South Korea 25th Most Prosperous Nation In The World

The 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index has put South Korea in 25th place for overall prosperity. To see the facts in more detail, read Legatum’s Report for South Korea.

Article from Yonhap News:

Korea was ranked the 25th most prosperous country in the world. In first place was Norway, for the sixth consecutive year.


Korea has been ranked the 25th most prosperous country in the world.

On October 3rd, according to the Drudge Report, a website based in the U.S., The Legatum Institute released its 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index which rates 142 countries.

Since 2008, the Legatum institute, a think tank based in the U.K., has been ranking countries according to grades from 8 different indices such as Economy, Entrepreneurship and Opportunity, Governance, Education, Personal Freedom, Health, Safety and Security, and Social Capital.

According to the publication, based on data collected in 2013, Korea ranked 5th among Asian countries. It’s ranking among all world countries was 25th, trailing Singapore (18th), Japan (19th), and Hong Kong (20th).

Korea’s ranking was one spot higher than last year’s index. Korea previously highest rank was 24th in the 2011 [Legatum Prosperity Index.]

Korea has ranked in the top 30 in 6 sub-indices. However, Korea ranked in the mid-range for personal freedom (59th) and social capital (69th). Social capital refers to cooperation or networking among community members.

Korea’s top two sub-indices are Economy (9th) and Education (15th).

When people were asked whether they are satisfied with the standard of living, 72.2% of them said “yes,” which was higher than the world average of 59.4%.

However, when asked about freedom of choice and whether where they live is good for immigrants, only 64-65% of people said yes, which was slightly lower than the world average.

When Koreans were asked if they had ever helped a stranger, the “yes” response was 5% lower than the world average of 48.9%.

Norway, which ranked in the top 5 in five sub-categories, has remained in its top position for the sixth year in a row, since 2009.

Switzerland ranked 2nd for the second year in a row, and New Zealand, leading in the Governance and Personal Freedom index, came in 3rd.

[New Zealand] is followed by Denmark, Canada, Sweden, Australia and The Netherlands. The U.S. ranked 10th.

So far, the U.S. hasn’t yet ranked within the top 10.

African countries, including The Central African Republic, Chad, (the People’s Republic of) Congo, Burundi, and others were found to be the least prosperous countries.

The national income per person in Luxemburg was 86,442 USD, 148 times higher than that of The Central African Republic at 584 USD per person.

In the Life Satisfaction index, Canada averages 7.6 out of 10 points, but Syria, struggling with poverty due to civil war, recorded only 2.7 points.

Comments from Naver:


A happy country seems better than a rich country.


Korea is top-ranking in suicide rates and rate of aging population.


Life satisfaction is completely personal. Countries in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia show higher levels of happiness than Korea does. There’s a right and wrong aspect to this. Though Southeast Asian countries are poor, neighbors are kind to each other. They don’t need to worry about what to eat since there are three harvests a year. This is unlike Korea where people have to work to death just to make ends meet. So people from Southeast Asia are poor, but not stressed out. They smile all the time. On the contrary when I lived in Japan, people had to work and study hard for a living, just like in Korea. They are always pessimistic and there are so many homeless people. What I mean to say is that even if the 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index ranking was in the order of Japan-Korea-Southeast Asia, people’s happiness is another issue.


Is the phrase “if one has a lot of money” missing after “a good country to live in”?


Though it is hard to compare Australia and Korea, in Australia, no matter how much you need to pay to the hospital, it is 100% paid by the Australian government. In Australia, people who are registered as unemployed can get 1.6 million won in monthly allowance. There is also a widow allowance for widows, a child allowance when someone has a newborn, a students’ allowance called Austudy that is more than enough for pocket money, a single mother’s allowance for child support, a housing allowance for those with no home that gets a decent house, and even a pension that pays about 1.8 million won monthly to those older than 65 irregardless if they worked from a young age or no. These systems are different from those in Korea where people without money will die. The situation in Korea like the three family members killing themselves due to poverty, and the old collecting waste paper from the street can’t happen in Australia. The problem here is the social system and the distribution of wealth.


