1 OECD Economic Surveys Korea June 2018. OVERVIEW. This Overview is extracted from the Economic Survey of Korea . The Survey is published on the responsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee ( edrc ) of the OECD, which is charged with the examination of the Economic situation of member countries. The Economic situation and policies of Korea were reviewed by the Committee on 14 March 2018. The draft report was then revised in the light of the discussions and given final approval as the agreed report of the whole Committee on 24 May 2018. The Secretariat's draft report was prepared for the Committee by Randall S. Jones, Jae Wan Lee and Haruki Seitani under the supervision of Vincent Koen. Research assistance was provided by Lut cia Daniel. Secretarial assistance was provided by Sisse Nielsen and Mercedes Burgos. The previous Survey of Korea was issued in May 2016. Information about the latest as well as previous Surveys and more information about how Surveys are prepared is available at This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.
2 OECD Economic Surveys : Korea OECD 2018. You can copy, download or print OECD content for your own use, and you can include excerpts from OECD publications, databases and multimedia products in your own documents, presentations, blogs, websites and teaching materials, provided that suitable acknowledgment of OECD as source and copyright owner is given. All requests for public or commercial use and translation rights should be submitted to Requests for permission to photocopy portions of this material for public or commercial use shall be addressed directly to the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) at or the Centre fran ais d'exploitation du droit de copie (CFC) at OECD Economic Surveys : Korea OECD 2018. Executive summary Short-term Economic prospects are good . but Korea faces risks, including high household debt . reflecting weaknesses in the large business groups and SMEs Korea faces well-being challenges 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Short-term Economic prospects are good growth strategy will support household income and private consumption.
3 Given its projection of steady The economy rebounded in 2017 after several domestic demand growth, the Bank of Korea raised years of subpar growth (Figure A). The upturn was its policy interest rate in November 2017 from a led by business investment and a continuing boom record low to stabilise inflation at its 2% target level in construction driven by housing investment. over a medium-term horizon. An uptick in world trade and surging demand for semiconductors boosted Korean exports. A. supplementary budget in mid-2017 also supported Figure B. Lending to households growth. However, high household debt and labour and residential property construction orders are slowing market slack continued to limit private consumption. Year-on-year percentage change Higher oil prices pushed inflation toward the 2%. inflation target and the current account surplus 15 80. remains large. 12 60. Figure A. The economy is projected to grow 9 40. around 3% a year in 2018 and 2019. 6 20.
4 2017 2018 2019. 3 0. Gross domestic product Lending to households by depository financial institutions (left scale). Private consumption Residential property construction orders (right scale). 0 -20. Gross fixed capital formation 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017. Exports Source: Financial Supervisory Commission; Bank of Korea . Imports 1 2 Unemployment rate Consumer price index Current account (% of GDP) but Korea faces risks, including high Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections household debt . (database). Korea is vulnerable to shocks, given its dependence on construction and a few key industries, The government aims to achieve income-led notably semiconductors. The government's plan to growth driven by job creation. Public employment promote innovation could lead to a broader-based is to be boosted by around 34% from a low base over recovery and faster growth. A rapid rise in wage costs five years. Government spending is to rise in line could weaken competitiveness if productivity gains with output growth, but the composition will shift.
5 Fail to keep pace. Protectionist pressures would affect The share of outlays on social welfare and public exports and business investment. employment will increase while that on investment Household debt has risen to 180% of in infrastructure and R&D falls. The government household disposable income, far above the OECD. plan to raise the minimum wage to KRW 10 000 average, in part due to structural factors. The implying a cumulative increase of 54% from 2017 government launched a comprehensive strategy in would also boost household income. late 2017 to address household debt, focusing on Output growth will remain close to Korea 's 3% new regulations on mortgage lending. It seeks to potential growth rate in 2018 and 2019. Sustained reduce household debt growth to per year, growth of world trade will boost Korean exports, which would still imply a further rise in household offsetting some slowing in domestic demand due to debt relative to GDP. On the other hand, the construction investment.
