Having almost no raw materials and experiencing rapid population growth, South Korea adopted a large manufacturing force and huge export economy. In 2010, South Korea was the world’s seventh-largest exporter and the tenth-largest importer.
The graph above shows the fast and steady increase in hi-tech industry, which has been continuously bolstered by government investment in labour-intensive manufacturing.
The sharp drop in exports in 2000 was due to a slowing of the global economy and a perception that corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Exports fell further in 2008 and 2009 due to the global financial crisis.
South Korea’s main exports include semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships and petrochemicals.