The Korean Story: Secrets of an Economic Miracle
Length Length

11 modules, accessible at any time

Effort Effort

4-6 hours per module



Languages Languages


Video Transcripts Video Transcripts


Prerequisites Prerequisites


Requirements Requirements

An internet connection to access course materials

TRANSFORMATIVE economic growth in 3 decades
Probe into what is known as


TRANSFORMATIVE economic growth in 3 decades
The Korean RURAL SAEMAUL Movement


The Korean RURAL SAEMAUL Movement
Why early education, health and gender reforms matter
Understand the policies that shaped Korea's


Why early education, health and gender reforms matter
How to ACHIEVE the SDGs


How to ACHIEVE the SDGs


This course is self-paced – you can enroll immediately and complete the course materials at any time before August 31, 2024.

The Korean Story discusses the socio-political and historical context that has shaped the economic growth of South Korea. It probes into how South Korea, post-WWII, was able to transform its economy within three decades to emerge as a leading innovation and technology center in the 21st century.

It highlights South Korea’s current status in terms of human development indicators and the SDGs and offers insights on how other countries can achieve similar growth stories with structured reform and policy measures.

The course features modules from eight leading Korean experts in economics, politics, education, health, gender empowerment, rural development, and transportation. The eminent thought-leader in economics and sustainable development, Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs presents the introductory module about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while especially focusing on the Korean experience of setting goals and targets to achieve them.

The Korean Story: Secrets of an Economic Miracle is developed and produced by the KDI School of Public Policy and Management, in partnership with the SDG Academy.


  • Pre-recorded lectures
  • Readings
  • Quizzes
  • Discussion forum

Lead Faculty

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    Byoung-Joo Kim

    KDI School of Public Policy and Management

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    Soogil Young


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    Do-Hyun Han

    Academy of Korean Studies

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    Eun Kyung Kim

    Korea Women's Development Institute

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    Soonman Kwon

    Seoul National University

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    Jaehak Oh

    Korea Transport Institute (KOTI)

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    Jeffrey Sachs

    Columbia University

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    Sung Jin Kang

    Korea University

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    Ju-Ho Lee

    KDI School of Public Policy and Management

This course is for

Advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in the key concepts of nation-building, economic reform, governance and development.

Government officials and bureaucrats who want to understand more about South Korea’s development story.

Sustainable development practitioners – as well as private-sector actors, such as those who work in the financial sector – who need to understand the economic models that support and depend on sustainable development


Course logistics and requirements

This course is self-paced. All course components are available now and can be completed at any time that is convenient for the students. Please note that this course is not facilitated by a course team. We encourage students to engage with one another via the discussion forum. Any specific questions can be sent to the SDG Academy team at


Learners who successfully complete the course are eligible to receive a digital Verified Certificate signed by the course instructors. In order to successfully complete the course, students must score an average of 70% or higher on the graded components of the course.


Module 1: Introduction

An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals and South Korea’s experience of financing and mobilizing partnerships for achieving them.

Module 2: The Korean Economic Miracle: Its Secrets & Lessons

A comprehensive overview of Korea’s reforms from 1962-1992 that spearheaded its economic and financial growth.

Module 3: Achievements of the Korean Rural Saemaul Movement

This module describes the rise of the Saemaul Movement, its motivations and implementation at the local level.

Module 4: Health Policy and Universal Health Coverage

These chapters examine Korea’s health policy, which includes universal health coverage, immunization programs, establishing public health centres and providing National Health Insurance.

Module 5: Accumulating Human Capital for Sustainable Development in Korea

A bird’s eye view into the three pillars of human capital development in Korea: expanding educational opportunities, linking education with skill-building and combating brain-drain.

Module 6: The Role of Women in Korean Development

An overview of the status of women through Korea’s history and how women’s rights and political participation came about.

Module 7: Trade, Industry, and Competition

How trade, industry, and competition have facilitated Korea’s growth and structural transformation from a basic agrarian economy to a sophisticated manufacturing and service economy.

Module 8: Building an IT Economy: The Korean Experience

An overview of the achievements Korea has made through the implementation of the policy programs among the IT-based strategy.

Module 9: Environment and Global Considerations

What were the main environmental challenges that Korea faced during its years of economic growth? These chapters highlight the shift in paradigm towards achieving green growth.

Module 10: Transport Infrastructure and Economic Development

How dedicated policies and reform in Korea’s transportation sector influenced the overall growth story.

Module 11: Politics of Making Development Sustainable in South Korea

A scrutiny into the political-economy of South Korea through the ‘miracle years’ and its larger implications for development practice.