As Korea’s transformation continues, it is set to be a leader in the digital era.


Since the Korean War ended in 1953, the Republic of Korea has had a remarkable transformation, becoming an economic and political powerhouse.

This transformation has been referred to as the ‘Miracle on the Han River’.

Korea is among the largest economies in Asia and a global leader in research and development intensity, digital displays and semiconductors. It is home to iconic brands including Samsung, LG and POSCO.

The ‘Korean Wave’ of popular culture (including K-pop, K-drama and K-beauty) is now a global phenomenon.

This trajectory looks set to continue, with many forecasters expecting Korea to be among the most affluent countries in the world (by GDP per capita) by 2050.


Korea is Queensland’s third-largest trading partner.

Both Korea and Queensland benefit from the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA).

Bongeunsa Temple in the Gangnam District of Seoul, Korea.

Korea opportunities



  • Funds management
  • Premium processed food and beverages
  • Superfoods and functional foods
  • Horticulture
  • Nutraceuticals
  • School study tours and vocational education and training (VET)
  • Civil infrastructure
  • Renewable energy
  • Joint research and development


  • Funds management and co-investment
  • Premium processed food and beverages
  • Superfoods, functional foods and food tech
  • Biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals
  • Medical devices and medical technology
  • School study tours and specialist VET
  • Infrastructure (civil, social and digital)
  • Intelligent transport systems (ITS)
  • Renewable energy and energy storage
  • Joint research and development, and commercialisation

Sector opportunities in Korea

Ageing population in Korea

Ageing population

Ongoing changes in health needs associated with a rapidly ageing population are driving demand for a broad range of bio-health-related products and services.

Pension funds are swelling, with contributions outweighing outlays 3 to 1, and are under intense pressure to boost returns. Asset allocations to alternative investments such as commercial property, infrastructure and private equity are increasing.

1Australian Trade and Investment Commission. (2018). Aged care to Korea.

Food self-sufficiency rations are falling below 50%

Food and agribusiness

Approximately 70% of food products in Korea are imported, and Koreans’ loyalty for selected domestic products is declining.2

Korean tastes are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated and, as a result, Korea’s imports of processed food, functional food and food ingredients continue to increase, growing 7% from the previous year to be close to $35 billion in value in 2017.

Australia’s food and agriculture exports to Korea (including beverages) are valued at close to $3.5 billion.3

2Financial Tribune. (2017). Steep Decline in South Korea Self-Sufficiency.

3Australian Trade and Investment Commission. (2017). Food and beverage to Korea.

Number one in the world for R&D intensity


Korea is committed to investing in education and human capital.
In 2016, Korea’s investment in research and development was valued at A$87 billion or 4.24% of GDP,4 an increase of 5.2% from the previous year. Korea ranked number 1 for the 5th consecutive year in global innovation according to Bloomberg’s Global Innovation Index.5

4Nature International Journal of Science. (2018).

5World Economic Forum. (2018).