SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea joining the ranks of the exclusive "20-50 club" marks a new chapter in the development history of the country, the government said Saturday.
The finance ministry said as the country's population has passed the 50 million mark and it has been able to maintain a per capita income of over US$20,000, South Korea has achieved an unprecedented feat for a newly industrialized economy.
The 20-50 club is a coined termed by the local media to highlight countries who possess sizable populations and yet maintain high levels of personal income. There are many countries around the world with per capita exceeding $20,000, but many have small populations. Besides South Korea, there are 25 countries with a population of 50 million, although many have low incomes and are still in the process of economic development.
"South Korea is the seventh country to meet the two criteria, and the first country that was not a industrialized economy before World War 2 to achieve this," the ministry in charge of the country's economic policies said.
Japan was the first to meet the standard in 1987, followed immediately by the United States in 1988, with France and Italy making the list in 1990. Germany joined in 1991 with Britain being included in 1996.
"All the other countries have gone on to increase their per capita to $30,000, an indication that a sizable population is an important factor for sustainable economic growth," it said.
The ministry, however, said that despite the achievement, the country must take steps to cope with rapid aging of the population caused by the record low birthrate, and a slowdown in economic growth potential as the country will face a drop in people of working age.
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