Does it make sense that Korea’s suicide rate is number 1 in the world but Korea ranked 25th in prosperity…


For rich people it is 25th, and for ordinary people it is 125th. Korea reduces taxes for rich people, and increases taxes for ordinary people, ke ke ke.


Who the heck did they survey? How is it possible for Korea to rank as high as 25th?


Korea is a good country to live once you have money. But the fact is most people don’t have enough money.


It should be 125th, not 25th. Where did they do the survey, did they ask employees out in front of a Samsung building?


6th in the Economic index, ke ke, even when people kill themselves over debt.


Korea is just the right place for the rich. You can get food delivered night and day, and if you can live in a high-rise building, you can enjoy the great view.


Who was surveyed? Low income, high taxes, lots of overtime work, high prices.. So hard to raise a child, but Korea ranked 25th?


If you have lots of money, you would rank Korea within the top five as a good place to live. No need to worry about being killed by a gun.


For the rich, Korea isn’t 25th but 1st. For the poor, Korea isn’t 25th but 50th.

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  • Kbang

    Every countries have the problem of rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. But it seems only in Korea, they would rather see everyone poor rather then see any rich people. And the Gini Index show the gap between rich and poor is about world average, so it’s not that bad comparatively. There’s no reason why Korea can’t do much better than 25th, if only they had better personal freedom and better social community – things that money don’t buy, which drags their ranking down.

    • Small twon

      Koreans don’t wanna see everyone poor but every countryman treated fairly.Is it too much to dream in this cruel world ?

      • seno

        china makin africa and mideast rich elites treated fairly. south korea white man’s lapdog

        • Small twon

          Correction : Asian woman’s lapdog. President of South Korea is a woman, you know :)

    • Strangerland

      I think it’s not exclusive to Koreans- all of these jealousy over rich people is prevalent everywhere in the world.
      Problem is, Koreans people really take this jealpusy deep to their hearts- it must be said that their culture tendency also play a part. You know the tendency for stronger, more powerful, older, higher-level people in society to pull ranks over those lower in totem pole? That caused, and is still causing, a lot of depressed, unhappy, cornered people in Korea. This situation kind of remind me of old kingdoms where the peasants live their whole life in servitude of the higher class- or caste system- and it makes clouts of unhappiness overwhelming the land. Now add wealth distribution to the totem pole- as we all know- those of “higher class/level” tend to be wealthier and get more portions of the pie.
      So we have already depressed, cornered, bullied, enslaved people- plus poverty. I’m surprised Korean version of French Revolution hasn’t happened yet.
      But if this goes on- if the koreans’ higher class(face it- they’re still in ancient caste system) still take advantage upon its peasants- then when the explosion comes it’d be very ugly. Maye as ugly as French Revolution.

  • chosen

    and how much did SK pay for that result?

    • Guest1

      aw, you guys would make a perfect couple <3

    • Small twon

      Huh ? who is Tomita ?

      • Chucky3176

        Japanese swimmer who got caught on video stealing a camera, was fined, and returned to Japan – then got suspended by Japanese Olympic organization. The Japanese are now using him as a propaganda tool, saying he was innocent and that Koreans framed him to make Japan look bad. The funny thing is, this hardly made any news in Korea, but it’s Japan that’s making a huge fucking deal with all the news press conferences interrupting their daily broadcasts and such. Nobody in Korea would have noticed or cared, and this theft incident would have gone from memory – if Japan hadn’t made such a big deal.

        • Guest

          How the fuck do you know that then? lol. Now I am sure you are a zainichi who hates Japanese much more than ordinary koreans.

          • Chucky3176

            This is a major news in Japan.

            For instance here:



            The funny thing is it is Japan making a big deal over this, not South Korea. This, after the Japanese athlete apologized for the theft just couple of months ago when this first happened, now unapologizing (again.. big surprise there), now saying he was framed by Korean conspiracy to make Japan look bad. Good lord. This is the nature of Japanese culture – apologize, then take it back, then deny deny, deny, deny, by lying, lying, lying, and more lying. Pretty soon the persistent lying becomes the truth, with all the Japanese nationalists using this to spread their anti-Korean hate.

