Although it was created back in 1991, the Korea International Cooperation Agency, South Korea’s bilateral aid agency, only started making waves a few years ago.
That’s partly thanks to a rapidly increasing budget: Between 2000 and 2008, the volume of South Korea’s total official development assistance increased by 278 percent and its bilateral aid by more than 311 percent — in turn boosting total staff numbers to 440 today. The country has been celebrated for making the leap from aid recipient to donor within just a few decades when it joined the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2009. But South Korea is still a relatively small player in the international development community, with net ODA totaling $1.55 billion in 2012. Its ODA last year, however, grew 17.6 percent, much more than other OECD-DAC members and surpassed only by Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The South Korean government’s goal is to spend 0.25 percent of its gross national income on ODA by 2015.