South Korea has come a long way since it emerged from the Korean War in 1953 as an underdeveloped United States client state. Once a top receiver in foreign assistance, South Korea is now leading the charge in aiding underdeveloped countries.

Recently, Prime Minister Jung Hong-won committed to investing $2 billion worth of official development assistance (ODA) in 2014, in an effort to aid recipient countries by fast-tracking development programs and campaigns. This committed funding is an 11 percent increase from last year’s efforts and another progressive step forward in South Korea’s storied history.

Minho Cho, the deputy government director of ODA, stated that the majority of South Korea’s funds will be used to build and improve upon social and economic infrastructures.

Other development plans include the building of water treatment, education, healthcare and energy facilities in underdeveloped countries from Asia to Africa. “We are taking efforts to increase steadily the size of our ODA for several years and we are planning to increase [assistance] going forward,” said Cho.

South Korea’s foreign assistance programs will also focus on better suited developmental projects in underdeveloped countries in hopes of making aid more effective and transparent. “This year’s [development] policy priority is, first, we like to push for what we call a win-win ODA which means that both [the Korean government] and the recipient countries receiving aid are benefitting,” said Cho.

A portion of this funding will also go towards funding volunteers and their missions in developing countries to further display South Korea’s developmental footprint globally.

Further cementing South Korea’s footprint of aiding the poor is the announcement of a new World Bank office in Incheon, South Korea. World Bank country director, Klaus Rohland spoke about how other countries can benefit from the country’s storied past, “[South] Korea is an exceptional example of an aid recipient turned donor…and developing countries in Africa and elsewhere can learn from its experience. The new office will help expand partnerships…focusing on finance, private sector development, green growth and other priorities to accelerate poverty reduction and build shared prosperity.”

South Korea’s first woman president, Park Geun-hye, also announced expanded economic ties with India in an effort to add more depth to their existing partnership.

Being Asia’s fourth largest economy, South Korea is making a point to form lasting relationships with neighbors in their area. India and South Korea will be focusing their energy in promoting space technology, greater trade investments and defense industries. They will also be promoting their Korean model of growth in different parts of Africa.

While many countries are currently suffering from crippling poverty and food insecurity, South Korea is doing all they can to help lift the burden for those countries. Ranking near the top of all major donors, South Korea is also hoping to make foreign aid 25 percent of the country’s Gross National Income by 2015. The success of South Korea is a prime illustration of how it’s possible for underdeveloped countries to overcome adversity and achieve prosperity in this lifetime.

Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: Mizo News, Devex, Devex
Photo: KOICA