Korea is slower than Asian rivals like China, Singapore and Taiwan as well as advanced countries such as Germany and Japan in catching up with the U.S., according to a survey.
Korea ranked 23rd in the world with 26 points out of 100 in terms of economic growth speed in 2013 based on a joint survey by the Chosun Ilbo and Seoul National University led by Prof. Lee Keun.
The survey evaluates how well countries can catch up with the world's economic superpower based on their income level -- purchasing power parity per capita -- and the scale of their economy in the global economy.
Korea's GDP per capita based on PPP stood at US$28,644 last year, accounting for 1.7 percent of total global GDP.
But tiny Singapore came fourth with $55,739, Japan fifth ($31,846), China sixth ($8,496), Hong Kong ninth ($45,502), and Taiwan 18th ($34,321). Outside Asia, Germany came seventh and France 13th.
Korea fell behind because the growth of people's income at 24th in the world is slow compared to the scale of economy (15th).
"Differences in the speed of growth are beginning to emerge among the so-called four Asian tigers Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan whose economy once grew at a similar speed," Lee said.
Korea's per-capita income has remained stalled at around 90 percent of Japan's for years. It grew dramatically from 40.8 percent of Japan's in 1990 to 86.7 percent in 2010. But it was 89.1 percent in 2012 and 89.9 percent in 2013 and has obviously hit a ceiling.
In contrast, Taiwanese people's income rose from 51 percent of Japan's in 1990 to 87.6 percent in 2005 and exceeded Japanese people's with 103.9 percent for the first time in 2010 and rose to 107 percent in 2012 and 2013.
"Korea and Japan are in similar economic conditions, including an aging society," Lee added. "If Korea's economic growth remains stalled at the current level, it may never catch up with Japan."