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 2013.
Therefore, exports accounted for about 33.6% of total South Korean economic output.
Given South Korea’s population of 49 million people, its total $559.6 billion in exports during 2013 translates to roughly $11,412 for every person in the country. This compares with a benchmark $2,545 in exports per person for the world’s total exports (assuming an estimated global population of 7,095,217,980 per the CIA World Factbook).
South Korea’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in South Korean global shipments during 2013. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Korea.
- Electronic equipment: $135,502,617,000 (24.2% of total exports)
- Vehicles excluding trains and streetcars: $72,783,929,000 (13%)
- Machinery: $59,327,144,000 (10.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $54,093,985,000 (9.7%)
- Optical, technical and medical apparatus: $35,946,520,000 (6.4%)
- Ships, boats and other floating structures: $35,845,842,000 (6.4%)
- Plastics: $31,179,306,000 (5.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $24,855,250,000 (4.4%)
- Iron and steel: $22,275,412,000 (4%)
- Iron or steel products: $11,181,093,000 (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 declined over the 5-year period ending in 2013, posting a 15.6% slowdown. Mineral fuels including oil were up 127.4% followed by organic chemicals at 89.8%.
South Korea unemployment rate was 3.2% in 2013.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.
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 March 20, 2014
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports and World Population, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 20, 2014
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on March 20, 2014