Posted : 2013-04-07 19:02
Updated : 2013-04-07 19:02

Korea's ODA policy maybe up for change

Participants of the UNDP Human Development Report 2013 launch event engage in a discussion at the UNDP Policy Center in Seoul, April 4. At center is Chilean Ambassador to Korea Hernan Brantes, and to his left are director of the UNDP Policy Center Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau and Bangaldesh Ambassador Enamul Kabir. / Korea Times

By Kim Se-jeong

Korea's international development assistance policy will have a focus on diversifying its portfolio to bridge the gap between the demand and supply, said an expert from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank).

Speaking at the UNDP's Human Development Report 2013 launch event in Seoul on April 4, Maeng Joon-ho, a senior research officer at the Eximbank said, "We'll try to narrow financial development gaps." But he didn't elaborate on that much further.

His comment came only a couple of months after a new president was sworn in.

President Park Geun-hye's outspoken priority on social welfare leaves one big question: Will the international development assistances continue its momentum under her?

It is too early to tell, and the answers are still mixed, but there are certainly people out there who paint a gloomier picture.

The official development assistance (ODA) policy has had its momentum during her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, under whom Korea joined the OECD's Development Aid Committee (DAC) and hosted a summit on aid effectiveness in Busan. DAC is a club of high donors.

Under Lee, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) received unprecedented support and saw fast expansion in terms of projects and the number of people involved. But some critics lambasted him for using them as a business tactic.

This year's Human Development Report stated the apparent: the rise of the South.

It projected "by 2050, Brazil China and India will together account for 40 percent of global output, far surpassing the projected combined production of today's Group of Seven bloc," which are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It stated economic development and human development progress do not necessarily correlate.

And the human development progress takes on a whole new set of rules and efforts, and the report mentioned 18 states that have made relative success in delivering human development progress. Korea, Bangladesh and Chile were mentioned.

As far as education is concerned, Korea's experience has emulating traits, while in gender issue, Korea has little to offer.

As Kim Eun-mee, a professor at Ewha Womans University, pointed out, equity is absent in the gender policy in Korea as observed in the wage system.

It is a fact that women are paid less than men. Although educating women has made progress, the rules and corporate culture do not encourage skilled female employees to stay on the job.

Having fewer women at work is not a problem only for Korea, but it's more pronounced here because of social tolerance even among women themselves.

The most comprehensive report on human development gets published every three years by the UNDP. The translation process took several weeks before a local launch in Seoul.

The report also urged more South-South cooperation as a way to make human development progress.

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