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The World Factbook Korea, South (CIA)
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Korea, South

Introduction Korea, South

Background: An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century - from three predecessor Korean states - until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. 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 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. 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 Jong Il.

Geography Korea, South
Location: 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: Asia
Area: 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

Coastline: 2,413 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain: 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: 16.58%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land: 8,780 sq km (2003)
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, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location on Korea Strait
People Korea, South
Population: 48,846,823 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.9% (male 4,844,083/female 4,368,139)
15-64 years: 71.9% (male 17,886,148/female 17,250,862)
65 years and over: 9.2% (male 1,818,677/female 2,678,914) (2006 est.)
Median age: total: 35.2 years
male: 34.2 years
female: 36.3 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.42% (2006 est.)
Birth rate: 10 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate: 5.85 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.11 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.68 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 6.16 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.54 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.75 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.04 years
male: 73.61 years
female: 80.75 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.27 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 26%, Buddhist 26%, Confucianist 1%, no affiliation 46%, other 1%
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6% (2002)
Government Korea, South
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
local short form: Han'guk
abbreviation: ROK
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Seoul
geographic coordinates: 37 34 N, 127 00 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 7 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural)
provinces: Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto (North Cholla), Cholla-namdo (South Cholla), Ch'ungch'ong-bukto (North Ch'ungch'ong), Ch'ungch'ong-namdo (South Ch'ungch'ong), Kangwon-do, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto (North Kyongsang), Kyongsang-namdo (South Kyongsang)
metropolitan cities: Inch'on-gwangyoksi (Inch'on), Kwangju-gwangyoksi (Kwangju), Pusan-gwangyoksi (Pusan), Soul-t'ukpyolsi (Seoul), Taegu-gwangyoksi (Taegu), Taejon-gwangyoksi (Taejon), Ulsan-gwangyoksi (Ulsan)
Independence: 15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Constitution: 29 October 1987
Legal system: combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
Suffrage: 19 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President ROH Moo-hyun (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister HAN Duck-soo (since March 2007); Deputy Prime Ministers KIM Woo-sik (since 10 February 2006); KWON O-kyu (since 18 July 2006); KIM Shin-il (since 20 September 2006)
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 on 19 December 2007); prime minister appointed by president with consent of National Assembly; deputy prime ministers appointed by president on prime minister's recommendation
election results: ROH Moo-hyun elected president; percent of vote - ROH Moo-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; LEE Hoi-chang (GNP) 46.6%; other 4.5%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe (299 seats - members elected for four-year terms; 243 in single-seat constituencies, 56 by proportional representation)
elections: last held 15 April 2004 (next to be held in April 2008; byelections held to fill vacant seats)
election results: percent of vote by party - Uri 51%, GNP 41%, DLP 3%, DP 3%, others 2%; seats by party - Uri 141, GNP 127, DP 12, DLP 9, PFP 5, independents 5
note: percent of vote is for 2004 general election; seats by party reflect results of 2005 and 2006 byelections; MDP became DP in May 2005; United Liberal Democrats (ULD) merged with GNP in February 2006
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices appointed by president with consent of National Assembly); Constitutional Court (justices appointed by president based partly on nominations by National Assembly and Chief Justice of the court)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Labor Party or DLP [MOON Seong-hyun]; Democratic Party or DP [HAHN Hwa-kap]; Grand National Party or GNP [KANG Jae-sup]; People-First Party or PFP [SHIN Kook-hwan and SIM Dae-pyung]; Uri Party [Chung Sye-kyun]
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: AfDB, APEC, APT, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, LAIA, MIGA, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, ONUB, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador LEE Tae-sik
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Alexander VERSHBOW
embassy: 32 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710
mailing address: US Embassy Seoul, 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: Since the 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Four decades ago, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies. Today its GDP per capita is equal to the lesser economies of the EU. This success 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. GDP plunged by 6.9% in 1998, then recovered by 9.5% in 1999 and 8.5% 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 7%, despite anemic global growth. Between 2003 and 2006, growth moderated to about 4-5%. A downturn in consumer spending was offset by rapid export growth. Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income characterize this solid economy.


GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.18 trillion (2006 est.)


GDP (official exchange rate): $897.4 billion (2006 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 4.8% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP): $24,200 (2006 est.)

