Overview In 2020, South Korea was the number 10 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 5 in total exports, the number 9 in total imports, the number 37 economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) and the number 5 most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).

Exports The top exports of South Korea are Integrated Circuits ($89.1B), Cars ($36.9B), Refined Petroleum ($23.3B), Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.3B), and Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($16B), exporting mostly to China ($131B), United States ($75B), Vietnam ($48B), Hong Kong ($30.9B), and Japan ($25.1B).

In 2020, South Korea was the world's biggest exporter of Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.3B), Blank Audio Media ($10.4B), Cyclic Hydrocarbons ($5.46B), Styrene Polymers ($3.23B), and Synthetic Rubber ($2.53B)

Imports The top imports of South Korea are Crude Petroleum ($42.2B), Integrated Circuits ($38.6B), Petroleum Gas ($16.3B), Refined Petroleum ($12.9B), and Cars ($11.8B), importing mostly from China ($110B), United States ($53.4B), Japan ($42.9B), Germany ($20B), and Vietnam ($19.6B).

In 2020, South Korea was the world's biggest importer of Inorganic Salts ($642M), Carbonates ($506M), Starch Residue ($489M), Felt Machinery ($374M), and Manganese ($135M)

Location South Korea borders North Korea by land and China and Japan by sea.

January, 2023

Historical Data

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Top Export (2020): Integrated Circuits, $89.1B

Top Destination (2020): China, $110B

In 2020, South Korea exported a total of $531B, making it the number 5 exporter in the world. During the last five reported years the exports of South Korea have changed by -$5.21B from $536B in 2015 to $531B in 2020.

The most recent exports are led by Integrated Circuits ($89.1B), Cars ($36.9B), Refined Petroleum ($23.3B), Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.3B), and Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($16B). The most common destination for the exports of South Korea are China ($131B), United States ($75B), Vietnam ($48B), Hong Kong ($30.9B), and Japan ($25.1B).

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Fastest Growing Export Markets (2019 - 2020)

Fastest Growing Import Markets (2019 - 2020)

South Korea Exports Services (2018): $96.3B

South Korea Imports Services (2018): $118B

In 2018, South Korea exported $96.3B worth of services. The top services exported by South Korea in 2018 were Transportation ($27.7B), Other business services ($21.7B), Travel ($15.3B), Construction services ($12.7B), and Royalties and license fees ($7.75B).

The top services imported by South Korea in 2018 were Other business services ($32.9B), Transportation ($32.1B), Travel ($32B), Royalties and license fees ($9.88B), and Construction services ($3.27B).

Economic Complexity

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Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

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South Korea has a high level of specialization in Oxometallic or Peroxometallic Acid Salts (12.1), Inorganic Compounds (8.57), Passenger and Cargo Ships (8.4), Halides (8.26), and Carbon Paper (6.09). Specialization is measured using RCA, an index that takes the ratio between South Korea observed and expected exports in each product.

Most Complex Products by PCI

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The highest complexity exports of South Korea according to the product complexity index (PCI) are Metalworking Transfer Machines (2.55), Developed Exposed Photographic Material (2.45), Photo Lab Equipment (2.15), Photographic Chemicals (2.08), and Disc Chemicals for Electronics (2.01). PCI measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters.

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

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The top export opportunities for South Korea according to the relatedness index, are Incomplete Movement Sets (0.34), Photographic Film (0.32), Watch Movements (0.3), Blown Glass (0.28), and Electrical Parts (0.27). Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product. The barchart show only products that South Korea is not specialized in.

The product space is a network connecting products that are likely to be co-exported. The product space can be used to predict future exports, since countries are more likely to start exporting products that are related to current exports. Relatedness measures the distance between a product, and all of the products a country currently specializes in.

Relatedness Space

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This network shows the products most related to the production structure of South Korea. These are products that tend to be co-exported with the products that South Korea exports. Higher relatedness values ​​indicate greater knowledge, which predicts a greater probability of exporting that product in the future.

Diversification Frontier

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The Complexity-Relatedness diagram compares the risk vs strategic value of a country's potential export oppotunities. Relatedness is predictive of the probability that a country increases its exports in a product. Complexity, is associated with higher levels of income, economic growth, less income inequality, and lower greenhouse emissions.

Economic Complexity Ranking

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During the last 20 years South Korea's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively more complex, moving from the ⁩⁨32nd to the 5th⁩ position in the ECI rank.

These economic complexity rankings use 6 digit exports classified according to the HS96 classification. We consider only countries with population of at least 1 million and exports of at least $1 billion, and products with world trade over $500 million. To explore different rankings and vary these parameters visit the custom rankings section.

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