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JKM > Volume 45(1); 2024 > Article
Hwang, Lee, Kim, Nam, Lee, Baik, and Chae: Current Status and Sustainable Development Strategies of Traditional Korean Medicine Official Development Assistance (ODA) in Global Health



Korea has a unique history of being both a recipient and a donor of Official Development Assistance (ODA), and the international community expects Korea to contribute to the development of developing countries by utilizing this experience. Traditional Korean medicine (TKM) seeks to contribute to global health, however the concept of ODA has been unclear and there has been no clear strategy and sustainable initiatives.


This study examines the concept of ODA and its application in global health, including business objectives, scale, evaluation principles, and development strategies. Additionally, we reviewed the current status of Traditional Korean medicine globalization projects and conducted a SWOT analysis of the internal and external environment of the TKM sector. Based on these findings, we redefined the concept of ODA for TKM and proposed suggestions for its development.


The current study identified key ideas for TKM ODA. It should prioritize the improvement of primary healthcare in recipient countries, aligning with the international evaluation criteria of the SDGs. Secondly, TKM’s 70 years of experience can be leveraged to enhance both the competence and economic benefits of recipient countries’ medical systems. Based on these concepts, a TKM ODA development model was proposed, comprising two core visions, three development strategies and goals, and six core values.


This study systematically examined the TKM in global health and suggested sustainable development strategies for TKM ODA. Through its expansion, TKM could contribute to the advancement of global traditional medicine and its overall engagement in healthcare.


본 연구는 부산대학교의 연구비지원을 받았음.
(This work was supported by a 2-Year Research Grant of Pusan National University.)

Fig. 1
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations
Fig. 2
Major targets of SDGs goal 3
Fig. 3
Development model of Traditional Korean Medicine ODA
Table 1
Development Assistance Committee (DAC) List of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Recipients (Effective for Reporting on 2024 and 2025 Flows)
Category of the recipients Countries
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia
Low Income Countries which are not LDCs (per capita GNI <= $1,135 in 2022) Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syrian Arab Republic
Lower Middle Income Countries and territories which are not LDCs (per capita GNI $1,136 – $4,465 in 2022) Algeria, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Eswatini, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Micronesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tokelau, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe
Upper Middle Income Countries and territories which are not LDCs (per capita GNI $4,466 – $13,845 in 2022) Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, China (People’s Republic of), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Montserrat, Namibia, Nauru, Niue, North Macedonia, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Helena, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Wallis and Futuna, West Bank and Gaza Strip
Table 2
Official Development Assistance Amount of Korea (on a grant equivalent basis, USD million)
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Official Development Assistance (ODA) 2,355 2,463 2,250 2,873 2,786
ODA/GNI (%) 0.14 0.15 0.14 0.16 0.17
Bilateral ODA 1,731 1,857 1,751 2,168 2,189
Grants 1,128 1,171 1,155 1,384 1,498
Loans 603 686 597 784 691
Multilateral ODA 624 606 499 704 597
Table 3
27 Core Partner Countries of Korea
Core Partner Countries (’11–15) 2nd Core Partner Countries (’16–20) 3rd Core Partner Countries (’21–25)
Asia Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Myanmar, India
Africa Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon Ghana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Egypt
Middle east and CIS Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan
Latin America Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay
Oceania Solomon Islands
Total Number of Countries 26 24 27
Table 4
SWOT Analysis of Traditional Korean Medicine
Internal factors Strength(S) Weakness(W)

External factors 70 years of development and successful experience in Korean medicine
World-leading Korean medicine research capabilities
Highly developed traditional medical system
Lack of ODA experience (recipient country/donor country)
Lack of ODA planning and implementation experts
Lack of policy support and research from the government
Opportunity (O) South Korea as a role model for ODA
Growing interest in traditional medicine
Increased funding for international health ODA

Present and utilize Korea’s successful development experience to recipient countries
Highlight Korean medicine as a strength of Korean-style international health projects
Prioritize real-world development projects centered on recipient countries
Planning of effective projects centered on recipient countries
Increased capacity of domestic experts
Development of Korean medicine ODA professionals
Development of a comprehensive Korean medicine ODA plan

Threat (T) Lack of trust in new models of international development cooperation
Capacity needed for long-term
Korean medicine ODA projects
Increased competition from China in the field of traditional medicine, requiring differentiation and specialization

Expansion of Policy support for showcase projects and successful experiences
Policy support for Korean medicine ODA research
Strengthening the role of the Korean medicine ODA expert group
Hosting of regular forums and symposia and network building
Increased ODA role of Korean medicine specialized institutions
Expansion of research on traditional medicine in overseas cultures/countries
Establishment of a career ladder for Korean medicine ODA


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