SOUTH Korea's 'East Asian Miracle' has not stopped casting its magic spell yet. The nation's policy-makers predict per capita incomes will top the US$10,000 mark for the first time this year. Furthermore, they expect salaries to double again over the next six years, by which time South Korea's economy is projected to exceed those of Canada, Brazil and Spain. By 2010, South Korea will have raced past Britain as well, according to Finance and Economy Minister Hong Jae-hyong. Per capita income projections are $20,570 by 2001 and $30,230 by 2006. South Korea's economic target is to reach the level of the wealthiest Group of Seven (G7) countries. The country is already scheduled to join the rich nations' club, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), next year. 'In the short span of about three decades, Korea has emerged from a period of widespread poverty, under-development and devastation, largely due to the Korean War, to become one of the most successful developing countries in the world,' the finance and economic ministry said. As recently as 1960, per capita income stood at a mere $82. At that time, magazines and commentators could only admire the economies of Thailand and the Philippines - such was the dark backdrop from which the 30-year 'Miracle of the Han River' emerged. In 1953, gross national product (GNP) was a mere $1.4 billion. Since then, GNP has risen 6,323 times to $376.9 billion last year. Gross domestic product (GDP) has jumped 292 times to $379.5 billion from $1.3 billion in 1953. In the past 25 years, annual economic growth has averaged 8.1 per cent, while the manufacturing sector has grown at an average rate of 12.8 per cent. Exports have leapt 4,305 times to $96 billion last year from $22.3 million in 1948. The number of export items rose from 272 in 1963 to 7,648 in 1994, while the number of countries buying Korean goods increased from 38 to 216. Such diversification is underlined by exports to the United States and Japan, the top two markets. In 1955, they bought 81 per cent of Korean exports. By last year, dependence on the two major markets was drastically down to 35.5 per cent. While foreign assets were up 167 times from 1967 to $75.6 billion last year, external debt was 216 times higher at $34 billion. South Korea's total foreign debt stood at $57.1 billion last year, 689 times the $83 million in 1960. Net foreign debt amounted to $10.7 billion. Car production shot up 1,284 times to 2.3 million units last year from just 1,700 in 1962, while crude steel output surged 240 times to 33.7 million metric tonnes. Non-edible raw materials were the No 1 export item this year but, last year, machinery and transport equipment were on top. Meanwhile, monthly incomes of urban wage-earning households was up to just over $2,000 last year - 201 times higher than just over $10 in 1965. Allowing for inflation over the period, that represents an 11-fold rise in real income. At the same time, four-member family monthly expenditure increased nine times from 1966 to about $1,500 last year. Per capita bank deposits, negligible in 1952, were up to nearly $4,000 last year. If spending on food is a reflection of living standards, Koreans are far better off. In 1965, food accounted for 63.4 per cent of spending. Last year, food spending was down to 29.7 per cent. Spending on education is also well up, from 3.3 per cent of the government budget in 1953 to 21.5 per cent last year. Urban households spent 9.3 per cent of their income on education last year (mostly for private tutoring) compared with 5.6 per cent in 1963. With the recent relaxation on travel restrictions, far more Koreans are also now travelling abroad. As recently as 1970, only 23 out of 10,000 ventured overseas every year, mostly on government or business trips. Today, overseas travel is increasingly popular, with more than three million flying out of the country last year, 42.9 times more than in 1970. Finally, the ultimate indication of national development, life expectancy, is now up to 71.6 years - compared with just 52.4 years in 1960.