As the international status of Korea continues to grow, the Korean government continues to play active roles on the world stage. One truly symbolic highlight for Korea was hosting the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. Another benchmark accomplishment was the acceptance of Korea into membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996. Since then, the participation of the nation in the OECD has solidified the importance of Korea in world affairs.
Korea has engaged in international cooperation and development in several ways since the late 1980s. The Korean government established the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) in 1987 to offer international loans. In 1991, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) was set up to provide grants and volunteers for a wide range of collaborative projects worldwide. Korea also joined the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in the OECD in January 2010, signifying the role of the nation as an active donor for global development. Specifically, official development assistance by Korea is both bilateral and multilateral. Members of the Korean Overseas Volunteers (KOV) have been dispatched to many parts of the world. Thus far, the effort to provide international assistance has focused on these regions: Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Africa, and Latin America.
The Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Korean government provides grants or loans for promoting economic development and welfare of developing countries. Korea, as a member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, has provided grants and loans to many developing countries all around the world. The “Official Development Assistance from Korea” map shows the cumulative amount of Korean grants from 2010 to 2012, normalized by the population of the receiving country. It also shows the number of Korean overseas volunteers and the engaged sectors within each country. Many volunteers at present are involved in education, agriculture, fisheries, and public health.
The graph of “Official Development Assistance by Type” presents the yearly totals of ODA by type from 1990 to 2012. It also tracks the ratio of ODA to Gross National Income (GNI). Note that the ratio has increased continuously since 1990. An exceptionally high value is observed in 2005 due to the tsunami disaster in South Asia.
The ODA may be classified into two categories: bilateral and multilateral. The bilateral assistance can be further divided into grants and loans. The graph shows that Korea has increased assistance in all types of ODA. In 2012, for instance, the amount of bilateral (grants and loans combined) and multilateral ODA reached to 1,160 million and 390 million USD, respectively. It indicates that these were increased by 17.4% and 16.0% compared with the previous year, attesting to the fact that Korea has expanded the role it has assumed as an active donor for global development.