Korea’s official development assistance (ODA) has been increasing over the past decade. Its development co-operation focuses on least developed and lower middle-income countries in Asia and Africa. The bulk of Korea’s ODA is provided as bilateral co-operation, with a significant share of sovereign loans. Korea’s total ODA (USD 2.8 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2022 due to aid to Ukraine and an increase in humanitarian aid. It represented 0.17% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

The Yoon administration has renewed Korea’s ODA initiatives with the aim of becoming a “global pivotal state” as an active contributor to the international community's efforts to address global challenges, such as pandemics, the climate crisis, food and energy insecurity as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of developing countries. Focusing on the effective implementation of ODA, Korea seeks to increase ODA volume, invest strategically in ODA projects in pursuit of global values, increase the quality of projects, enhance its innovation capacity and strengthen public engagement in ODA.

Korea is currently developing an overarching multilateral strategy for its engagement, notably with United Nations (UN) institutions and multilateral development banks. Having hosted the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan in 2011, Korea actively supports the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, of which it is a founding member. In addition to sharing insights and lessons from its development experience, Korea also regularly hosts development effectiveness exchanges, such as the Sixth Busan Global Partnership Forum in Seoul in 2021.

The 2021 OECD mid-term review praised Korea’s follow-up to the 2018 peer review by updating its policy framework, reinforcing co-ordination across its development co-operation system, and strengthening the effectiveness of interventions in partner countries. It welcomed that Korea laid a new foundation for civil society partnerships by adopting the first civil society policy and implementation plan. The mid-term review underlined the need to increase ODA not only in volume but relative to GNI. It encouraged dialogue at the partner country level and indicated opportunities for advancing policy coherence for sustainable development. Learn more about Korea’s 2021 mid-term review and 2018 peer review.

Korea provided USD 2.8 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 3.1 billion in constant terms), representing 0.17% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 7.2% in real terms in volume and an increase in share of GNI from 0.16% in 2021. Korea has steadily increased ODA volume since it joined the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), with a dip in 2020. Korea aims to double ODA volume from 2019 to 2030 as a minimum target and with a view to stepping up to being the 10th largest donor in the world. Within Korea’s ODA portfolio in 2021, 66.2% was provided in the form of grants and 33.8% in the form of non-grants.2

Korea ranks 28th among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries in terms of ODA to GNI ratio. Among DAC members in 2021, Korea had one of the highest bilateral ODA shares of country programmable aid (80.5%) and ODA to fragile contexts (41.5%) of Korea’s gross bilateral ODA. It is also among the largest providers of aid for trade. In 2021, Korea had the highest share of bilateral ODA for the health sector at 25.4% of gross bilateral disbursements.

Korea is committed to several international targets, Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Korea provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 77.7% of total ODA. Twenty-two percent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Korea allocated 22.3% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, Korea provided USD 90.1 million of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, all of which was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data). In 2021, it provided USD 1.5 million.

In 2022, Korea provided USD 256.9 million in ODA for the COVID-19 response. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, donations of excess doses to developing countries accounted for USD 42.3 million of ODA and USD 0.4 million related to ancillary costs. In 2020 and 2021, Korea’s total bilateral support for COVID-19 response was USD 556.7 million and USD 581.8 million, respectively.

In 2021, Korea provided USD 1.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 33.6% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 704.4 million was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 59.6% of Korea’s non-core contributions and 40.4% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Sixty-six per cent of Korea’s total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to the UN system and the World Bank.

The UN system received 40.5% of Korea’s multilateral contributions, mainly in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 498.9 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Korea’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were WFP (USD 81.8 million), UNDP (USD 69.1 million) and UNICEF (USD 65.2 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2021, Korea’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 2.5 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 20.5% in real terms from 2020. In 2021, Korea focused most of its bilateral ODA on industry, innovation and infrastructure, climate action, and partnerships fo the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2021, country programmable aid was 80.5% of Korea’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 45.2%.

Korea disbursed USD 13.7 million for triangular co-operation in 2021. Its regional priority is Asia, with a focus on energy. Learn more about triangular co-operation and specific projects at the OECD’s voluntary triangular co-operation project repository.

In 2021, Korea channelled bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector. Technical co-operation made up 12.7% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 45.3 million of gross bilateral ODA. Zero per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 1.8% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 2.8% to 1.8%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2021, Korea’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Africa. USD 1.1 billion was allocated to Asia and USD 593.1 million to Africa, accounting respectively for 44.7% and 24.2% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 333.5 million (13.6%) was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in the Americas. Asia and Africa was also the main regional recipient of Korea’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with the policy priorities of its overall strategy.

