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Korea (South Korea) - Hanguk
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South Korea

Country Profile

Capital City: Seoul The Municipality of Seoul (pop. 11 million).

Other Cities: Daejeon (Taejon, pop. 1.3 million)
Taejon Metropolitan City Government.
Incheon (Inchon, pop. 2.4 million)
Incheon Metropolitan City.
Gwangju (Kwangju, pop. 1.4 million)
Kwangju Metropolitan Government.
Pusan (Busan, pop. 3.9 million)
Busan Metropolitan City.
Daegu (Taegu, pop. 2.5 million)
Taegu Metropolitan City Government.

Local Time: UTC +9h

Location: Korea is a peninsula country in Northeast Asia bordering China and Russia to the north, and Japan to the southeast. The Korean peninsula is surrounded by Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and East Sea (Sea of Japan).
Area: 99 392 sq km (38 375 sq. mi.)
(entire Korean Peninsula including North Korea: 222 154 sq km) (85 774 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys; cultivated plains along the coasts, particularly in the west and south.
Border countries: North Korea

Climate: Temperate, monsoon, four distinct seasons, and heavier rainfall in the summer.

Type: Republic with powers shared between the president and the legislature.
Liberation: 15 August 1945 from Japanese rule.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Korean(s).
Population 47,925,000 (estimate as of July 2003)
Population growth rate: 0.6%.
Ethnic groups: Korean; small Chinese minority.
Religions: Protestantism 39%, Catholicism 13%, Buddhism 46%, Confucianism 1%, Cheondogyo (the Religion of Heavenly Way) and others 1%
Language: Korean, spoken by 70 million people and 5 million overseas Koreans.
Writing system: Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, was invented by King Sejong the Great in 1443, consisting of 10 vowels and 14 consonants.
Literacy rate: 97.75% (2000 estimate), male: 99.1%, female: 96.4%


Currency: Won (KRW)

Natural resources: Limited coal, tungsten, iron ore, limestone, kaolinite, and graphite.

Agriculture products: Rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish.

Industries: Electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel.

Exports partners:
China 18.2%, USA 17.8%, Japan 9%, Hong Kong 7.6% (2003)

Imports partners: Japan 20.3%, USA 13.9%, China 12.3%, Saudi Arabia 5.2% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of South Korea

Chong Wa Dae (Blue House)

The National Assembly of the Republic of Korea Korean Government Homepage


Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of The Republic of Korea to the UN

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

Korean Overseas Missions

Diplomatic Missions in Korea

Korea National Statistical Office - KNSO

Map of the Korean Peninsula and vicinity

Map of the Korean Peninsula

Map of East Asia

Map of Asia


Korea, South

Background:  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 far
outstripping the level of North Korea. In 1997, the nation suffered
a severe financial crisis from which it continues to make a solid
recovery. South Korea has also maintained its commitment to democratize
its political processes. In June 2000, a historic first south-north
summit took place between the south's President KIM Dae-jung and the
north's leader KIM Chong-il. In December 2000, President KIM Dae-jung
won the Noble Peace Prize for his lifelong commitment to democracy and
human rights in Asia. He is the first Korean to win a Nobel Prize.

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:  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

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: 17% permanent crops: 2% other: 81% (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

Population:  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:   78.95 years (2002 est.)  male: 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.)

Nationality:  noun: Korean(s) adjective: Korean

Ethnic groups:  homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)

Religions:  Christian 49%, Buddhist 47%, Confucianist 3%, