10. Korea

Korea has an ambitious space programme, with domestic capabilities in satellite manufacturing and launch, as well as independent space access. In 2022, the country’s first lunar orbiter Danuri successfully entered into orbit around the Moon. Korea is furthermore working to enhance its satellite navigation infrastructure by creating the Korea Augmentation Satellite System, to be followed by a regional satellite navigation system by the 2030s, the Korea Positioning System (KPS).

In 2022, Korea’s institutional space budget reached USD 568.4 million (KRW 734 billion), following a yearly 0.6% increase since 2015. The lion’s share of the budget is devoted to satellite development (e.g. for earth observation and the KPS satellite navigation system), to foster commercial growth (Figure 10.1). Other budget priorities included launcher development (space transportation), the development of the Korea Positioning System and space exploration. Satellite manufacturing responsibilities are being transferred from the country’s government research institutions to the private sector. Overall, the institutional space budget accounted for 0.034% of Korea’s gross domestic product in 2022.

According to Korea’s pace industry survey, the space sector (comprising private firms, government research institutes and universities) employed 9 797 persons in 2021 and generated some USD 2.8 billion (KRW 3 189.3 billion) in revenues, mainly from the manufacturing of equipment related to satellite television and satellite navigation (e.g. set-top boxes).

Korea was among the top-ten patent applicants in space-related technologies worldwide in 2016-20 period, accounting for 6% of applications, as shown in Figure 10.2. A majority of applications (51%) were filed by public research institutions. The share of private sector applicants has increased between 2006-10 and 2016-20, from 35% to 44%.

Based on data in the OECD Development Assistance Committee Creditor Reporting System database, Korea is among the OECD top-ten country donors in space-related official development assistance over the 2002-21 period, with a total of 30 million constant USD committed (Figure 10.3). Commitments mainly focused on the provision of satellite data for disaster risk reduction (under “multisector aid”) and the utilisation of Korean weather satellites (under “telecommunications”), predominantly to Asian recipients. There were also projects using satellite imagery for mineral/mining prospection and exploration or training sessions for the use of global satellite navigation systems (GNSS) in air transport.

In terms of scientific output and excellence (Table 10.2), OECD indicators for scientific production, international co-authorships and citations in space-related scientific journal categories (aerospace engineering; astronomy; atmospheric science; and space and planetary science), show that authors at Korean-affiliated institutions performed at or slightly below the OECD average in 2021.


Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (2022), 우주산업실태조사 2022, [Space Industry Survey 2022], https://www.msit.go.kr/bbs/view.do?sCode=user&bbsSeqNo=65&nttSeqNo=3017395, accessed 9 February 2023).

OECD, STI Micro-data Lab: Intellectual Property Database, http://oe.cd/ipstats, June 2023.

OECD (2023), “Creditor Reporting System (CRS)", OECD.stat (database), https://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=CRS1 (accessed on 24 April 2023).

Scopus Custom Data, Elsevier, Version 1.2023.

Union of Concerned Scientists (2023), UCS Satellite Database, 1 January 2023 version, data extracted 27 July 2023, https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/satellite-database.

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