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  • The Republic of Korea has achieved remarkable success in combining rapid economic growth with significant poverty reduction. The government of Korea’s policies resulted in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 7.3% annually between 1960 and 2019. This strong performance was fueled by annual export growth of 16.0% on average from 1961–2019, while savings and investment rose to 34.7% and 29.8% of GDP respectively. As the first former aid recipient to become a member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2009,  Korea’s gross national income (GNI) per capita increased rapidly from US$67 in the early 1950s to over US$30,000 in 2018.   

    Korea is a key development partner of the World Bank Group and since 1977, an important contributor  to the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund that supports the world’s poorest countries. Today Korea offers development experience that inspires many developing countries in sustainable development, provision of infrastructure and better services to improve the lives of the people, and transition to a dynamic knowledge economy. In 2015, Korea established a target to expand its official development assistance (ODA) to gross national income (GNI) ratio to 0.2% by 2020 and 0.3% by 2030 and has since been continuously increasing its ODA volume. 

    Positioning itself for an enhanced international role, the Korean government increased its IDA contributions, entered into a co-financing framework agreement with the Bank, and created multiple trust funds.  The World Bank Group Korea Office is in the process of becoming a global hub for innovation and technology for sustainable development. As a global innovation and technology hub, the Korea office will help developing countries adopt innovative and technology-enabled development solutions and support green growth innovations for sustainable development. Two flagship events on innovation and technology – Global Innovative Growth Forum co-organized with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in 2019, and the Korea Innovation Week in 2020 – showcased progress in partnerships and programs of the Korea office. 

    As countries around the world work to contain the spread and impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the World Bank Group Korea Office is working with the Korean government to share the country’s expertise and experience, particularly in the use of innovative and technology-enabled solutions to respond to the pandemic.  

    Last Updated: Apr 06, 2021

  • World Bank Governor 

    Each member country is represented within the World Bank Group by a governor, who is generally the finance minister or the minister of development of the country concerned, and whose powers extend in particular to authorizing capital increases, approving financial statements, and accepting or electing to suspend new members at the annual meetings. The governor for Korea is Nam-ki Hong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance. 

    World Bank Executive Director 

    The governor delegates responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day business of Korea’s interests at the World Bank to the Executive Director (ED) for Australia, Cambodia, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. EDs reside in Washington, D.C. and normally meet twice a week to decide on borrowing and financial questions, projects, and policies that impact World Bank Group general operations.   

    Nigel Richard Ray is the current ED. Boosung Kang serves as the Alternate Executive Director. 

    Shares and Voting Power 

    The member countries of the World Bank Group have a given number of shares in the capital of the institution of which they are members; this number of shares determines their voting power when decisions are reached by the Board of Executive Directors. 

    Korea holds 1.66% of the shares in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) with 1.6% of voting powers, 1.07% of the shares in the International Finance Corporation (IFC) with 1.04% of voting powers, 1.01% of voting powers in the International Development Association (IDA), and finally 0.45% of the shares in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) with 0.47% of voting powers.  

    For the latest voting status, please visit the World Bank Voting Powers webpage.  

    For information on Korea’s aid flows as a donor, please click here.  

    Last Updated: Apr 06, 2021

  • The Republic of Korea became a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) in 1955 and joined the International Development Association (IDA) in 1961.  The Bank began its operations in Korea in 1962 when it completed the first Country Economic Report and approved an IDA credit of US$17 million to expand and improve the Korean National Railroad.  

    By 1973, Korea’s economy had progressed sufficiently to require no further IDA assistance. The Bank then supported Korea through low-interest loans, policy advice, and technical assistance from IBRD. Over the years, from IDA and IBRD, the Bank completed 133 credit or loan projects in Korea, disbursing funds totaling US$15 billion. 

    The Bank’s work in Korea evolved to match the country’s changing needs. In the early years, the Bank focused on lending for agriculture, irrigation, rural development, small and medium industry, transportation (such as roads, ports, and railways), regional and urban development, and education. Investment in agriculture increased substantially in the 1970s, and then declined in the 1980s as the economy shifted to a greater emphasis on industrial development. Priorities on human capital accumulation evolved as the economy demanded more skilled labor and research and development for science and technology. 

    Later, social infrastructure – such as urban water supply, sanitation, and sewerage – and its environmental impact became a high priority as the country’s industrial sector and its energy and transportation infrastructure became more developed. During this period, heavy emphasis was placed on achieving greater social equity through a fair distribution of income and wealth. 

    During the financial crisis of the late 1990s, the World Bank supported the government of Korea’s reform programs through a series of adjustment loans, worth a total of US$7 billion. These programs ranged from financial sector restructuring to reforms in corporate sector and labor market reforms as well as in social safety nets. The reforms helped make the country’s economic model more sustainable and resilient to economic downturns.  

    The World Bank Group hosts a range of partnerships and joint projects with Korean partners to help developing countries enhance financial sector management; promote investment in green growth innovation – in energy, the environment, and urban development/land management; share know-how in information communication technology; and assist fragile and conflict-affected states. 

    For example, the Korea-World Bank Partnership Facility, launched in 2012, provides US$90 million over three years and a replenishment of US$140 million from FY20 through FY23 to finance global and regional projects that support economic development and co-financing investments at the country level. The emphasis is on generating and transferring development best practices, with low and lower middle-income countries eligible for funding under the new facility. 

    In December 2013, the World Bank Group opened a new main office in Songdo, Incheon, and a liaison office in Seoul. From 2014 to 2018, the offices supported a broad range of development partnership opportunities with a focus on promoting best practices. This was achieved by leveraging the Bank Group’s knowledge and convening power as well as Korea’s expertise in areas such as green growth, financial innovation, private sector development, and technology and innovation.  

    In December 2020, Phase 3 of the Korea Office Trust Fund was agreed upon between the World Bank and the government of Korea. The Korea office continues to expand with a greater emphasis on supporting the operational work across sectors through the Global Center for Innovation and Technology. Crosscutting innovation and disruptive technology will support client countries through the collaboration between Korean and global partners. Additionally, the Center will jointly work with programs such as the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF) to build an operational and analytical program in green growth innovation for sustainable development.  

    Finally, a focus on mobilizing private sector investment will also be pursued through the Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).  

    Last Updated: Apr 06, 2021

Additional Resources

Country Office Contact

37F. Boo Young Songdo Tower 2, 241, Incheon tower-daero, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, Korea
Incheon, 82-32-713-7000
Washington, 202-473-4709
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433