Korea skyline

Korea GDP

Korea GDP

Economic Growth in Korea

South Korea's GDP growth from 2013-2022 was robust, driven by strong exports and technological advancements. The economy demonstrated resilience amid global trade tensions and regional geopolitical challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a temporary setback in 2020, but a swift recovery followed, underpinned by strong technology sectors and effective pandemic management. South Korea's growth trajectory reflected its successful transition to a high-value, innovation-driven economy.

The Korean economy recorded an average growth rate of 2.7% in the decade to 2022, which is below the 4.4% average for the Asia-Pacific region. In 2022, the real GDP growth was 2.6%. For more GDP information, visit our dedicated page.

Korea GDP Chart

Note: This chart displays Economic Growth (GDP, annual variation in %) for Korea from 2014 to 2023.
Source: Bank of Korea.

Korea GDP Data

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Economic Growth (GDP, ann. var. %) 2.9 2.2 -0.7 4.3 2.6
GDP (USD bn) 1,725 1,651 1,645 1,817 1,673
GDP (KRW tn) 1,898 1,924 1,941 2,080 2,162
Economic Growth (Nominal GDP, ann. var. %) 3.4 1.4 0.8 7.2 3.9

GDP growth records best reading since Q4 2021 in the first quarter

According to a preliminary estimate, GDP growth picked up to 1.3% on a seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter basis in the first quarter, up from 0.6% in the fourth quarter of last year. Q1's reading marked an over two-year high and was more than double market expectations. On an annual basis, economic growth sped up to 3.4% in Q1, compared to the previous period's 2.2% increase. Q1's reading marked the best result since Q4 2021 and also overshot market expectations.

Private consumption accelerated to 0.8% seasonally-adjusted quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter (Q4 2023: +0.2% s.a. qoq), amid higher spending on clothing plus restaurants and accomodation. Government consumption improved to a 0.7% expansion in Q1 (Q4 2023: +0.5% s.a. qoq). Meanwhile, fixed investment rebounded, growing 1.5% in Q1, contrasting the 1.4% decrease in the prior quarter and buoyed by the construction sector. On the external front, exports of goods and services growth softened to 0.9% in Q1 (Q4 2023: +3.5% s.a. qoq), on the back of slowing exports of both goods and services. Imports of goods and services contracted 0.7% in Q1 (Q4 2023: +1.4% s.a. qoq).

On their forecasts, United Overseas Bank’s Ho Woei Chen said: “Given the strong outperformance in 1Q24, we now think that South Korea’s GDP is likely to be better than our forecast of 2.5% this year. Indicators such as the manufacturing PMI, exports, tourist arrivals, consumer sentiment and employment point to an ongoing economic recovery after the anemic 1.4% growth in 2023. As such, we raise our forecast for 2024 growth to 2.8% while maintaining the projection for 2025 at 2.4%.” In a similar vein, Nomura analysts said: “We are raising our 2024 GDP growth forecast substantially to 2.5% y-o-y from 1.9%, reflecting more resilient consumption and stronger exports. We now expect a soft landing in consumption (1.6%; previous: 0.6%), and stronger export growth (5.5%; previous: 4.4%), reflecting the AI investment boom in the US.”

Consensus Forecasts and Projections for the next ten years

How should you choose a forecaster if some are too optimistic while others are too pessimistic? FocusEconomics collects Korean GDP projections for the next ten years from a panel of 31 analysts at the leading national, regional and global forecast institutions. These projections are then validated by our in-house team of economists and data analysts and averaged to provide one Consensus Forecast you can rely on for each indicator. By averaging all forecasts, upside and downside forecasting errors tend to cancel each other out, leading to the most reliable GDP forecast available for Korean GDP.

Download one of our sample reports to visualize what a Consensus Forecast is and see our Korean GDP projections.

Want to get access to the full dataset of Korean GDP forecasts? Send an email to info@focus-economics.com.

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