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The Warsaw Voice » Other » June 17, 2009
Korea in Poland
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Korean Success Story
June 17, 2009 By W.¯.    
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In 2007 Korea was the world's 13th strongest economy, according to international financial statistics. The United Nations' Human Development Index, which takes into account many economic and noneconomic factors to describe the standard of living in different countries, ranked Korea in 26th place worldwide.

For over three decades the Korean economy grew so strongly that international economists carefully studied the methods applied there, trying to transfer them to their own countries. From 1962 to 2007 Korea's GDP per capita increased from under $90 to over $20,000. In absolute figures, the country's gross domestic product grew from $2.3 billion to almost $970 billion over this time.

In 1963-1997 Korea's GDP grew at a steady rate of 8.5 percent annually despite substantial spending on the military necessitated by the constant threat posed by the country's communist neighbor.

That spectacular economic growth was largely due to a package of reforms based on measures such as financing investments with domestic funds; maintaining a stable value of the national currency; discouraging foreign investment (accepting only technology and know-how transfer from abroad); a focus on developing exports; high import duties; sponsoring selected industrial sectors; and blocking the way to the country's financial market for foreign companies. At the expense of consumer goods imports, the government in Seoul promoted imports of raw materials and advanced technology as well as encouraged citizens to save and invest.

Later that strategy changed and the past decade has seen progressive liberalization and globalization of the Korean economy, combined with substantial consumption growth.

Today Korea is 11th in the world in terms of the volume of trade. The country's 2008 exports totaled $422 billion, while imports stood at $435 billion and were dominated by crude oil.

Consumer electronics and cars have topped the list of Korea's flagship exports for years. The country is also the world's fifth-largest automaker. Cars such as Hyundai and Kia are a familiar sight on the streets of Europe and the United States. Korean manufacturers supply both cheap, economical models and luxury SUVs and limousines.

Another strength of the Korean economy is its excellently developed logistics network. The international airport in Incheon is second in the world in terms of cargo volume handled. The seaport in Busan is fifth worldwide in terms of cargo handling. KTX, Korea's high-speed railway, carried over 150 million passengers in 2004-2008, ranking fifth among such railways worldwide.

Though the great Asian crisis of the late 1990s had a serious impact on the Korean economy, a decade later the country is back on the path of intense and stable development. Korea's currency reserves are worth $262 billion today, up from just over $96 billion in 2000.
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