World Bank to harness South Korea's example for the developing world

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim opens a new office in Songdo, South Korea. The country is an exceptional example of aid recipient turned donor, according to Kim. Photo by: Young-Jin Yoo / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Riding on the Asia-Pacific economic boom, the World Bank takes a new step toward increasing its development footprint in the region with a new office in Incheon, South Korea.

Formally inaugurated by Jim Kim, president of the Washington, D.C.-based institution, during his official visit to the country last week, the office will extend the bank’s mission to assist developing nations by sharing South Korea’s success story to the world.

“[South] Korea is an exceptional example of an aid recipient turned donor … and developing countries in Africa and elsewhere can learn from its experience,” Klaus Rohland, World Bank country director in Seoul, told Devex.

Rohland added that as the country, through the official aid agency KOICA, plays an increasingly active role in global development issues, “the new office will help expand partnerships … focusing on finance, private sector development, green growth and other priorities to accelerate poverty reduction and build shared prosperity.”

Knowledge sharing

From ashes, to Asian tiger, to rising donor. South Korea emerged from the 1950-1953 Korean War as an underdeveloped U.S. client state ruled by a succession of military dictators, but even before embracing democracy in the late 1980s, its economic miracle amazed the world and is considered an example that can be successfully replicated in other countries.

That’s precisely what the World Bank wants to do through knowledge sharing, which remains lacking throughout the developing world despite the rise of open data and other technological advances.

Rohland explained that the new office in Incheon will facilitate information and resources to developing nations mainly in Asia and Africa that want to follow South Korea’s successful development model.

“This new [South] Korea office resembles the offices of the World Bank already set up in other industrialized countries, such as Europe and Japan, to help promote knowledge transfers from North to South,” he said.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.