South Korea has grown in popularity over the past decade, with its K-pop music and K-dramas infiltrating homes in many countries worldwide. Its popular foods are also found in supermarkets and at farmers markets almost everywhere.
However, is South Korea a third-world country or a developed nation?
South Korea is no longer a third-world nation as of July 2021, when its status was officially changed to a developed country by the UN Conference on Trade.
This marked the first time in the conference’s history that it made such a move. Just six decades ago, South Korea’s poverty level was beneath even some underdeveloped African nations.
In recent years, Korea has been standing strong beside many of the most developed nations worldwide.
Table of Contents
- How did South Korea become one of the poorest nations?
- What drives South Korean growth?
- When did South Korea become one of the world’s top ten developed nations?
- Considering South Korea’s elevated status, are working conditions in the country improving?
- How fast is South Korea growing?
- Why do many South Koreans prioritize material goods over family?
- How wide is the wage gap in South Korea?
- Is there a wired culture in South Korea?
- Can you only use debit and credit cards in Korea?
- Are South Koreans workaholics?
- To what extent is South Korea a leader in the cosmetic industry?
- Is South Korea’s StarCraft industry a real job prospect?
- Why do so many people travel to South Korea for plastic surgery?
- Are the best flight attendants from South Korea?
The southern half of the Korean Peninsula is home to South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea. This nation in eastern Asia has a long, turbulent history.
South Korea was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945, but communist North Korean forces attacked the country a few years later. To bring an end to a three-year conflict, the United Nations requested assistance.
There is still a significant rift between North and South Korea.
The recovery of a besieged nation and its ailing economy was taken over by severe authoritarian control in the decades after South Korea’s independence. In 1987, the first free public vote was held, handing power back to the people after a long period of dictatorship.
Due to its high-tech, service-based economy, South Korea is the first recipient of Development Assistance Committee (DAC) money to later give the money back. Since the 1960s, the country has enjoyed sustained growth and a decrease in poverty.
It is presently the seventh-largest exporter in the world and the eleventh-largest economy in the world.
Kia, Hyundai, and Samsung are all headquartered in Seoul, which is located in central South Korea, and represent two of South Korea’s most important industries: technology and automobile manufacturing.
When it comes to national savings and foreign investment, the country functions similarly to a dictatorship that prioritizes conservation rather than spending.
South Korea was asked to join a meeting of the Group of Seven, a group of the world’s wealthiest nations, in 2020. South Korea’s national GDP per capita is now higher than that of Japan and several EU nations.
The purchasing power of other countries, such as France, is on the rise and could overtake them shortly, however, even at market rates. This would be rare, as there are very few instances in which one of the world’s numerous developing countries surpasses one of the more developed ones.
Laborers in South Korea are still subjected to severe working conditions, despite significant progress in many sections of the country. Construction accidents and industrial malfunctions frequently lead to fatalities.
These events are harsh but good examples of how the splendor of becoming a sophisticated country masks the darker aspects of its growth.
As a percentage of its overall labor force, South Korea had the third-highest deadly accident rate in 2017 among OEC&D members. Even worse, South Korea’s death rate in the construction business reached 25.5 per 100,000 employees, the worst in the OECD and more than quadruple the OECD median of 8.3.
Compared to other advanced economies, South Korea’s economic growth, productivity, and wage growth are all substantially higher. As for COVID-19, South Korea has done an outstanding job of combating it.
Despite this, South Korea is a member of a group of countries with the widest income disparity and the greatest relative poverty rate. Suicide is exceedingly common among South Korean workers, and the birth rate in South Korea is currently the lowest in the world.
South Koreans are more affluent today than they were in the past, yet it is not clear whether they’re any happier than they were in the past.
Individuals from 17 industrialized economies were asked what makes their lives worthwhile by the Pew Research Center in November 2021. Families came top in the majority of countries polled, followed by jobs and material possessions.
People in South Korea ranked material well-being above all else. While material wealth was essential in other countries, non-Koreans placed a higher value on other considerations.
While numerous responses were permitted, it is important to use caution when drawing any conclusions from this open-ended poll with South Koreans.
South Koreans appear to place greater priority on materialistic well-being than those in other nations, according to the results.
When it comes to social structures, South Korea has achieved rapid progress economically, but there is a huge divide between the wealthiest 10 percent of the population and the rest.
Because of their parents’ inability to secure long-term employment, many children are born into a world of constant uncertainty and feel as if they have an unfair disadvantage in life.
There is little doubt that children and teenagers born in South Korea are less happy than those born in other wealthy countries – it seems clear that they are.
South Korea is a country where 82.7 percent of the population has internet access and 78.5 percent of the population uses smartphones (as of 2013).
South Koreans are incredibly attached to their phones and use them for socialization, shopping, and entertainment. While this is common everywhere, it is taken to more extreme levels in South Korea.
Recently, South Koreans surpassed all other countries on the globe in the use of banking cards, as per statistics from its Bank of Korea.
Compared to Americans and Canadians, South Koreans performed 129.7 electronic payments per individual in 2011.
It is unlawful for any retailer in the state, no matter how cheap the cost, to reject credit cards, so all taxis have card readers.
In South Korea, 98% of the population has completed secondary education, and 63% have a college degree, making it one of the most educated countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Once they enter the workforce, South Koreans work incredibly hard.
Data from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance of South Korea in 2012 shows that South Koreans work 44.6 hours a week, which is more than double the OECD average of 32.8.
An August 2014 survey found that, alongside Tokyo citizens, Seoulites slept the least of any large city population worldwide, averaging slightly under five hours each night.
South Koreans are always tinkering with their cosmetics, whether it’s a product’s ingredients or the techniques of application. When it comes to skincare, Korean men aren’t as skeptical as their male colleagues from other countries.
This includes cosmetics such as BB cream foundation. As per Euromonitor, South Korean men buy a fourth of all men’s skincare sold worldwide, amounting to over $900 million a year.
Pro-gamers in South Korea make hundreds of thousands of USD a year playing StarCraft and receiving sponsorships. So far, more than half of all games sold have come from South Korea, where gamers of all ages come together to play in massive video game parlors.
As a result, the National Information Agency estimates that 14 percent of Koreans between the ages of 9 and 12 are struggling with internet addiction as a result of this gaming culture.
The shutdown rule or “Cinderella law” was passed two years ago, forbidding anyone under the age of 16 from accessing game websites in an attempt to curb the problem. Many people have chosen to ignore the restriction altogether.
Doctors in Seoul are famous for being able to tackle any cosmetic issues with plastic surgery.
Mongolian, Chinese, and Russian “health trips” to South Korea are common and motivated by the country’s low prices and the expertise of the surgeons.
Kwon Seung Taik, a top cosmetic surgeon at Seoul National University Hospital, said that the average cost of a makeover in the US is $10,000. “However, in Seoul and other cities, you can receive identical procedures ranging from $2K to $3K.”
International flight attendants train at Korean Airlines’ training facilities to perfect their airborne charm. Passengers who fly on Korean airlines are consistently pleased with the above and beyond service from the flight attendant and personnel.