          • Paranoia Teitaikyo

            Get well prepared with your own praises for the time this Tomita case turns out to be complete false charge. lol

        • Small twon

          Oh that guy ! Now I remember, I read about him in the humor site but I forgot the name of guy.Thank you for the reply. I didn’t know that was that bid deal in Japan ,sure it was a news for about day or two but I thought it’s just very young man’s mistake so no big deal..I have no idea that is such a new in Japan.

        • wrle

          Its even more funny because the swimmer actually admitted and apologized for stealing the camera. I’m surprised I haven’t read anywhere about him being a korean lol. If it was the other way around, would be all over the news in japan and on to the “flaws” of korean DNA etc.

  • Danny

    these rankings are meaningless and doesn’t not hide the deep problems within korean society nor the fact that it is going the way of japan.

    • Zappa Frank

      that is the same for most industrialized countries. I think Koreans are a bit pessimistic seeing the half empty glass..

      • Guest

        Koreans always seem pessimistic. 25th or 125th wouldn’t make a difference. they cant give themselves a break.

    • Xio Gen

      You’re just pissed off because America isn’t #1.

      • jon777

        America is #1. A 0 is nothing so we can remove that and viola, what’s left? 1. USA USA USA.

  • Dee

    The grass is always greener on the other side….

  • commander

    Although I appreciate efforts put into translation, I can’t but point out that the original main article doesn’t deal with what implications this survey has for South Korea, and what weight the study carries internationally. There are too many statistics that the local media scramble to report, leaving the public expressing reactions like, “Here we go.”

    Fact relaying reporting is important when such information is attached with explanation why it is so important and has the worth catching your attention-an element this Yonhap News article appears to fail miserably.

  • Chucky3176

    From the Korea Times:

    “Conservatives ask why the government should provide free meals or childcare for the well-to-do. But welfare should be equal, something all people receive but pay for it differently, not the other way around. A chaebol owner’s child can, and should, have the same free meal as long as the rich father pays for it far more than others in taxes.”

    So they’re basically advocating for communism. Why should people with money be forced to eat the crap free meals, forcing them to overpay for the crap meals? Unfortunately, this is the ideal that Koreans are being brainwashed with. They keep bringing up Northern Europeans and their fabulous utopian social welfare system. Well, but then these same people who advocate this, stay mum on 50%, 60%, 70% income tax rates that these Northern Europeans are saddled with. Sure I bet South Koreans would love those income tax rates where they fork over most of their income to the state.

    • 금정산

      That isn’t strictly true. That is a socialist policy within a capitalist system – I wouldn’t go the extreme and say “communist”. You often hear people equate socialism to communism, but the two are different in that communism is a political system whereas socialism is mostly an economic system. Communism is extreme left whereas socialism (as in this case) can be centre-left.

      The reason I mention this is that cold-war governments promoted anti-communist propaganda. Nowadays the mention of “communism” is unfairly applied to left-of-centre policies and can emerge such hatred and fear.

      Why do you say the meals are crap?

      Strictly speaking, a chaebol owner would be contributing more in tax, not directly (over)paying for the child’s lunch.

      • Xman2014

        The meals are crap when they force you to eat it, just because they want to enforce the impossible ideal of same social income levels.

        • 금정산

          Is it really about enforcing some ideal? If they are to provide free lunches to all students, how can they be anything other than the same for everyone?

          • Chucky3176

            Much of those free lunch are thrown away into garbage dumps, uneaten, as the quality of the meals have decreased to unacceptable levels. What a waste of money and resources – all because they want to enforce some kind of a socialist paradise where everyone is equal. In the meanwhile, a lot of the public schools are going into dangerous disrepair because the cities are cutting their education budgets to pay for such programs like free meals for everyone that nobody eats. Just bring down the quality of services for everyone, as long as everyone is poor on the same level – we’re all good here. It’s just total craziness.

          • 금정산

            Or maybe food is thrown away because of poor logistics? Does the amount discarded really coincide with the decrease in quality? Without knowing where that information comes from, I can’t speculate. And why do you say the meals are crap? Can you show me a link?

