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WBGx: Policy Lessons from South Korea's Development

Learn about South Korea’s remarkable transformation from a low- to high-income economy in only three decades.

4 weeks
Instructor-led on a course schedule
This course is archived

About this course

Skip About this course

South Korea presents a compelling story of economic growth. It’s one of few countries that made the transition from a resource-poor, low-income nation to a high-income economy in only three decades. It offers a model for developing countries and in this MOOC, leading experts will explain how South Korea achieved this outcome by implementing an export-led industrial strategy.

This course examines South Korea’s past developmental experience as well as its current strategy and policy initiatives to overcome global and domestic challenges, and sustain economic growth into the 21st century. You’ll have an opportunity to consider and discuss institutional and policy lessons applicable to the developmental challenges facing your own countries.

The course will be of interest to all those wanting to learn how South Korea was transformed into a high-income, with the help of a highly skilled workforce, and the development of high-end manufacturing and services sectors. Also of great interest is Korea’s creation of a futuristic city, Songdo, equipped with smart and green technologies. This MOOC will be of particular interest to policymakers involved in economic development.

The course has been developed by the World Bank Group in collaboration with Korea Development Institute, and is taught by prominent representatives of academic and research institutions in South Korea and the United States.

At a glance

  • Institution: WBGx
  • Subject: Economics & Finance
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Prerequisites:

    Familiarly with basic economics concepts would be helpful but is not required.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills:Services Sectors, Economic Growth

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • The factors that contributed to South Korea's remarkable performance from the 1960s to the 1990s and how some of its policies could be applied to similar effect today
  • The strategies used to build a science, technology and innovation system and to nurture innovation capability
  • The forward looking developments promoting diversification into advanced manufacturing, tradable services and digital/green technologies
  • Current efforts to upgrade skills and productivity of an ageing workforce and the strengthening of a social safety net
  • The city of Songdo; the effectiveness, scalability and applicability of its green and smart technologies

Module 1: Korean Development in Global Perspective
This module sets the stage for the three modules that follow; you'll learn of the factors that gave Korea an enduring edge over other developing countries in the 1960s and 1970s, and examine Korea's model for development in the regional context. You'll learn how Korea was able to take the lead and capitalize on the globalizing of trade. Module 2: Rapid Growth: The First Three Decades
This module examines the evolution of Korea's policies and structural changes that paved the way for a transition from an economy dependent on agriculture to one centered on the urban industrial sector. You'll learn how Korea transformed its workforce through improvements in the education system, resulting in a highly skilled and productive workforce. You'll also examine how Korea successfully transitioned to high-tech industries including consumer electronics, office equipment, and automobiles--achieving foreign market penetration in each sector. Module 3: Evolving a 21st Century Development Model
This module explores the ongoing economic transformation as Korea shifts focus and adopts a strategy better suited for the 21st century environment. You'll learn about the reform and consolidation of industry and finance after the East Asian Financial Crisis as well as the steps taken by Korea to build and strengthen the science, technology and innovation system. You'll also learn about Korea's efforts at greening industrialization in cities such as Ulsan and at creating a smart city from scratch via the Songdo city initiative. Module 4: Post-Industrial Development Challenges
Module 4 examines how productivity becomes the main source of growth in a mature industrial economy, while capital investment remains a complementary driver. You'll learn of the considerations associated with maximizing potential of an ageing workforce and strengthening social safety nets. You'll also learn about Korea's efforts for rebalancing the country's industrial organization, managing dominance of conglomerates and enhancing the growth potential of small and medium-sized enterprises.

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