Credit: The Blue Roof.
According to the Bank of Korea 한국은행, South Korea’s central bank, the estimated gross national income (GNI) per capita for South Korea in 2022 was USD 32,886, a decline of 7.4%. (Overall GNI increased by 2.6%, however.) Disposable income per capita also declined by over 5%.
On the strength of its excellent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Korean economy was riding high until 2021, with its overall GDP overtaking Italy’s. The decline from USD 35,523 in 2021 places South Korea’s per capita GNI behind Taiwan’s (USD 33,565) for the first time in 20 years.
The BoK said the sudden drop in per capita GNI is largely attributable to the weakening of the Korean won, as the US dollar rose by 12.9% in 2022 relative to KRW. The strength of USD relative to KRW indicates that foreign investors are leaving the South Korean economy because of its anemic investment environment. (See previous coverage, “The Triple Quandary: KRW-USD Exchange Rate.”)