Global recognition: Korean statistics shine at international meeting

Statistics Korea Commissioner Lee Hyoung-il / Courtesy of Statistics Korea

I recently attended the OECD Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy (CSSP), where I had the opportunity to engage with chief statisticians from international organizations like Eurostat and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as heads of national statistics offices from OECD member countries including Australia and the United States. Similar to my experience at the 55th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) in February this year, I observed the growing demand for collaboration with Statistics Korea again.

The 21st OECD CSSP covered a broad spectrum of statistical topics, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in national statistics, innovations in survey methods to enhance response rates and methods for measuring social connectedness. At the meeting, Statistics Korea introduced innovative cases of statistical production and services using AI technology, big data and statistical registers. These examples resonated with the heads of national statistical offices worldwide, resulting in numerous requests for collaboration with Statistics Korea.

With global interest in AI surging, Statistics Korea’s use of AI attracted particular attention. We introduced our chatbot service for the Korean Statistical Information System (KOSIS), the AI-based automated statistical classification system that we developed and currently adopted. The hyperscale AI-based statistical chatbot service was also presented and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

Our AI-based automated classification system which improves labor-intensive tasks such as classifying industries, occupations and product 커뮤니티 groups in statistical surveys — including the Population and Housing Census, the Census on Establishments, the Local Area Labour Force Survey and the Online Shopping Survey — was highly recognized as a leading example of applying AI to national statistical production.

Furthermore, the director of the IMF’s statistics department expressed significant interest in Statistics Korea’s AI-related initiatives, suggesting mutual sharing of cases and collaboration. The director-general of Eurostat also requested collaboration, proposing to arrange online meetings as soon as possible and suggesting that Statistics Korea gradually expand statistical engagement with EU member states.

In addition, on the sidelines of the OECD CSSP, Statistics Korea signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Poland, which has been deeply interested in big data-based statistics production. We also agreed to sign an MOU with the Australian Bureau of Statistics this year to explore an array of innovative measures to improve survey response rates. Furthermore, we discussed bilateral cooperative visits with countries like the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic to share the latest statistical methodologies.

The OECD CSSP and the UNSC are the leading statistical consultative bodies within the international community. They play a pivotal role in setting international statistical standards, addressing issues faced by national statistics offices and determining their future directions. The UNSC gathers chief statisticians from over 190 countries worldwide, while the OECD CSSP brings together chief statisticians from 38 OECD member countries. Both serve as “forums of statistical diplomacy.”

As the commissioner of Statistics Korea, I currently serve as a bureau member of these two important statistical bodies. This role led to my participation in a series of confidential bureau meetings held in conjunction with the recent OECD CSSP engagement. Although I cannot disclose the details of these discussions, I can share that we deliberated on how to manage future OECD CSSP and UNSC meetings and the topics for the next meetings.

This experience underscored Korea’s transition from a rule-taker to a rule-maker, reflecting Statistics Korea’s proactive sharing of innovative statistical production techniques with the international community, thereby contributing to the establishment of international statistical standards. It also signifies the international community’s recognition of our dedication and achievements.

Statistics Korea will continue to advance global statistics through various innovations utilizing AI technology and big data, and further strengthen collaboration with the international community to elevate the status of Korean statistics on the global stage.

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