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3%
industry: 45%
services: 52% (2006 est.)
Labor force: 23.77 million (31 December 2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 6.4%
industry: 26.4%
services: 67.2% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.3% (December 2006 est.)
Population below poverty line: 15% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 25% (2005 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 35.8 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.2% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 28.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
Budget: revenues: $200 billion
expenditures: $201 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (2006 est.)
Public debt: 31.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Agriculture - products: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Industries: electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate: 8% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production: 345.2 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 0.8%
nuclear: 36.6%
other: 0.2% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 321 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production: 7,378 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - consumption: 2.149 million bbl/day (2004)
Oil - exports: 645,200 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 2.263 million bbl/day (2004)
Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 27.84 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 28.93 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance: $2 billion (2006 est.)
Exports: $326 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)

Exports - commodities: semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports - partners: China 21.8%, US 14.6%, Japan 8.5%, Hong Kong 5.5% (2005)

Imports: $309.3 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners: Japan 18.5%, China 14.8%, US 11.8%, Saudi Arabia 6.2% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $239 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external: $249.4 billion (30 September 2006 est.)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $744 million (2005)
Currency (code): South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code: KRW
Exchange rates: South Korean won per US dollar - 955.3 (2006), 1,024.1 (2005), 1,145.3 (2004), 1,191.6 (2003), 1,251.1 (2002)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Korea, South
Telephones - main lines in use: 23.745 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 38.342 million (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: country code - 82; fiber-optic submarine cables - 1 Korea-Russia-Japan, 1 Korea-Japan-Hong Kong, 3 Korea-Japan-China, 1 Korea-Japan-China-Europe, 1 Korea-Japan-China-US-Taiwan, 1 Korea-Japan-China, 1 Korea-Japan-Hong Kong-Taiwan, 1 Korea-Japan; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (1 Pacific Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean) and 3 Inmarsat (1 Pacific Ocean and 2 Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 61, FM 150, shortwave 2 (2005)
Radios: 47.5 million (2000)
Television broadcast stations: 43 (plus 59 cable operators and 190 relay cable operators) (2005)
Televisions: 15.9 million (1997)
Internet country code: .kr
Internet hosts: 5.434 million (2005)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 11 (2000)
Internet users: 33.9 million (2005)
Transportation Korea, South
Airports: 107 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 69
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 21
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 20 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 38
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 35 (2006)
Heliports: 540 (2006)
Pipelines: gas 1,482 km; refined products 827 km (2006)
Railways: total: 3,472 km
standard gauge: 3,472 km 1.435-m gauge (1,361 km electrified) (2005)
Roadways: total: 100,279 km
paved: 87,032 km (including 3,060 km of expressways)
unpaved: 13,247 km (2004)
Waterways: 1,608 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2006)
Merchant marine: total: 669 ships (1000 GRT or over) 8,634,188 GRT/13,733,624 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 157, cargo 193, chemical tanker 98, container 81, liquefied gas 22, passenger 5, passenger/cargo 24, petroleum tanker 57, refrigerated cargo 17, roll on/roll off 6, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 6
foreign-owned: 22 (France 12, Japan 1, UK 2, US 7)
registered in other countries: 365 (Belize 4, Cambodia 23, China 2, Cyprus 1, Georgia 1, Honduras 6, Hong Kong 6, Indonesia 1, Liberia 3, Malaysia 1, Malta 6, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 291, Singapore 17, unknown 2) (2006)
Ports and terminals: Inch'on, Masan, P'ohang, Pusan, Ulsan
Military Korea, South
Military branches: Army, Navy, Republic of Korea Air Force (Han-guk Kong Goon), Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (coast guard) (2006)
Military service age and obligation: 20-30 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 24-28 months, depending on the military branch involved; 18 years of age for voluntary military service; some 4,000 women serve as commissioned and noncommissioned officers, approx. 2.3% of all officers; women, in service since 1950, are admitted to seven service branches, including infantry, but excluded from artillery, armor, anti-air, and chaplaincy corps (2005)
Manpower available for military service: males age 20-49: 12,483,677
females age 20-49: 12,014,462 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 20-49: 10,115,817
females age 20-49: 9,721,914 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 344,943
females age 20-49: 312,720 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $21.06 billion FY05 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Korea, South
Disputes - international: Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic incidents with North Korea in the Yellow Sea over the Northern Limiting Line, which South Korea claims as a maritime boundary; South Korea and Japan claim Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima), occupied by South Korea since 1954


This page was last updated on 15 March, 2007

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