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Korea, South
Flag of Korea, South
Map of Korea, South
Introduction Korea, South
After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. During the Korean War (1950-1953), US and other UN forces intervened to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the Peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 20 times the level of North Korea. South Korea has maintained its commitment to democratize its political processes. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President KIM Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Chong-il.
Geography Korea, South
Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates:
37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references:
total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries:
total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
2,413 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM; between 3 NM and 12 NM in the Korea Strait
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources:
coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use:
arable land: 17.44%
permanent crops: 2.05%
other: 80.51% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
11,590 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment - current issues:
air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol
Geography - note:
strategic location on Korea Strait
People Korea, South
48,289,037 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.6% (male 5,256,451; female 4,703,853)
15-64 years: 71.5% (male 17,527,407; female 16,991,229)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 1,512,157; female 2,297,940) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.2 years
male: 32.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.66% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
12.6 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
6.03 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 7.77 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.36 years
male: 71.73 years
female: 79.32 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.56 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
4,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
220 (2001 est.)
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups:
homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Christian 49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%
Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98.1%
male: 99.3%
female: 97% (2003 est.)
Government Korea, South
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local short form: none
note: the South Koreans generally use the term "Han'guk" to refer to their country
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
abbreviation: ROK
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 7 metropolitan cities* (gwangyoksi, singular and plural); Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto, Cholla-namdo, Ch'ungch'ong-bukto, Ch'ungch'ong-namdo, Inch'on-gwangyoksi*, Kangwon-do, Kwangju-gwangyoksi*, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto, Kyongsang-namdo, Pusan-gwangyoksi*, Soul-t'ukpyolsi*, Taegu-gwangyoksi*, Taejon-gwangyoksi*, Ulsan-gwangyoksi*
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday:
Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
17 July 1948
Legal system:
combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President NO Mu-hyun (ROH Moo-hyun) (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister KO Kun (KOH Kun) (since 27 February 2003); Deputy Prime Ministers KIM Chin-p'yo (KIM Jin-pyo) (since 27 February 2003) and YUN Tok-hong (since 6 March 2003)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
elections: president elected by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 19 December 2002 (next to be held NA December 2007); prime minister appointed by the president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
election results: results of the 19 December 2002 election - NO Muh-hyun elected president, took office 25 February 2003; percent of vote - NO Muh-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; YI Hoe-ch'ang (GNP) 46.6%; other 4.5%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe (273 seats total - 227 elected by direct, popular vote; members serve four-year terms); note - beginning in 2004, all members will be directly elected; possible redistricting before 2004 may affect the number of seats in the National Assembly
elections: last held 13 April 2000 (next to be held NA April 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - GNP 133, MDP 115, ULD 17, other 8; note - the distribution of seats as of April 2003 was: GNP 153, MDP 101, ULD 11, DPP 1, PPR 1, independents 5; one seat vacant
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic People's Party or DPP [leader NA]; Grand National Party or GNP [CH'OE Pyong-ryol, chairman]; Millennium Democratic Party or MDP [CHO Sun-hyong, chairman]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [KIM Chong-p'il, president]; Uri Party [KIM Kun-t'ae, chairman]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Federation of Korean Industries; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; Korean National Council of Churches; Korean Traders Association; Korean Veterans' Association; National Council of Labor Unions; National Democratic Alliance of Korea; National Federation of Farmers' Associations; National Federation of Student Associations
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador HAN Sung-chu (HAN Sung-joo)
consulate(s): New York, Tamuning (Guam)
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas C. HUBBARD
embassy: 82 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 15550, APO AP 96205-5550
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 738-8845
Flag description:
white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field
Economy Korea, South
Economy - overview:
As one of the Four Tigers of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Three decades ago GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is 18 times North Korea's and equal to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged to a negative 6.6% in 1998, then strongly recovered to 10.8% in 1999 and 9.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 6.2%, despite anemic global growth, followed by moderate 2.8% growth in 2003. In 2003 the six-day work week was reduced to five days.
purchasing power parity - $941.5 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $19,600 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 41.6%
services: 54% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 24.8% (1998 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
31.6 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
22 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 69%, industry 21.5%, agriculture 9.5% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
3.1% (2002 est.)
revenues: $118.1 billion
expenditures: $95.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $22.6 billion (2000)
electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
6.5% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
290.7 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 0.8%
other: 0.2% (2001)
nuclear: 36.6%
Electricity - consumption:
270.3 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
2.14 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
804,700 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
2.965 million bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
20.92 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
21.11 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
$162.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports - partners:
US 20.4%, China 14.7%, Japan 9.4%, Hong Kong 6.3% (2002)
$148.4 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports - partners:
Japan 19.6%, US 15.2%, China 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 5% (2002)
Debt - external:
$135.2 billion (yearend 2002 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA $200 million
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
South Korean won per US dollar - 1,251.09 (2002), 1,290.99 (2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999), 1,401.44 (1998)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Korea, South
Telephones - main lines in use:
24 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
28 million (September 2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: fiber-optic submarine cable to China; the Russia-Korea-Japan submarine cable; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific Ocean region)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 104, FM 136, shortwave 5 (2001)
47.5 million (2000)
Television broadcast stations:
121 (plus 850 repeater stations and the eight-channel American Forces Korea Network) (1999)
15.9 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
11 (2000)
Internet users:
25.6 million (2002)
Transportation Korea, South
total: 3,125 km
standard gauge: 3,125 km 1.435-m gauge (661 km electrified) (2002)
total: 86,990 km
paved: 64,808 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,182 km (1999 est.)
1,609 km
note: restricted to small native craft
gas 1,433 km; refined products 827 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Chinhae, Inch'on, Kunsan, Masan, Mokp'o, P'ohang, Pusan, Tonghae-hang, Ulsan, Yosu
Merchant marine:
total: 541 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,490,521 GRT/10,602,751 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 1, Bulgaria 1, China 1, Greece 1, Japan 1, Malaysia 1, Norway 1, Panama 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, UK 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 114, cargo 174, chemical tanker 63, combination bulk 9, container 52, liquefied gas 17, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 69, refrigerated cargo 21, roll on/roll off 6, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 6, vehicle carrier 5
102 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 69
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 18
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 21 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 31 (2002)
204 (2002)
Military Korea, South
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 14,252,851 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 8,994,941 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 345,331 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$13,094.3 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.8% (FY02)
Transnational Issues Korea, South
Disputes - international:
Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; Liancourt Rocks (Take-shima/Tok-do) are disputed with Japan