The ROK has often been compared to its powerful neighbor, Japan, but is said to be about 10 years behind that nation in scientific and technological innovation. However, in areas such as semiconductor memory chips, cars, and steel, Korean industries provide innovation equal to that in the United States and Japan. In 1998, high technology exports were valued at $30.5 billion and accounted for 27% of all manufactured exports.
Two organizations provide most of the main support for Korean science and technology. The Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) was started in 1965 with the help of the United States. The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the leading university in scientific research, attracts researchers from all over the world, and is considered one of the top universities in the world for electrical and molecular engineering and computer science. In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 32% of college and university enrollments.