Both South Korean presidential candidates support increased ODA; focus on strengthening Korean development in lead-up to March election

With the upcoming South Korean presidential election on March 9, 2022, candidates and civil society are concerned about the future of the country's growing official development assistance (ODA) portfolio. 

People’s Initiative for Development Alternatives (PIDA), a South Korean watchdog CSO, reviewed the two presidential candidates’ views on ODA. They suggest, given the increasing ODA volume in South Korea, that the two candidates need to present a clear vision for coping with a growing number of ministry interactions, implementing agencies, and local governments. New measures will hopefully support South Korea’s international development cooperation policies and implement them effectively. PIDA also suggested that a more detailed ODA policy, pan-governmental climate crisis response ODA, and human rights ODA strategy are desperately needed.

South Korea has the largest ODA budget growth rate of all the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries, making the respective presidential candidates' stances on ODA particularly important for the upcoming election.

The ruling party’s candidate, Jae-myung Lee, suggests that ODA needs to expand for South Korea to lead peacekeeping efforts on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia cooperation with a focus on pragmatic diplomacy. The opposition candidate, Suk-yeol Yoon, expressed that South Korea needs to share its own success with other countries by investing more in ODA. Yoon's platform focuses more on sharing Korean values, while Lee's position focuses more on using ODA as a 'soft-power' form of diplomacy. All presidential candidates support the increase in South Korea's ODA budget. 

News article – Ohmynews (in Korean)