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  Korea, South  
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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Korea, South

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Korea, South
Definition Field Listing
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. The Korean War (1950-53) had US and other UN forces intervene 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
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
Definition Field Listing
2,413 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Definition Field Listing
mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 17.44%
permanent crops: 2.05%
other: 80.51% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
11,590 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location on Korea Strait
   People    Korea, South
Definition Field Listing
48.324 million (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 21.4% (male 5,488,808; female 4,875,379)
15-64 years: 71% (male 17,404,645; female 16,894,361)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 1,434,873; female 2,225,934) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.85% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
14.55 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.11 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
7.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 74.88 years
female: 78.95 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.2 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
3,800 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
180 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Definition Field Listing
Christian 49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist, Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%
Definition Field Listing
Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 98%
male: 99.3%
female: 96.7% (1995 est.)
   Government    Korea, South
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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*
Definition Field Listing
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Definition Field Listing
25 February 1948
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
Definition Field Listing
20 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President ROH Muh-hyun (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister KO Kun (since 27 February 2003); Deputy Prime Minister KIM Chin-p'yo (since 27 February 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 - ROH Muh-hyun elected president, took office 25 February 2003; percent of vote - ROH Muh-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; YI Hoe-chang (GNP) 46.6%; other 4.5%
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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 January 2002 is: GNP 136, MDP 118, ULD 15, DPP 2, independents 2
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court (justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Democratic People's Party or DPP [CHO Sun, chairman]; Grand National Party or GNP [YI Hoe-chang, president]; Millennium Democratic Party or MDP [leader NA]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [KIM Chong-p'il, honorary chairman, KIM Chong-ho, acting president]
note: on 20 January 2000, the National Congress for New Politics or NCNP was renamed the Millennium Democratic Party or MDP
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AfDB, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNTAET, UNU, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador YANG Song-chol
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle
consulate(s): Tamuning (Guam)
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas C. HUBBARD
embassy: 82 Sejong-ro, Chongro-ku, Seoul 110-710
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 15550, APO AP 96205-0001
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 738-8845
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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 roughly 20 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 by 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 have stalled. Led by industry and construction, growth in 2002 was an impressive 5.8%, despited anemic global growth.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $931 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
5.8% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $19,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 4%
industry: 42%
services: 54% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25% (1998 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
32 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
2.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
22 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 69%, industry 22%, agriculture 10% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
3.1% (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $118.1 billion
expenditures: $95.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $22.6 billion (2000)
Definition Field Listing
electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.5% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
273.2 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 61%
hydro: 1%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 38%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
254.08 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Definition Field Listing
$159.2 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 20.7%, China 12.1%, Japan 11.0%, Hong Kong 6.3%, Taiwan 3.9% (2001)
Definition Field Listing
$146.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Japan 18.9%, US 15.9%, China 9.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.7%, Australia 3.9% (2001)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$128.2 billion (2001)
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA $200 million (2000)
Definition Field Listing
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
South Korean won per US dollar - 1,317.01 (January 2002), 1,290.99 (2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999), 1,401.44 (1998), 951.29 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Korea, South
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
24 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
28 million (September 2000)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 104, FM 136, shortwave 5 (2001)
Definition Field Listing
47.5 million (2000)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
121 (plus 850 repeater stations and the eight-channel American Forces Korea Network) (1999)
Definition Field Listing
15.9 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
11 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
25.6 million (2002)
   Transportation    Korea, South
Definition Field Listing
total: 3,124 km
standard gauge: 3,124 km 1.435-m gauge (661 km electrified) (2000)
Definition Field Listing
total: 87,534 km
paved: 65,388 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,146 km (1999)
Definition Field Listing
1,609 km
note: restricted to small native craft
Definition Field Listing
petroleum products 455 km; note - additionally, there is a parallel petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) pipeline being completed
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Chinhae, Inch'on, Kunsan, Masan, Mokp'o, P'ohang, Pusan, Tonghae-hang, Ulsan, Yosu
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 501 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,679,171 GRT/9,172,403 DWT
ships by type: bulk 104, cargo 160, chemical tanker 47, combination bulk 6, container 52, liquefied gas 16, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 73, refrigerated cargo 25, roll on/roll off 5, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 3, vehicle carrier 5, 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, United Kingdom 1 (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
102 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
total: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 31 (2002)
Definition Field Listing
204 (2002)
   Military    Korea, South
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 14,194,960 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 8,990,488 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 394,397 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$12.8 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
2.8% (FY00)
   Transnational Issues    Korea, South
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Demarcation Line with North Korea; Liancourt Rocks/Take-shima/Tok-do disputed with Japan

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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