cooperation Bureau that oversees policies regarding ODA and grant policies, multilateral aid with non-international financial institutions, and humanitarian assistance. It also works with implementing agencies.
- MOEF, led by Minister Hong Nam-ki, sets policies for ODA loans and manages contributions to International Financial Institutions. It also supervises South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), which finances bilateral loans, and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) which implements them. In addition, MOEF sets the national budget, and its Budget Office can veto grants and loans proposed by MOFA that do not meet project approval criteria. The Director-General (currently Lee Jong Hwa) is responsible for the Development Finance Bureau that oversees the concessional loan policies, multilateral aid for international financial institutions and works with EDCF in the implementation of concessional loans.
Within these ministries, key actors include:
- The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), overseen by MOFA, is a key player in development policy implementation in South Korea. The agency was founded in 1991 and provides bilateral grants and technical cooperation. It has 42 country offices and representatives dispatched to the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Hyuk-Sang Sohn took over as President of KOICA in 2020.
- The Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) was established in 1987 to promote economic cooperation between South Korea and partner countries through loans. MOEF is responsible for the operations and policymaking of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund. Eximbank manages and implements loans from this fund. Eximbank supports South Korea’s economic development through strengthening exports, imports, and overseas investment projects.
KOICA and EDCF are overseen by the Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC), the coordinating body responsible for deciding on major ODA-related policies. CIDC was established in 2006 and meets approximately three times per year. It consists of 25 members including the Prime Minister (the Chair), cabinet members, the President of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the Chair of the Korea Eximbank, and eleven civilian experts. The Sub-Committee for Evaluation is composed of 1) the Head of the Planning and Coordination Office of the Prime Minister’s Office (chair), 2) the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), 3) the Director-General of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF), 4) executives from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), 5) executives of the Korea Eximbank, and 6) eight representatives from academia and civil society. The latest OECD Development Co-operation Peer Review, published in 2018, found that the CIDC’s involvement in priority-setting has strengthened quality assurance and result management in South Korea's development cooperation.
Parliament: The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, the Parliament, can influence the direction of South Korea’s development policy and budget. The National Assembly votes on, amends as necessary, and approves the budget bill presented by the government. Within the National Assembly, the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee is responsible for development cooperation and can change overall ODA spending amounts and specific allocations through its Sub-Committee on Budget. The Parliament provides the legal basis for South Korea’s ODA policies. The Democratic Party led by President Moon Jae-in won a substantial majority in the April 2020 general election. The new chair of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee is Song Young-Gil of the ruling party.
Civil Society: South Korean civil society organizations (CSOs) are involved in policymaking and are increasingly playing a greater role in ODA implementation.
MOFA and MOEF manage three-quarters of the ODA budget with limited ministerial discretion over respective budgets
According to the '2021 Annual Implementation Plan', the majority (80%) of South Korean official development assistance (ODA) is provided by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF, 47%) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 37%). The remaining 16% is divided across other ministries and agencies, including regional or provincial governments, all of which have their respective ODA budgets.
South Korea’s overall ODA budget includes breakdowns by sector, region, ministry, and implementing agency. It also sets out how much funding is allocated to bilateral and multilateral channels within each ministry’s budget. The annual budget also lists concrete activities to be funded from each ministry’s budget, allowing very limited ministerial discretion over their respective budgets once each has been approved by the Parliament.
According to the approved ODA budget for 2021, 78% will be allocated as bilateral ODA (including earmarked funding to multilateral organizations) and the remaining 22% will be channeled as core funding to multilaterals. Within bilateral assistance, 57% will be allocated as grants and 43% as concessional loans. South Korea will also continue to focus its development cooperation on Asia (41%) and Africa (19%).
Within individual agencies, 84% (KRW1.34 trillion, US$1.1 billion) of MOEF’s ODA budget will be delivered bilaterally, almost exclusively as concessional loans through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF). Only 5% of MOEF’s bilateral ODA (KRW79.2 billion, US$68 million) will be delivered as grants. KRW256.0 billion (US$220 million) will be provided as multilateral funding.
The ODA-related budget of MOFA has two major funding lines: bilateral grants and multilateral organizations. Bilateral grants account for 87% of ODA (KRW1.07 trillion, US$916 million) from MOFA, broken down into projects/programs, technical assistance channeled through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and funding delivered through public-private partnerships. Multilateral ODA accounts for the remaining 13% of the MOFA’s ODA-related budget (KRW166 billion, US$142 million) and comprises of assessed and voluntary contributions to international organizations, such as the Global Fund.
Korea's ODA budget 2020
|Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF)||1,593||1,367|
|Economic Development Cooperation Fund loans||1,258||1,080|
|Grants (including Committee for International Development Cooperation spending)||79||68|
|Multilateral (assessed and voluntary contributions incl. Global Agriculture and Food Security Program)||256||220|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)||1,232||1,057|
|Project and programs||539||463|
|Development consultation and other spending||285||245|
|Multilateral (assessed and voluntary contributions incl. funding to the Global Fund)||166||142|
|Other ministries, of which||426||366|
|Ministry of Health (incl. funding for the World Health Organization)||68||58|
|Ministry of Agriculture (incl. funding to Food and Agriculture Organization||101||87|
|Prime Minister’s Office (including Committee for International Development Cooperation spending)||10||9|
|International financial institutions (IFI)||605||519|
|UN and other agencies (including UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP, UN Women)||223||191|
|Total ODA spending||3,115||3,427|
The figures presented in the table above do not add up or fully reflect all ODA spending for several reasons associated with a lack of transparency. First, funding flows from ministries beyond the 14-largest in the South Korean government as well as regional and provincial governments are not included in the budget table but do disburse some ODA. Discrepancies also result from double counting of funding for some International Financial Institutions (IFIs), United Nations agencies, and other agencies. The 2021 Implementation Plan makes clear that the double-counted amount for IFIs is KRW67 billion worth of concessional loans to Asian Development Bank (ADB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Green Climate Fund (GCF), which are included in MOEF's budget as well as in the budget line for total IFIs. The document also states that South Korea’s total multilateral assistance to 15 "UN and other agencies" in 2021 is KRW223 billion (US$191 million), but it stops short of specifying which agencies are included in this category. This makes it difficult to determine the exact amount of funding that has been double counted in the budget table.
Overall, ODA levels are set by MOEF between January and April; specific allocations are made between July and October
- Ministries submit medium-term finance plans: Each ministry submits a medium-term spending plan to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) by the end of January. Based on this, MOEF draws up budget guidelines including spending limits for each ministry.
- Ministries develop budgets: Between May and June, ministries develop their budgets for the coming year, based on the limits set by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. At this stage, relevant ministries, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), develop proposals for sectoral and geographic allocations of the official development assistance (ODA). Key stakeholders are the Directors-General of the ministries, as they submit the ministerial budgets for review in June.
- The Committee for International Development Cooperation debates budget allocations: Between July and September, ministries that have a role in dispersing ODA negotiate their sectoral and geographic allocations. This process is led by the Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC). It includes expert consultations followed by a review by the Committee and final approval by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
- The government submits its draft budget: By the beginning of September, the government submits its draft budget to the Parliament (National Assembly) for debate, amendments, and approval. Once the budget has been submitted, committees within the National Assembly review the draft budget in detail. The Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee is responsible for the ODA budget. Following the review, the Special Committee on Budget and Accounts conducts an overall review of the budget draft.
- Parliament approves the budget: In December, the National Assembly votes on the ODA budget in a plenary session.