            It may not be about enforcing some egalitarian paradise. It could be about promoting nutrition standards. It could be to assist families in the lower income range to properly feed their children. Or to help these children who are looked down upon or bullied for coming from a poorer background.

            If cities are cutting into their education budgets to pay for these programs, it means that these programs were never given enough funding. I find it difficult to believe that a nation with a history of famine would implement a program inadequate of funding which would leave the children hungry. But if that is the case, then that is a tax issue for the government to rectify and an adequate level of taxes needs to go to this program.

          • Xio Gen

            Or, here’s an idea, how about just make the food better instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

    • elizabeth

      As far as I know, ‘welfare’ in the form of free meals and childcare from the government fall under ‘(financial) aid for those in need’. The rich are not in need. Nor are they advocating communism (in which case, they would have to give all of their possessions to be shared with fellow countrymen). It just a case of twisting the meanings of concepts to suit ones purposes.

      • Chucky3176

        “As far as I know, ‘welfare’ in the form of free meals and childcare from the government fall under ‘(financial) aid for those in need’.”

        That’s not what Korea Times is advocating when it says:

        “The partisan bickering will likely take the nation back to the debate over the fundamental question of which is better between universal and selective welfare. We believe in the former”

        Crazy to give welfare to the rich and well to do, so that the poor don’t feel that they’re getting special treatment… I’m not surprised that South Korea ran into huge budget problems when they tried to do this without massively raising taxes. But alas, that’s what this paper is advocating when it writes:

        “The nation’s tax burden, on the other hand, is below the OECD’s average. Can there be any doubts, then about the direction in which Korea should go? ”

        South Koreans enjoy the fifth largest disposable income in the OECD, because the taxes are so low, and this paper and others like it, want to destroy that. If they want to see the already bad consumer spending and bad domestic economy, then go right ahead raise those taxes and see what will happen. Socialism has been proven that itself that it doesn’t work. And don’t bring up Norway, a country of few million people with vast amount of oil reserves and natural resources.

        • Xio Gen

          Taxes are so low… for the rich. Not for the average Seoulite.

  • ytuque

    The population is still unhappy.

    • Paul

      How would you know?
      Did you personally meet and ask every person “are you happy” no you didn’t!!!

      So don’t make wild assumptions.

      • ytuque

        How stupid are you? There are country surveys conducted by the OECD, and certainly the high suicide rate might also be an indication.

        S. Korea has one of the most unhappy populations in the world among developed countries.

      • Guest

        The fact that the very high rate of suicides is enough to know that Koreans are unhappy.

  • Xio Gen

    It’s funny they talk about Thailand like they’re poor when they’re actually a first world country. They’re the richest in Southeast Asia after Singapore and Brunei.

    But come on, koreabang. Irregardless? Seriously?

  • jonny

    south korea is the 3rd most ignorant country in the world according to a new study:

    • Sillian

      You forgot to add that only 14 countries were surveyed. That’s not the ‘world’.

      For the people who wouldn’t bother to check what the ‘index of ignorance’ is, it measures how much people in each country overestimate or underestimate numbers regarding their own country’s demographics and social issues.

      • jonny

        They surveyed only first world countries. Surely there’s no need to include countries like Congo, Iran, or Peru in the mix?

        • Sillian

          A dozen of first world countries =/= the world comprised of 200ish countries. That’s all.

          • jonny

            none of the countries in south america, africa, the middle east, or asia (except japan, south korea) are considered first world.

  • Phil Phakename

    November 3, not October.

    And why did the Yonhap story credit Drudge? Kind of stupid, considering they could have just checked the institute’s website directly.

  • What?!!!

    “If you have lots of money, you would rank Korea within the top
    five as a good place to live. …”

    Indeed, what with all the Michelin Star restaurants, lakeside manors and world class ski resorts that Korea has to offer. It’s hard to believe there aren’t already droves of hedge fund managers and Saudi Sheikhs blocking up the Han in their superyachts and taking up residence in Gangnam.

  • KoreanPeninsulaDisqus

    South Korea for past 70 years developed fast…….

  • ChosunPeninsula

    Korean Peninsula can be better place united as one nation.

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