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How Advanced is Korea?

How Advanced is Korea?

KIM Sun-Bin

July 13, 2010

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Originally released on May 26, 2010


Korea's national slogan has been "Become a developed country." Its efforts for advancement have come to fruition with the Korean economy ranked 15 th in the world and the selection of Korea to host the G20 Summit. However, its journey to advancement has not been completed in the eyes of Koreans. According to an opinion survey by Samsung Economic Research Institute, most of the general public thinks that it will take more than seven years for Korea to join the ranks of advanced countries and they are willing to tolerate inconveniences until then.

In order to attain advancement, the concept of advancement should be established based on national consensus, and the level of advancement should be grasped. A nation's advancement can be defined as a state where economic growth and social integration are harmoniously enhanced with highly cultured citizens. SERI identifies seven requisites for advancement: dynamism, pride, autonomy, creativity, reciprocity, diversity, and happiness. In particular, dynamism plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable growth and integration at the same time.

Based on the assumption that balanced development of the seven requirements can promote national advancement, SERI created national advancement indicators to measure the level of Korea's advancement so far. SERI measured the nation's relative level compared to its OECD peers by dividing the seven requirements into two parts, and then classifying them into five categories related to politics, economics, culture, society and public will. Korea's total score was 65.5, 8.5 points lower than the OECD average of 74.0. With this below-average score, Korea ranked 24 th among the 30 OECD members, nine places lower than the Korean economy's global ranking. Korea is 13.3 years behind developed nations in terms of advancement indicators. Overall, integration-related indicators scored more poorly than growth-related indicators. Korea approached the level of the developed countries in creativity and dynamism with the score of 72.3 and 75.9, respectively. On the other hand, Korea lags far behind developed countries in reciprocity, diversity and autonomy with the score of 59.1, 54.5, and 64.1.

Despite improved national standing, Korea needs to make concerted efforts to achieve national advancement as it is 13.3 years behind developed countries. Korea needs to systemize target management so that it could oversee progress in areas where Korea lags far behind other OECD countries. It also needs to reestablish national agenda in connection with categories of advancement. In particular, the policy focus should be given to the areas which are easy to improve, but below the average of developed countries : innovation of economic system, social integration, spontaneity, autonomy in economic operation, quality of regulation, protection of the weak, order of fair trade, contribution to the world, quality of work and leisure. Moreover, it is desirable for Korea to keep improving dynamism and creativity while strengthening integration by protecting the underprivileged as the balanced development of growth and integration is the core of national advancement.

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