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close this bookTechnological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)
close this folder3. The Republic of Korea
View the documentPreamble
View the documentHistory
View the documentDevelopment policies and strategies from the 1960s to the 1980s
View the documentThe plans
View the documentImpact on the agricultural and industrial sectors
View the documentScience and technology in korea before the 1960s
View the documentThe role of science and technology in recent development
View the documentScience and technology and the exogenous environment
View the documentEducation and training
View the documentResearch and development
View the documentReassessment of the policy and strategy
View the documentAchievements in industrial development
View the documentThe electronics industry as a case-study
View the documentSelf-reliance targets at each stage
View the documentProblems and issues
View the documentFuture plan for self-reliance of science and technology
View the documentThe long-term goals and strategy of national development
View the documentRole of science and technology for future development
View the documentLong-term goal of S&T development
View the documentSumming-up and regional cooperation
View the documentRegional cooperation
View the documentBibliography

Problems and issues

In the 1980s S&T capacity in the Republic of Korea increased significantly. Yet the country is still far behind advanced nations. Its overall technology capability index (table 6) is only 5.7, while that of the US is normalized at 100. Thus, it is far behind the 86.9 of Japan or the 45.0 of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Yet S&T investment in Korea has increased faster than the GNP; the ratio of the former to the latter has steadily increased from 0.26 per cent in 1965 to 1.46 per cent in 1984. Investment has grown faster in the private than in the public sector. The share of the private sector in total R&D expenditure has increased from about 10 per cent in the mid-1960s to 79 per cent in 1984. Despite this remarkable increase in the past 20 years, S&T investment is still much less than that of advanced countries, and more investment is required.

The increase in manpower has been significant during this period. The number of researchers per 10,000 has increased from 0.7 in 1965 to 9.1 in 1984. Yet this figure is still much smaller than that of advanced countries. In addition, Korea still lacks high-quality, experienced engineers in the field.

Table 6. International comparison of technology indices (1982) (billions of dollars)

Number of patents and registrations of new design

Technology trade

Value added in manufacturing

Export of technology intensive goods

(1) + (2) + (3) + (4)


























Federal Republic of Germany








(94 8)










(38 7)

(33 4)









(39 6)


Republic of Koreaa









(5 7)

Source: Korea Development Bank.
a. Korean data are from 1983.

The insufficiency of basic research is another serious problem. A recent survey indicates that the proportion of basic research expenditure to total R&D expenditure has been around 17 per cent since 1982. Serious support of universities by the government is required to increase this figure.

The main type of technology in the Republic of Korea still consists of simple processing and assembling technologies. One of the most serious problems in the field of S&T is the inferiority and insufficiency of the basic technology necessary for system design and the production of parts and materials. Improvement of these lagging basic technologies is critical for the upgrading of the industrial structure to a technology-intensive one. Because such upgrading is important for further economic development, greater efforts should be devoted to improving basic technology.