South Korea's per capita gross national income surpassed the 30-thousand dollar mark for the first time in 2018.
The Bank of Korea says per capita GNI was 31-thousand 3-hundred-49 U.S. dollars last year, up 5.four percent on-year.
"Korea has become the seventh country in the world with a population of over 50 million to have passed the thirty thousand mark. Passing the 30-thousand dollar mark is seen as a measure of recognition as a developed nation."
Korea's per capita GNI passed the 10-thousand dollar mark back in 1994, the 20-thousand dollar mark in 2006, and has now passed the thirty-thousand dollar milestone.
This puts Korea on the same tier as six other countries: the U.S., France, the UK, Germany, Japan, and Italy, which all have more than 50 million people.and a per capita income of at least 30-thousand dollars.
But gross national income includes government and companies' income, and experts point out a higher per capita GNI doesn't mean Korean households are all better off.
"Real GNI, which takes into account terms of trade, grew 1 percent on-year last yearthe slowest pace since the global financial crisis. Deteriorating terms of trade means households' disposable income didn't really go up last year due to higher prices of imported goods like oil."
The income gap between the top 20 percent and bottom 20 percent hit 5.57 in the fourth quarter of 2017, making it the largest income gap since 2003 meaning a higher per capita income isn't being felt by all Korean households.
As for Korea's GDP growth, the BOK said it grew by two.seven percent in 2018-- the slowest pace in six years.
Exports and consumption contributed to economic growth, while investment fell sharply.
Citing growing structural problems like a low fertility rate and aging population, the BOK said narrowing income disparity and creating more quality jobs will be important to achieve sustainable growth going forward and for households to actually feel an increase in purchasing power.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News