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S. Korea’s conflict index ranks 3rd among OECD countries: report

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The level of national conflicts in South Korea ranked third among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, raising calls for government efforts to strengthen its conflict management capacity, a report showed Thursday. 

According to a report by the Federation of Korean Industries, a major business lobbying group here, Seoul’s comprehensive conflict index presenting scores running from zero to 100, stood at 55.1 as of August.

It was the third highest among 30 OECD countries, just behind Mexico (69) and Israel (56.5), and up one notch from fourth place in 2008. The higher the ranking, the more severe the level of conflict in the country. 

The latest index was measured by calculating the average of three sub-indices for the level of conflicts in the fields of politics, economy and society within a nation, which took into account various factors, including political divides, economic imbalance and social discontent, the organization said in a statement. 

Asia’s fourth-largest economy posted a score of 71.3 and 57.2 in social and economic conflicts, which took third and second place among the OECD nations, respectively.

“Despite the Moon Jae-in administration’s wealth distribution measures, the nation’s income inequality has worsened. Also, social conflicts are growing over housing shortages amid soaring apartment prices,” a FKI official said.

The Gini coefficient measured with disposable income -- a gauge of income inequality -- went up slightly to 0.306 last year, according to a report from the Korea Employment Information Service. On a scale between 0 and 1, the closer the Gini ratio is to 1, the greater the income disparity.

Meanwhile, the nation posted 44.9 in political conflicts, the fourth highest in the ranking, largely driven by political pressure on the media. 

“Under pressure from political circles, local news outlets have shown ideological leanings, adding fuel to social division,” he added. 

The government, however, appeared to have poorly managed the nation’s political, economic and social conflicts with its social conflict management index ranking 27th among OECD members. The index is based on the effectiveness of a country’s administrative system, regulations, corruption management and government spending, the FKI said. 

“National conflicts, if prolonged, can incur large social costs and act as a hindrance to a country’s economic growth,” it added. 

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com)
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