6 The tightening of loan-to- numerous housing-related measures during the value and debt-to-income ratios applied to mortgage past year might turn the slowdown in housing lending has slowed the growth of residential investment into a decline. The risk to the financial property orders (Figure B). However, the income-led sector is limited, however, as the delinquency rate OECD Economic Surveys : Korea OECD 2018. 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. on household loans is low and the capital adequacy Unbalanced growth driven by exports and ratio for banks is high. Moreover, 70% of household manufacturing has led to Economic and social debt is held by the top 40% of income earners and polarisation. Productivity in small and medium- household debt is backed by a rise in assets sized enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing has fallen (housing). Still, low-income households may be to less than one-third of that in large firms. SMEs vulnerable in a context of rising interest rates. are concentrated in services, where productivity is Korea 's traditional model of growth led by less than half of that in manufacturing.
7 Large exports produced by large business groups, known productivity gaps are reflected in wide wage as chaebols, is losing steam. Real GDP growth is dispersion. Workers in the bottom 10% of the slowing toward the OECD average (Figure C), while income distribution have seen virtually no wage Korea 's real per capita income is one-third below the growth during the past two decades. Consequently, top half of OECD countries (Figure D). The large wage inequality is high and increasing in Korea income gap reflects low labour productivity, which is (Figure E). 46% below the top half in the OECD. Figure E. Wage inequality is high and increasing in Korea Figure C. Korea 's output and export growth Ratio of the 90th percentile to the 10th percentile have slowed Ratio Annual percentage growth 14. - 1990 2016. Korea 12 OECD. 10 - - 8. - 6. - - - - 4. 2. - - FRA JPN AUS DEU GBR OECD CAN KOR USA. 0. 1991-2001 2001-11 2011-17 1991-2001 2001-11 2011-17. GDP Exports Source: OECD Earnings Distribution (database).
8 1 2 Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections (database). 1 2 reflecting weaknesses in the large business groups and SMEs Figure D. Labour productivity is low in Korea The government has placed reform of the and labour inputs are high Korea relative to the top half of OECD countries in 2016. business groups near the top of its agenda. The groups have played a key role in Korea 's rapid % difference 40 development, though the slowdown in Korea 's export growth since 2011 (Figure C) raises concern. 20. The groups remain leading players, with the top 30. accounting for about two-thirds of shipments in 0. manufacturing and a quarter of sales in services. -20 The groups continue to diversify, increasing the number of affiliated firms since 2000 (Figure F). -40. The concentration of Economic power appears -60 to stifle entrepreneurship and firm creation. GDP per capita Labour productivity Labour inputs Group-affiliated firms rank first in business Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections (database).
9 Lines accounting for more than two-thirds of 1 2 manufacturing sales. In addition to the impact on OECD Economic Surveys : Korea OECD 2018. 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY. Figure F. The number of firms affiliated Figure G. The price-to-earnings ratio with the large business groups is still rising of Korean firms is relatively low Number Price-to-earnings ratio 1400 36. Top 30. 1200 Top 4 30. 1000 Japan 24. 800 World 600 18. 400 12. Korea 200. 6. 0. 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015. 0. 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018. Source: Korea Fair Trade Commission. 1 2 Source: Bloomberg. 1 2 competition, ties between the groups and politicians have been a source of corruption. Since the 1980s, which was the fourth-most stringent in the OECD in the groups have been subject to special regulations. 2013, is concentrated in services. SMEs account for For example, cross-shareholding between firms in around 90% of employment in services. Moreover, the same business group is prohibited and there are the uncertainty, complexity and inconsistency of regulations on intra-group trading.
10 Nevertheless, the regulation burden smaller firms more. Second, SMEs'. regulations have failed to resolve the key concerns R&D is low and the share that participates in global related to the groups. innovation networks is the second lowest in the The groups are controlled by their founding OECD. Third, the share of small firms that participate family, even though their ownership share has in global value chains is the lowest in the OECD. fallen to an average of only 2% in the four largest Fourth, Korea ranks low in terms of entrepreneurship groups. The families maintain control through (Figure H), which does not have a very positive shareholding among the groups' affiliates, allowing image in Korea . Entrepreneurship opportunities are them to override the interests of the affiliated firms' especially limited for women. Fifth, the creation and shareholders, in the context of weak corporate growth of small firms is also constrained by a lack of governance. Outside directors are mandatory, but market-based financing.