[Issue] [November 2015] CCEJ International Agenda : The hidden side of South Korea’s aid boasting by the government

The hidden side of
South Korea’s aid boasting

by the government


Lee Soo-ryeon

Staff, International Affairs Team


‘National leap forward to be a global leader’

On November 16th, the government published
its vision of general planning for international development and cooperation. The
government set a direction for national policy announcing basic plans for
international development and cooperation on a five-year basis.



South Korea’s aid model—why does this matter?

In advanced donor countries like Denmark and
Sweden, the priority in aid policy focuses on improvements in
developing countries’ quality of life and poverty. On the other hand, the
Office for Government Policy Coordination publicized the biggest goal of South
Korea’s general planning is to take a “National leap forward to [become a] global
leader.” Additionally, the representative contents of Korea’s ODA is referred
to as “South Korea’s Cooperation and Development Model.”

The basic principle and direction of ODA is
the improvement of poverty in developing nations through deployment of public
goods. However, Korean government continuously pushes the “South Korean
Assistance Model” as representative for ODA since the publication of
“Strategies for ODA Advancement” in 2010, and “Promotion Plan of South Korea’s
ODA” in 2012.


Official Development Assistance should
establish a means to pass on Korean know-how to informal organizations
naturally grown in the locales where the aid is being deployed. If donor
countries make progress with that form of assistance, then it may possibly
hinder further development in the recipient country with successive
governments. In Bolivia and Bangladesh, for example, communities were able to
autonomously organize self-governing structures (called OICH and BRAC,
respectively) in order to retrieve rights lost for a long period of time. These
two organizations demonstrate how much more effective and desirable it is to
have local residents achieve autonomous development without any outside

A problem concerning the 2nd general planning
of ODA is that there is no proof or indicator to know that the UN Sustainable
Goals (SDGs) are affected. Last September, the UN General Assembly announced the
new development goals for the world’s acute problems and economic crises. The
Republic of Korea is also responsible for implementing the goals of the SDGs
mutually agreed to by the UN member states.


However, details on the institutionalization
of the SDGs and various plans were not presented. In the field of international
cooperation, the SDGs are an urgent and important matter for the years leading
up to 2020. If Korea does not have detailed alternative plans, it is regarded
as a lack of heart. 

Long-term impact studies needed for future
partner nations

Korea should conduct long-term impact studies
to evaluate how South Korea’s ODA development model would affect future partner
nations when it comes to general ODA planning. Multilateral development,
including institutional growth, as well as external growth should make progress
in unison. If the social influence aspect is not adequately included in the
evaluation for South Korea’s development model, it would be irresponsible.

The Korean government provided evidence to
support its own development model as a benchmark for other nations and the
successful development of rural areas in regions like Asia and Africa. However,
most developing nations have not established a democratic government
accountable to local residents. Korea should instead devise multiple aspects of
evaluation methods for dealing with the quality of local residents’ life. With
a long-term assessment conducted, an objective evaluation will be available for
“South Korea’s ODA Development Model.”


South Korea was once a major recipient of
international aid, but as of today, it is the only nation to emerge from the
pack of recipient nations to become one of the donor nations. In joining the
OECD DAC, South Korea actively provides assistance to developing countries, and
it is disgraceful that foreign aid policies are shaped by certain, narrow views
of South Korea’s development model. Fundamental principles and goals for ODA
should be reconsidered for basic governmental planning of international
development cooperation.

Translator : Kim Tae-yeong