Transitioning from an aid recipient to a donor country in only a half century, Korea is now playing a critical role in supporting socio-economic development of developing countries.
The Establishment of KOICA
The Republic of Korea (hereafter "Korea") was once one of the poorest countries in the world to receive aid after World War II. However, less than half a century, the size of Korea's economy expanded to the level of middle income countries. This led to a recognition that Korea needs to play a larger role in international community, befitting its rising national status.
However, Korea's previous aid system was fragmented as the responsibility to carry out aid was spread across different government ministries. The absence of comprehensive plans and low awareness about development cooperation posed challenges to unify Korea's ODA (Official Development Assistance) system.
Korea supports partner countries in cooperation with other international organizations such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Health Organization (WHO), etc.
For the following efforts, on 25 November, 2009, the OECD DAC (Development Assistance Committee) welcomed Korea as its 24th member, meaning that Korea officially transformed its status from one of recipient countries to one of donor countries.
Korea strengthened its role and responsibility by hosting the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in Busan, Korea in 2011. The HLF is an inclusive political forum that brings diverse development partners to make collective actions for the future of aid for all stakeholders.
About sixty years ago, Korea used to receive assistance from the United States, one of key donor countries. However, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by two countries in 2014 demonstrates how they formulate a partnership and mutually support partner countries' sustainable development today.
In 2009, the Korean government consolidated overseas volunteer programs provided by different government agencies into a single brand. This government initiative gave birth to 'World Friends Korea' (WFK). Currently, it is operating a wide range of volunteer programs to engage from high school graduates to retirees.
"Unless there is a miracle, it will take more than 100 years for South Korea to recover from the Korean War", stated by the U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, who led the UN forces during the 1950s in their defense of Korea. However, contrary to what he said, a 'Miracle on the Han River' did occur within 50 years as Korea entered the OECD DAC. Today, Korea will keep working in the front-line of international development cooperation.
Exhibition Curator l Ran Ro