Korea has come a long way from the conditions it faced decades ago as one of the poorest countries in the world to become one of the world's leading industrialized countries. In the early 1960s, Korea's per capita income (GNI) was just more than $100, lower than many countries in Africa. The country has no natural resources and was almost completely destroyed by war. Despite the aforementioned difficulties, it has taken Korea only about half a century to transform itself into an industrialized economy, to become the 15th world's largest economy and the fourth Asia largest economy. Since 2000, Korea has joined the donor club – Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and last year became the second Asian member of the 24-member of the official Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD among others. It therefore represents a success story of once a major recipient of international economic aid to an aid giver.
For the international donor community, Korea makes a comparing case that aid can work. Korea since liberation from Japan in 1945 had received a total of US$33.1 billion assistance from advanced countries and international organizations. Significant assistance came from the World Bank, the largest multilateral development agency, established in 1944 to support reconstruction of world economy in the post war era. From the early 1960s through the early 1970s when Korea was still a low income country, the world bank provided interest free loans from the International Development Assistance (IDA). As Korea grew to a middle income country, the world bank provided low interest loans for instance in the late 1990s when hit by the Asian financial crisis, Korea received extra ordinary emergency support from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Overall, 1963 and 2003, the World Bank provided Korea US$15 billion along with policy advice and technical assistance. The aforementioned aid from advanced countries and international organizations to Korea was spent on building highways, factories, schools and infrastructure and organizing rural development programmes, etc resulting in turning the low income country into an industrial power house.
Giving its background as a former aid recipient and its present position of extending valuable support to other developing countries including sharing of her knowledge and lessons of its successful development and more so becoming major player in the comity of nations, Korea therefore has become a beacon for countries around the world. Korea's remarkable progress gives hope to other developing countries that their situations can be changed to achieve the same status. Korea's success in creating growth and economic opportunity could be attributed to its motivated work force, fiscal and monetary discipline, strong institutional capacity and efficient educational system and developed information technology, among others.
Lessons from Korea's miracle could be better understood for emulation through the promotion and maintaining of a strong and closer bilateral relations to ensure regular exchanges, cooperation and collaboration in diverse areas of interest and vital for our economic development goals