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History of Korea’s ODA

As a recipient country, Korea received ODA from foreign countries total amount of 12 billion USD. Ranging from emergency relief to structural readjustment programs, ODA significantly contributed to Korea’s economic and social development.

After the Korean War (1950~1953), ODA was the only source of capital, since the Korean economy had been almost devastated by the war. Much of the assistance in 1950s was focused on military support and humanitarian relief. Food aid and provision of daily necessities were also provided to meet the basic human needs. In the 1960s “growth” and “foreign investment” replaced “humanitarian relief” and “reconstruction” of war-torn country as Korea dramatically transformed its economic structure. Whereas ODA in the previous decade mostly took the form of grants to facilitate reconstruction, more concessional loans and other forms of financial investment came to Korea, allowing it to build social infrastructure and promote industrial development. In the 1970s and 1980s, stand-alone project financing introduced to heavy and chemical industries increasingly gave way to sector-wide loans or readjustment program loans aiming to reform the overall economic and industrial structure. The proportion of grants declined significantly and the sources of assistance continued to diversify. In the 1990s, Korea came to reverse its position from a recipient to a donor.

Korea ended its dependence on the World Bank’s assistance in 1995 and was excluded from the DAC list of ODA recipients in 2000; however, Korea’s history as a donor goes back to the 1960s.

In 1963 Korea hosted training program for public officials of developing countries for the first time funded by the U.S. To respond to the growing demand from partner countries, the Korean government gradually funded more of its assistance projects on its own budget. In 1977, as the first-ever assistance with official budget set aside for ODA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted equipment provision worth of 900 million KRW (about 2 million USD as of 1977). The amount of ODA provided by the Korean government reached a new peak in the late 1980s. Korea consolidated this significant shift by launching the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) in 1987 and establishing the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in 1991.

In 2010, Korea became the 24th member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the international donor's club. Upon joining the OECD DAC in 2010, Korea has continuously improved its ODA system by enacting the Framework Act on International Development Cooperation (Framework Act), and devising the Strategic Plan for International Development Cooperation (Strategic Plan) as well as the Mid-term Strategy for 2011-2015. Furthermore, Korea has worked to engage in the efforts of global development by leading the adoption of the Development Agenda at the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010 and successfully hosting the Busan HLF-4 in November 2011, serving as a bridge among developed, emerging and developing countries, and leading the launching of Global partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.

International calls for sharing Korea’s Experiences

  • “Korea, as the lighthouse for the developing countries, is required to share the experience of democratization and economic development” By Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General (August 2011)
  • “Korea is able to pass on its experience in economic development and provides many lessons to developing countries” By Tony Blair, Former British Prime Minister (September 2011)
  • “I would like to implement Korea’s Seamaul Undong in Africa because I believe it is a good example of how we can deal with poverty issue in such a poor country” by Jeffery Sachs, Columbua University(October 2011)
For detailed History of Korea’s ODA History of Korea’s ODA - pdf view button
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