Even before the country's good economic performance in the coronavirus crisis, South Korea's national income was on the rise. As noted by Bloomberg, the country's gross national income per capita has been approaching G7 levels and could overtake that of Italy in 2020 due to the countries' diverging performance during the COVID-19 crisis.
In 2019, South Korea's gross national income stood at $33,790 per capita, up almost 17 percent in five years. Italy was just ahead at $34,530, but with a sinking tendency. According to data by the World Bank, many European nations were failing to grow gross national income per capita even before the coronavirus crisis, the exceptions being Germany and Spain.
While GNI is distinct from GDP, solid GDP growth normally also causes national incomes to grow. South Korea just reported its latest figures Tuesday and while the country lost 1.4 percent of GDP in Q4 of 2020 compared with the same quarter last year, Korea's coronavirus-induced GDP loss continues to be one of the lowest in the OECD.
Other than GDP, GNI takes into account money earned by South Koreans abroad while deducting money earned by foreign entities in South Korea.