Korea ranks high in the OECD in terms of investment in research and development (R&D) and share of international patents. Its R&D budget exceeds 20 trillion won this year, and it is the world’s fifth largest holder of international patents. However, the country places 19th among 20 major OECD countries in terms of technology export-import ratio. This means its R&D achievements are not translated into technology exports.
According to the data released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Korea accounted for 6.6 percent of international patents by filing 68,130 patent applications for five years between 2015 and 2019. The country was surpassed by the United States with 25 percent, Japan with 20.3 percent, China with 16.4 percent, and Germany with 8.2 percent.
According to OECD statistics, Korea ranked 11th in the world in technology trade in 2017 by posting US$28.28 billion. However, the country registered a deficit of US$4.678 billion in technology trade. Besides, Korea ranked low in terms of technology export-import ratio. Korea posted 0.63 while Japan placed first with 6.55.
The figure shows that Korea has failed to meet demand for high technologies from the industry. It still relies heavily on foreign technologies and has a long way to go to become technologically independent.
The Korean government has set aside over 24 trillion won for its total R&D budget for 2020, including 2.1 trillion won to localize materials, parts and equipment. The National Fiscal Management Plan shows that the government plans to increase the R&D budget by an annual average of 10 percent to 30.9 trillion won until 2023, nearly 1.5 times from this year, to attain stable supply of key materials, parts and equipment earlier than scheduled.