South Korea at a Glance

In 1960, 33% of the nation’s GDP came from agriculture and fishing, while manufacturing accounted for just 16%. By 2010, agriculture and fishing was less than 5% of the national GDP, while manufacturing was responsible for over 50% of it. Korea has undergone an amazing economic metamorphosis over the past 50 years, and has become a major player in the global economy.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997 had an important role in Korea’s economic growth. When it hit, a number of reforms were introduced in order to encourage the liberalization of the economy, increased corporate governance and a more secure social safety net. With these reforms in place, Korea was able to quickly recover from the crisis, and now had the foundation for building a strong corporate and financial sector. Its economy accounted for 1.6% of the global GDP at the end of 2012.

Based on studies conducted by the World Bank, Korea is set to become one of the world’s wealthiest nations in the future. Its per capita GDP ranking is expected to rise to eighth in 2025, which would put it just behind countries like the US, Canada and the UK.

Given that Korea’s economy is export-oriented, it is important for Korea to be globally competitive. To accomplish this, many Korean companies are placing greater focus on improving their brand name to increase the value of their products. In the electronics industry in particular, Korea has become a major force, with a significant market share of global electronic equipment sales. Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, which have the largest market capitalization among Korean electronics companies, have an even higher market share in the television industry and in mobile phone hardware. By volume, Korea’s global mobile handset market share went from 24% in 2011 to 29% in 2012, surpassing NOKIA for the first time in last 14 years.