The Korea Herald


S. Korea's GDP surges 31,000-fold since 1953: data

By KH디지털2

Published : Aug. 10, 2015 - 11:55

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South Korea's gross domestic product has surged 31,000-fold since 1953, fueled by exports and competitiveness in heavy industries and consumer electronics, government data showed Monday.

According to the data by Statistics Korea, the country's nominal gross domestic product shot up from a mere 47.7 billion won ($40.9 million) in 1953, soaring to 1,485 trillion won last year. The data highlights the achievements made by Asia's fourth-largest economy 70 years after being liberated from Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945). 

"During the last year of the Korean War, the country was one of the poorest in the world and barely made ends meet by relying on assistance from others, but as of last year it trailed Australia and edged past Spain in terms of economic size," the statistical agency said.

In 2014, there were only 15 countries in the world with an annual GDP exceeding $1 trillion, it said.

According to the data, exports were almost non-existent in 1953, but the country shipped out $572.7 billion last year, making it the world's sixth-largest exporting nation.

South Korea has become globally competitive in cars, ships, steel, and more recently, consumer electronics, which has helped fuel growth.

The country has also maintained a current account surplus since 1998 after being in the red before. In 2014, the surplus reached $89.2 billion, accounting for 6.33 percent of the GDP.

The gross national income per capita skyrocketed to $28,180 last year from $67 in 1953, with the per capita GDP numbers adjusted for purchasing power parity hitting $34,356.

As of last year, the country's foreign currency reserves stood at $363.6 billion, 18 times more than the $20.4 billion it held just before the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The agency said it did not have reliable data right after liberation or during the Korean War (1950-1953) period. (Yonhap)