South Korea, widely wiewed as model for COVID-19 response, publishes planning resources and financial measures, invests in further vaccine development and economic relief packages

Upon the request of the World Bank, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (in partnership with the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ministry of Health and Welfare) published South Korea's health, quarantine, economic, and financial measures on COVID-19 in English and made it publically available online. South Korea will cooperate with the World Bank to support low-income countries on health and medicine and to develop and share preventive and quarantine measures that make use of ICT technologies. It has also received requests to provide diagnostic kits as humanitarian assistance from over 50 countries.

South Korea has been continuing its drive to combat COVID-19 domestically and internationally. President Moon Jae-in stressed during the G20 2020 virtual summit on March 26, 2020, the need for G20 countries to support low-income countries with weaker healthcare systems to strengthen their capacity to combat epidemics such as COVID-19. South Korea will contribute to the global effort toward developing a vaccine for COVID 19 and to improve the economic stability of low-income countries.

In terms of international cooperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced in its 2020 policy plan that South Korea will contribute US$3 million annually from 2020 to 2022 to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for the first time. South Korea will also be sharing information on COVID-19 response strategy.

Domestically, the South Korean government will also invest an additional KRW6 billion (US$5 million) in Korean pharmaceutical companies developing therapies and vaccines, in addition to the KRW1.6 billion (US$1 million) initially invested in January of 2020 for the cause.

Korea is also launching a program dedicated to putting vaccines into practical use this year. The 2020 budget of this program is estimated to be around KRW12 billion (US$10 million), much of which will be used for COVID-19 vaccine development. In addition to the supplementary budget, President Moon also announced on March 30, 2020, that it will implement a one-time conditional cash transfer program entitled 'emergency disaster relief money' to alleviate the economic impact of COVID-19 on Korean households. The payments are conditional, based on the household income level to ensure that those with a relatively lower level of income benefit. He also explained the government's proposal for the second supplementary budget, which is to be deliberated by the new members of the national assembly after the general election on April 15, 2020.

Press release – Ministry of Economy and Finance

News article – Yonhap News

Press release – Ministry of Health and Welfare (in Korean)

South Korean development agency and trade organization sign agreement to push forward implementation of New Southern Policy

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which implements grant assistance, and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOICA), a governmental trade and investment promotion organization, signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen the implementation of the 'New Southern Policy', which targets the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and India.

In particular, the two organizations agreed to help small-medium enterprises (SMEs) explore market opportunities in ASEAN member states and India. They also agreed to co-develop an educational program on the new southern policy which will include lectures on topics including official development assistance (ODA), target countries of new southern policy, and economic and investment status of the target countries. The education program will be provided to the public for free.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

South Korea

South Korea passes US$10 billion supplementary budget to combat COVID-19

On March 17, 2020, the South Korean parliament passed the government’s supplementary budget proposal of KRW11.7 trillion (US$10.0 billion) to combat COVID-19 and its impact on the national economy. The largest supplementary budget in Korea's history, the funds will be used to prevent and treat COVID-19, support businesses affected through loans and guarantees, and support affected households. Funding will also prop up local economies including that of Daegu city where confirmed cases are most highly concentrated. The details of the supplementary and existing budget plan on COVID-19 and its aftermath are as follows:

  • KRW4.1 trillion (US$3.5 billion) to support microbusiness and small-medium enterprises;
  • KRW3.5 trillion (US$3.0 billion) to stabilize employment and people’s livelihoods;
  • KRW2.1 trillion (US$1.8 billion) to strengthen South Korea’s quarantine and disease control system;
  • KRW1.2 trillion (US$1.0 billion) to revitalize local economies and businesses; and
  • KRW1.7 trillion (US$1.5 billion) to help Daegu and its neighboring provinces.

The government is also likely to request the second supplementary budget in May of 2020 as the parliamentary election will take place on April 15, 2020. During the 13th cabinet meeting, President Moon Jae-in noted that “the supplementary budget is not an end but a beginning” and that “this amount is nowhere near enough in light of the demands on the scene.” As of March 24, 2020, the total number of confirmed cases is 9,037.

Transcript – Chong Wa Dae of the Republic of Korea

News article – Yonhap News

South Korea Global health

New resource tracking donor funding for COVID-19

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a US-based non-profit organization focused on health, recently released a centralized compilation of information on donor funding for COVID-19. Their analysis is based on publicly available information and details all funding directed toward the global response to the virus. It excludes spending on domestic response efforts or economic stimulus.

Key findings include:

  • Governments, multilateral organizations, and private funders around the world have so far spent an estimated US$8.3 billion responding to the virus;
  • 91% of funds have come from donor governments, the World Bank, and other multilateral organizations; and
  • The World Bank is the largest donor so far (US$6.0 billion). The US is the second-largest donor (US$1.3 billion), followed by the Tencent/Tencent Charity Foundation (US$215 million), Alibaba (US$144 million), and the European Union (US$140 million).

KFF plans to update the tracker as this global health emergency continues to unfold.

In addition to KFF's work on donor funding for COVID-19, other efforts to provide data-driven information on the outbreak have begun to emerge. Our World in Data's COVID-19 article is a particularly useful resource. Their aim is to help readers make sense of early data on the coronavirus outbreak. The article will continue to be updated as the situation develops.

Report - KFF

South Korea launches capacity-building project supporting marginalized women in Vietnam

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) of South Korea announced that it will implement a project supporting marginalized women in Vietnam, investing US$1 million in 2020 and 2021. The project, entitled 'Strengthening Vietnamese capacity for sustainable reintegration of returning women migrants and their households in vulnerable conditions in Vietnam', will be implemented in partnership with the Vietnam Women’s Union and the International Organization for Migration.

The project aims to support the reintegration of female migrant returnees into Vietnamese society. It is estimated that 18,000 Vietnamese women migrate through international marriage annually; 30,000 are estimated to have returned to Vietnam. Vietnamese women accounted for 38% of international marriages in South Korea in 2019 with a divorce rate of around 30%. Legal support systems for returning women and their children are lacking in Vietnam, making them more vulnerable.

Five areas will be targeted, including Hanoi, Hai Phong, Hau Giang, Can Tho, and Hai Duong. KOICA will carry out several activities including the following:

  • Strengthening of stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of the need for better policy support environment;
  • Proposal of a roadmap for policy and program development (including baseline research);
  • Capacity building of Vietnam Women’s Union to respond to female migrant returnees issues through training programs in South Korea and Vietnam; and
  • Construction and operation of a one-stop center for female migrant returnees.

Press release – Korea International Cooperation Agency (in Korean)

News article – Vietnam Plus

South Korea

South Korea’s President suggests cooperation on health with North Korea

During the 101st March 1st Independence Movement Day address, Korean President, Moon Jae-in, said that the lives and health status of people in the Korean peninsula are closely intertwined and cooperation is important to address disasters and climate change. His remarks are understood to be related to the on-going novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as the African swine fever, both of which may have affected North Korea. Following the address, North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, sent a letter to President Moon addressing South Korea’s efforts to overcome COVID-19.

While a senior official at the Blue House (the President’s Office) said it would be possible to discuss healthcare cooperation through a separate channel, the Ministry of Unification was more cautious. The Ministry of Unification said that while it agrees with the idea of cooperation, South Korea has not received an official request for assistance from North Korea. Offering assistance to North Korea is furthermore challenging, given that the North Korean government claims that their country does not have any cases of COVID-19. The urgency of tackling the virus within South Korea may also make cooperation difficult.

Healthcare cooperation is highlighted in the Ministry of Unification's 2020 work plan (published on March 3, 2020) as a new driver for inter-Korean relations. The work plan says the ministry is committed to cooperating with North Korea on a number of issues including healthcare, environment, disaster prevention, and management. The ministry will also provide humanitarian assistance to marginalized people in North Korea through international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Transcript - Office of the President of the Republic of Korea

Press release - Ministry of Unification

News article - Kyunghyang Shinmum (in Korean)

South Korea Global health

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announces 2020 development assistance and foreign affairs plans

On March 3, 2020, South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced its policy plans for this year.

It included six priority tasks:

  • Continue to strategically and efficiently divide diplomacy roles between the president and the prime minister;
  • Take a leading role in driving the peace process on the Korean peninsula;
  • Expand cooperation with four neighboring countries (China, Japan, Russia, and the US);
  • Strengthen South Korea's role as a middle power country through alliances with partner countries across Asia;
  • Protect the safety and security of South Korean people; and
  • Promote diverse types of diplomacy such as public diplomacy.

This year, South Korea will chair MIKTA, a cross-regional consultative platform of middle powers including Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia. It will also host the Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) Summit in Seoul in June 2020. In November, a commemorative event will take place to mark the 10 year anniversary of South Korea’s membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). 

South Korea is preparing its third ODA mid-term strategy for 2021-2025 which will provide a detailed outline of its strategies for partner countries. The New Southern and New Northern Policy will continue to underline MOFA’s affairs with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India as well as countries in Northeast Asia (e.g. China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia).

Press release - Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korea

South Korea's development agency gives Cambodia US$25 million for socioeconomic development

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), South Korea’s main grant implementing agency, announced that it will give US$25 million (KRW 30 billion) to Cambodia to support socio-economic development. KOICA and the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board (CRDB) also discussed other opportunities for partnership over the next two years. 

Korea's Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC) published updated country partnership strategies (CPS) for Cambodia and four other priority countries (Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the Philippines) in January 2020. The revised CPS for Cambodia states that South Korean will focus its ODA primarily on four areas: transport; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); education; and regional development. Cambodia is one of South Korea’s 24 priority countries for official development assistance (ODA) and, as a member of the ASEAN group, a key strategic partner of President Moon's New Southern Policy.

News article – Agence Kampuchea Presse

News article – Asia Times (in Korean)

South Korea

South Korea marks five years as UN Human Rights Council member, reaffirms commitments to global human rights agenda

Marking her nation's fifth term as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha gave a speech emphasizing the need to recommit to the fundamental dignity of all human beings.

During a meeting with Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Minister Kang said that the Ministry will hold the second international conference on ‘Action with Women and Peace’ this year. This initiative was launched in 2018 to increase South Korea’s contributions in the area of women, peace, and security; the first conference was held in 2019 under the theme of global partnership to combat sexual violence in conflict'.

Under this initiative, South Korea has also worked with international organizations to help Rohingya and Syrian refugee women, as well as victims of gender-based violence in Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. 

Speech – Ministry of Foreign Affairs

South Korea

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon reelected as President and Chair of Global Green Growth Institute

Former United Nations Secretary-General and South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon has started his second term as the president and chair of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).

In a letter to member countries marking his new term, Moon said that 2020 will be an important year for climate action and that he is committed to promoting the GGGI and its priorities, including helping member countries achieve their nationally determined contributions and implement the sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

The GGGI is a treaty-based international organization established in 2012 to support and promote "strong, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in developing countries and emerging countries". It is based in Seoul and has 36 member countries, 8 of which joined during Moon's first term. 

Press release – GGGI

South Korea