Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds much promise for the Republic of Korea. The Korean government developed its National Strategy for AI in 2019, building on the National AI R&D Strategy and Data Industry Vitalization Strategy, to revitalize Korean economy, transform Korean society and close the gap with global AI leaders. In 2022, the current administration announced 12 areas of National Core Technology, one of which is AI, and recognized the strategic importance of advancing AI to harness its scientific, diplomatic, and economic potential. As one of the most AI-ready countries in APAC, South Korea is creating a data dam to bolster its data ecosystem and make public data accessible to businesses and individuals to enhance AI innovation. To further strengthen the AI policy landscape, the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee of Korean National Assembly passed a proposed legislation (currently making its way through the parliament) to enact the AI Act which sets out the key principles for safe and responsible development of AI with the aim of improving the lives of Koreans.
Against this background, technology industry leaders have noted that AI is at an inflection point, with powerful new models like generative AI being introduced, and innovative new applications increasingly being used across society and capturing the imaginations of consumers. Generative AI has opened the door to more possibilities and is expected to play a role in tasks requiring creativity, curiosity, and looking at information differently. Therefore, the potential of generative AI lies in its ability to enable people to achieve greater creativity, effectiveness, and efficiency in their work.
This report seeks to contribute to this discussion by providing early insights and raising awareness of the economic opportunities that generative AI can create, and what it means for local industries and workforce readiness.
This study estimates that generative AI can potentially unlock USD 476.3 billion of productive capacity in South Korea, equivalent to a quarter of GDP in 2022. South Korea has an opportunity to better position its businesses and workers to unlock the potential of generative AI, as well as manage emerging risks. Policymakers will need to ensure that they have a clear national vision for AI, and that it focuses on preparing its workforce and establishing an enabling policy environment for AI adoption, including to answer the question “what is required to achieve the aspirations of a brighter future enabled by generative AI?”