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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal 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. 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
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
48.324 million (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
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:
0.85% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
14.55 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
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:
7.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.88 years
female: 78.95 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.2 years
Total fertility rate:
1.72 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
3,800 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
180 (1999 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%
male: 99.3%
female: 96.7% (1995 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)
25 February 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 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:
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:
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 [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:
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, 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:
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:
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:
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 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.
purchasing power parity - $931 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.8% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $19,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 42%
services: 54% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 3%
highest 10%: 25% (1998 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
32 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
22 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
services 69%, industry 22%, agriculture 10% (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:
273.2 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 61%
hydro: 1%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 38%
Electricity - consumption:
254.08 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
$159.2 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports - partners:
US 20.7%, China 12.1%, Japan 11.0%, Hong Kong 6.3%, Taiwan 3.9% (2001)
$146.6 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports - partners:
Japan 18.9%, US 15.9%, China 9.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.7%, Australia 3.9% (2001)
Debt - external:
$128.2 billion (2001)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA $200 million (2000)
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
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:
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: 3,124 km
standard gauge: 3,124 km 1.435-m gauge (661 km electrified) (2000)
total: 87,534 km
paved: 65,388 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,146 km (1999)
1,609 km
note: restricted to small native craft
petroleum products 455 km; note - additionally, there is a parallel petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) pipeline being completed
Ports and harbors:
Chinhae, Inch'on, Kunsan, Masan, Mokp'o, P'ohang, Pusan, Tonghae-hang, Ulsan, Yosu
Merchant marine:
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.)
102 (2001)
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 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 14,194,960 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 8,990,488 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 394,397 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$12.8 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.8% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Korea, South
Disputes - international:
Demarcation Line with North Korea; Liancourt Rocks/Take-shima/Tok-do disputed with Japan

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003