Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, South Korea’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.7 trillion in 2014.
Therefore, exports accounted for about 32% of total South Korean economic output.
Given South Korea’s population of 48.4 million people, its total $573.1 billion in exports during 2014 translates to roughly $11,847 for every person in the country.
South Korea’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in South Korean global shipments during 2014. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Korea.
- Electronic equipment: $138,234,071,000 (24.1% of total exports)
- Vehicles excluding trains and streetcars: $73,343,530,000 (12.8%)
- Machinery: $63,051,130,000 (11.0%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $52,670,787,000 (9.2%)
- Ships, boats and other floating structures: $38,339,918,000 (6.7%)
- Optical, technical and medical apparatus: $35,901,300,000 (6.3%)
- Plastics: $31,835,781,000 (5.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $24,398,046,000 (4.3%)
- Iron and steel: $23,958,185,000 (4.2%)
- Iron or steel products: $12,658,965,000 (2.2%)
South Korea is a highly export-driven and industrialized economy. The above list reflects the strong Korean focus on producing electronics, automobiles, machinery, petrochemicals, ships and robotics.
Among the top 10 exports, only ships, boats and other floating structures (down 18%) and optical, technical and medical apparatus (down 5.1%) declined over the 5-year period ending in 2014. Iron or steel products were up 64.7% followed by mineral fuels including oil up 61.7%.
South Korea’s unemployment rate was 3.4% in 2014.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
Top South Korean Export Companies
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are examples of leading South Korean exporters for 2014:
- LG Electronics (dryers, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers)
- Samsung Electronics (telecommunication equipment, refrigerators, freezers)
- Hankook Tire (rubber inner tubes, vehicle tires, latex)
See also South Korea’s Top Import Partners, Fastest-Growing South Korean Export Products and Highest Value South Korean Export Products
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on January 27, 2015
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports and World Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on January 27, 2015
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on January 27, 2015
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on August 21, 2015