Budget cuts loom over South Korea’s national cybersecurity studies

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Oct. 24, 2023 8:18PM GMT+9

South Korea’s cybersecurity research institution is bracing for possible deep funding cuts as the country plans to reform its scientific research budget.

According to South Korean lawmaker Ko Min-jung on Tuesday, the National Security Research Institute’s funding for cybersecurity research and development is expected to be 38 billion won ($29 million) next year, a 29% decline from the level proposed for fiscal 2023. This is the lowest proposed budget in the last six years, which had never been less than 50 billion won ($37 million).

The drastic reduction came on the heels of comments from South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a national financial strategy meeting held last June in which he criticized federal research and funding practices and called for their fundamental restructuring. Yoon stressed that the funding system must be reevaluated in light of the effectiveness and productivity of the programs it supports. Accordingly, the Ministry of Science and ICT proposed substantial cuts to the 2024 federal research budget in August that reduced the sum of available funds by a trillion won ($744 billion) compared to last year's total.

Ko mentioned that the drastic budget cuts impacted all five ongoing studies conducted by the security research institution including: intensifying detection and response capacities against cyber threats, fostering cybersecurity workforces, protecting classified information, and acquiring essential security technologies. The lawmaker expressed particular concern over decreased funds for equipment expenditures, specifically since this will impede the purchasing of hardware necessary to research quantum cryptography. According to Ko, the NSR requested 5 billion won ($4 million) to purchase research devices for fiscal 2024. The proposal, however, made 2.7 billion won ($2 million) available, a 65% decrease from the amount made available last year.

Ko criticized the government’s decision, stating that it directly obstructs its stated objective to enhance the nation’s cyber defense capabilities. “President Yoon included the enhancement of national cybersecurity capabilities in one of the 110 presidential tasks,” stated Ko in the press release. “The reduction in the research and development budget could be considered a rollback to such intentions.”


The cover image of this article was designed by Sangseon Kim. This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.