U.S. Foreign Assistance Has Helped South Korea
U.S. foreign assistance has helped South Korea rise from poverty and the economic devastation of The Korean War. South Korea now sustains a prosperous economy and contributes to foreign assistance worldwide.

The United States’ $35 billion investment in economic foreign assistance has helped the Republic of Korea (ROK), once one of the poorest nations, become the world’s 12th largest economy.

Ways U.S. Foreign Assistance Has Helped South Korea

The overall health of South Koreans has improved, including a better life expectancy, a decreased infant mortality rate, improved sanitation and prevention of infectious diseases. South Korea’s transformation is not only evident from the increased wellbeing of its people. The country’s GDP per capita grew from $876 in 1950 to $36,500 in 2015, with a GINI index of 30.2, indicating the distribution of wealth.

South Korea is now the U.S.’s seventh-largest trading partner due to its economic gain and position as a world power. In 2010, the U.S.-Korea trade agreement amounted to approximately $88 billion. According to estimates by The U.S. International Trade Commission, tariff cuts in the agreement increase U.S. exports by $11 billion annually.

Since overcoming poverty and benefiting from U.S. Foreign Assistance, South Korea has become an international donor of foreign aid and a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), one of the world’s largest funders of foreign assistance.

Seoul, one of U.S.’s most important allied cities in the Asia-Pacific, contributes to international development assistance and increases foreign relational values. Its $680 million investment in Afghanistan has helped reconstruction efforts. They have helped build medical facilities and police training stations, paved roads and trained Afghan civil servants. Furthermore, in December 2013, Seoul invested $43 million in Afghanistan to improve women’s rights and access to medical services.

Ranked the world’s most innovative country in 2015, South Korea leads global development and expands opportunities for sustainable solutions. Its ingenuity yields significant results in public-private partnerships and in research and development.

Among South Korea’s contributions is its Creative Technology Solution (CTS), launched by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs also funded this program. KOICA CTS supports socio-economic growth, as well as reducing inequalities between countries and social classes. It also aims to create decent jobs and promote science, technology and innovation in the context of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

South Korea, once a beneficiary of U.S. foreign assistance, is now a leading contributor to foreign aid and global development. U.S. foreign assistance has helped South Korea to create a prosperous economy and become a model example of foreign aid investment and surmounted poverty.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr