The government's stimulus package has focused on construction
South Korea has narrowly avoided entering recession after its economy grew by 0.1% between January and March compared with the last quarter of 2008.
The growth, which followed a 5.1% fall between October and December, came as the government started spending a $37bn (£25bn) economic stimulus plan.
The central bank has also moved to lift the economy through a series of interest rate cuts since October.
However, first quarter economic output was still 4.3% lower than a year ago.
Construction spending - the key beneficiary of the government's stimulus action - rose at its fastest quarterly rate in 16 years between January and March. Domestic consumption also rose, while exports fell.
The South Korean economy was last in recession in 1998. A country is generally considered to be in recession following two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.
"The economy is in much better shape than feared earlier, and we may see a faster recovery than expected," said Kim Jae-eun, economist at Hana Daetoo Securities.