What does Korea manufacture?
Updated: Feb 9
What does Korea manufacture?
Manufacturing has led Korea to grow rapidly into an industrial giant worldwide. It is the fifth-largest car producer and sixth largest steel manufacturer among the world's biggest construction firms. The economy is dominated by advanced manufacturing and services that employ the majority of the population. Its major manufactures include mobile telephones, consumer electronics, white goods for the home, vehicles, boats and steel, all exporting to the world.
Related: Where is Samsung Made?
Korea imports significant amounts of natural resources such as coal, iron ore, and oil as an advanced manufacturing economy.
With its highly skilled workforce, world-class technology, advanced research & innovation, and strategic position for Asia and the Pacific, Korea is an enticing hub for high-end manufacturing. Nevertheless, companies interested in developing production operations in Korea should bear in mind that it is not a low-cost spot. The Korean government strongly promotes foreign manufacturing investment and provides numerous incentives. Free trade, free economic zones and international investment zones provide unique opportunities for high-tech manufacturers to set up their sites.
Korean industry standards and brand leaders
The Korean government has set out to diversify export products and improve its quality through an annual selection of premium goods.
The project that had started with 120 products and 140 companies in 2001 increased to 784 products and 876 companies in 2018. The export of them occupied 40% for four years recently, playing an important role in the Korean economy. Especially, the occupation of small and medium-sized companies increased from 37% (2001) to 76% (2018), thanks to the improvement of the brand image of these companies and contribution to the advancement of the world market.
Information technology is the most influential element in the Korean economy, an industrial sector that encompasses both skills for innovation in management and administrative reforms, as well as skills in computer software, Internet, multimedia, and communication devices.
The country's good communication infrastructure was further improved with a national 4G network. 5G technology, which is the fifth-generation wireless technology, began to be commercialized in April 2019. Exports of ICT-related products totalled 197.6 billion USD in 2017.
The country shows strong competitiveness in mobile telephony, semiconductors, computers and peripheral devices, and continues to strive to maintain its leadership position in these sectors, responding to the needs of an environment as constantly changing like that of the ICT industry.
South Korea is also one of the world's leading automakers. In 2017, the country was ranked sixth globally, with a total production of 41.15 million vehicles.
Currently, only a few countries can build nuclear power plants. South Korea became the sixth largest exporter of nuclear power plant technology. Also, South Korea boasts strong international competitiveness in the steel and chemical sectors.
Video games, industry leaders in cultural content
South Korea has been a major producer of cultural content, such as K-Pop, TV shows and video games, as well as cars and consumer electronics.
Cultural products are a relatively new export sector for South Korea. Exported cultural content grew significantly, from USD 2.3 billion in 2008 to USD 7.5 billion in 2018, reflecting its rapid growth. This includes publications, music, video games, characters, TV productions, films and webtoons (digital comic strips of South Korean creation).
In 2017, the video game industry generated nearly 13 trillion won in sales domestically and exported for a combined $ 5.9 billion overseas. Korean computer and mobile video games are gaining popularity, not only in Asian countries such as China and Japan but also in North America.
The government has proposed a plan to become a leader in the fourth industrial revolution by supporting startups and developing a capacity to adapt to technological change.
As part of those efforts, a committee on the fourth industrial revolution will create an ecosystem for that revolution, in which new paths can be created through the generation of new ICTs and other services. The Committee will also function as a platform to prepare the country for future regulatory reform of technology, basic research, human resource development and strategic investment in the future industries.
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