In 2021, 45.9% of gross bilateral ODA went to Korea’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are all priority countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, in line with its policy focus. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 16.4%, of which 46% represents core contributions and pooled programmes and funds.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 35.8% of Korea’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 877.1 million). This is greater than the DAC average of 22.9%. Korea allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (35.8%) to least developed countries in 2021, noting that 16.4% was unallocated by income group. Korea allocated 17.2% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 421.2 million. Korea allocated 3.7% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to USD 91.3 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 1 billion in 2021, representing 41.5% of Korea’s gross bilateral ODA. Twelve per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 11.4% in 2020, while 4.9% was allocated to peace, similar to 2020. One per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, equal to the share in 2020.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, close to half of Korea’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 45.8% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.9 billion), with a strong focus on support to health (USD 735 million), government and civil society (USD 425.7 million) and water supply and sanitation (USD 354.1 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled 31.5% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.3 billion), focusing on transport and storage (USD 763 million), communications (USD 233 million) and energy (USD 195.4 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 154.1 million (3.7% of bilateral ODA). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused on emergency response, health and government and civil society.

In 2020-21, Korea committed 25% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 20.9% in 2018-19, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 44.4%). This is equal to USD 751.1 million of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 5.5% in 2020-21, compared with the DAC average of 4.5%. Korea includes gender equality objectives in 12.3% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 17.5%. Korea screens the majority of activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (93.5% in 2020-21). Korea committed USD 21.9 million of ODA to end violence against women and girls and USD 25.5 million to support women’s rights organisations and movements and government institutions in 2020-21. Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020-21, Korea committed 32.2% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1 billion) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (DAC average of 34.3%), up from 26% in 2018-19. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Eleven per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11.3%.

  • Twenty-six per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 826.4 million) focused on climate change overall (the DAC average was 29%), up from 19.8% in 2018-19. Korea had a greater focus on adaptation (25.8%) than mitigation (8.3%)in 2020-21.

  • Five per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 138.4 million) focused on biodiversity (compared with the DAC average of 6.5%), up from 0.4% in 2018-19.

Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Korea committed USD 12.6 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2021, down from USD 24.9 million in 2020. The 2021 value is equivalent to 0.3% of Korea’s bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

In 2021, Korea also:

  • Committed USD 0.7 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.02% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and custom duties for ODA-funded goods and services, Korea does not have a general policy seeking exemptions on its ODA-funded goods and services in partner countries and territories, and it does not make information available on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 1.7 billion (41.5% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2021. Korea is among the top 10 official providers of aid for trade globally.

  • Committed USD 63.4 million (1.6% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as maternal health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) or agriculture.

  • Committed USD 89.9 million (2.3% of its bilateral allocable aid) to development co-operation projects and programmes that promote the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Korea uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2021, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) mobilised USD 21.7 million from the private sector through co-financing.

In 2020-21, 46.3% of mobilised private finance by Korea targeted middle-income countries and 53.7% LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs). During the same period, the top beneficiary region of this financing was Asia (excluding the Middle East) (60.5% of the total).

Mobilised private finance by Korea in 2020-21 mainly benefited activities in the agriculture, forestry, fishing (26.7%), health (23.2%) and education (17.5%) sectors. Furthermore, over this period, 19.7% of Korea’s total mobilised private finance was for climate action.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The co-ordination mechanism for ODA in Korea includes three levels: the overall policy-making and co-ordinating institution, supervising ministries and implementing agencies. The Committee for International Development Cooperation (CIDC) assumes the role of the co-ordinating organisation, making an effort to enhance development effectiveness and policy coherence through better co-ordination across ministries. As supervising ministries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) are in charge of the provisions of grants and concessional loans, respectively. MOFA supervises grant projects delivered by implementing agencies, mainly the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). MOEF supervises and manages the Export-Import Bank of Korea, which delivers loan programs through the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF). Together, MOFA and MOEF manage most of Korea's ODA budget, with the remainder spread over many government departments and institutions. Although project approval rests with headquarters, project management is being increasingly decentralised to the country level.

There are 34 staff in the Office of International Development Cooperation within the Prime Minister’s Office, administrating the work of the CIDC. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has 41 staff, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance has 43 staff working on development co-operation. KOICA has 591 staff, 28.9% of which are in country offices abroad, and Korea EXIM Bank has 229 staff, 13.5% of which are in country offices abroad.

Since 2019, Korea has been organising an annual government-civil society policy conference. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella bodies Korea Civil Society Forum on International Development Cooperation (KoFID) and Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC).

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Korea’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following a reform of the exercise during 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) has resumed. More detailed results for Korea based on the 2016 and 2018 Monitoring Rounds can be found here. Monitoring profiles for other providers are available here.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Korea: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/DAC-mid-term-Korea-2021.pdf

2018 OECD-DAC peer review of Korea: http://www.oecd.org/dac/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews-korea-2018-9789264288829-en.htm

ODA Korea portal: https://www.odakorea.go.kr/eng/main

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA): www.koica.go.kr/sites/koica_en/index.do

Korea Exim bank Economic Development Cooperation Fund: https://www.edcfkorea.go.kr/he/index

CSO umbrella organisation Korea Civil Society Forum on International Development Cooperation (KoFID): http://kofid.org/en

CSO umbrella organisation Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC): http://www.ngokcoc.or.kr

Korea’s practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=korea#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 2010.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.


← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2019 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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