AFRASO Lecture by Sabine Burghart (University of Turku): "South Korea’s Foreign Aid: An East Asian Exception?"

We are delighted to invite you to the upcoming AFRASO Lecture: "South Korea’s Foreign Aid: An East Asian Exception?" by Sabine Burghart (University of Turku). The lecture will take place on January, 24th in room H 10 (Campus Bockenheim, Hörsaaltrakt (Gräfstr. 50)) from 4 pm - 6 pm.



With the emergence of a growing number of donor countries and new institutions, such as the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a “silent revolution” (Woods 2007) of the aid architecture has been underway. The rise of new donors has led to more competition in the aid system, allowing recipient governments “more aggressive bargaining” (Whitfield 2009: 364). South Korea joined the OECD-DAC in 2010 and is still a relatively small donor concentrating its official development assistance (ODA) in Asia. China has become an important player in Africa, while Japan – the first Asian OECD-DAC member – has traditionally channelled its aid to Asia.

Studies on East Asian donors show several commonalities with regard to aid-giving, such as the allocation of aid predominantly to sectors of economic and social infrastructure (e.g. Stallings and Kim 2016). Moreover, East Asian ODA is usually part of a larger economic package of loans, credits and foreign direct investment (Stallings and Kim 2016) and based on a close relationship between the public and private sector in the donor country. Bearing in mind that China and South Korea used to be the top recipients of Japanese foreign aid for decades, these commonalities are considered “very natural” (Iwata 2012). This observation has prompted some scholars to speak of ‘a distinct Northeast Asian model of ODA’ (Reilly 2012).

The lecture introduces the three East Asian donors, presents similarities and differences of East Asian aid and discusses whether South Korea’s ODA aid is an East Asian exception.


Recommended literature:

Kim, Eun Mee, Pil Ho Kim and Jinkyung Kim: ‘From development to development cooperation: foreign aid, country ownership, and the developmental state in South Korea’, The Pacific Review, Vol. 26, No.3 (2013), pp. 313-336.

Lumsdaine, David and James C. Schopf: ‘Changing values and the recent rise in Korean development assistance’, The Pacific Review, Vol. 20, No.2 (2007), pp. 221-255.

Stallings, Barbara and Kim, Eun Mee (2016), ‘Japan, Korea and China: Styles of ODA in East Asia’, in Hiroshi Kato, John Page and Yasutami Shimomura (ed), Japan’s Development Assistance: Foreign Aid and the Post-2015 Agenda, Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, pp. 120–134.


Short bio:

Sabine Burghart is University Lecturer and Academic Director of the Master’s Programme in East Asian Studies at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku (Finland). She holds a PhD degree in East Asian economy and society from the University of Vienna and a MA degree in political science from the University of Leiden. Ms. Burghart spent more than five years of her professional career in Korea; between 2004 and 2007 she managed various capacity building projects and facilitated three EU-DPRK economic workshops in North Korea. Her current research interest is on South Korea’s ODA in Tanzania.

24. January 2018