South Korean K2 tanks during the live-fire drill in Gyeonggi-do on February 11, 2015.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
South Korea’s defense industry has seen meteoric growth in recent years.
Countries are spending more on defense, and Seoul’s affordable, high-quality hardware is in demand.
South Korea’s president has said that he wants to make it the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter.
A growing sense of instability in the year since Russia attacked Ukraine has prompted multiple countries to increase their defense spending, and the global defense industry is now set to break records in sales and growth.
No country is better positioned to benefit from this than South Korea. Its defense sector has seen meteoric grown in recent years, setting records for foreign sales in both 2021 and 2022.
2023 is also shaping up to be a good year for South Korea’s defense industry. Twenty-nine South Korean companies participated in this year’s International Defence Exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February. Among developments there was a $920 million deal with Malaysia for 18 FA-50s, a light combat aircraft that has attracted interest around the world.
The sales are the result of a half-century of rapid development that has vaulted South Korea from having no defense industry at all to being one of the world’s largest arms exporters.
Polish soldiers with the first K2 tanks and K9 howitzers delivered to Poland in Gdynia on December 6.
MATEUSZ SLODKOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
South Korea’s quest for a domestic defense industry began in 1968, after several particularly aggressive actions by North Korea and a shift in US defense policy convinced then-President Park Chung-hee that the country needed its own suppliers.
South Korea’s defense industry was originally tailored to meet the country’s own needs, and Seoul assisted its growth with subsidies and other incentives. It also required foreign companies that wanted to sell defense products to South Korea to either build them at least partially in the country or incorporate South Korean-made components.
South Korea’s industry slowly began exporting to foreign countries in 1977, and by 2016, it was the 13th-largest defense exporter in the world, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
As South Korea’s defense products increased in quality, so too did its exports. In 2020, SIPRI designated South Korea the …read more
Source:: Business Insider