Korea's per-capita GDP ranked 34th in the world and exceeded US$20,000 last year, but based on purchasing power parity it was closer to $30,000, which is similar to Japan.
According to the latest economic forecast by the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday, Korea's GDP was $1.71 trillion last year, placing it 15th out of 184 countries, unchanged from 2009. Per-capita GDP was $20,591, up three notches from the previous year and back above $20,000 for the first time since the global financial crisis. Although the economy continued to expand, the won plummeted due to the crisis, driving down the dollar conversion value.
But last year Korea's economy grew 6.2 percent while the won stabilized slightly, so the figure returned to over $20,000.
In terms of economic size, the U.S. was still the world's no. 1 with $14.76 trillion, followed by China ($5.88 trillion), which was ahead of Japan ($5.46 trillion) for second straight year. Germany was next with $3.32 trillion, then France ($2.58 trillion) and the U.K. ($2.25 trillion).
But in terms of per-capita GDP tiny tax haven Luxembourg came first with $108,832, followed by Norway ($84,444), Qatar ($76,168), Switzerland ($67,246) and the United Arab Emirates ($59,717). The U.S. ($47,284) ranked ninth, Japan 16th ($42,820), and the U.K. a poor 22nd ($36,120).
Japan's per-capita GDP was twice as high as Korea's, but based on purchasing power parity, which considers a country's consumer prices, there was little difference between the two.
Korea's per-capita GDP based on PPP was $29,836 last year, 26th in the world and up five notches from 2009, while Japan's stood at $33,805 at 25th.
Qatar had the highest per-capita GDP based on PPP at $88,559, followed by Luxembourg ($81,383), Singapore ($56,522) and Norway ($52,013). The IMF forecast Korea's PPP-based income will surge to $40,777 by 2016.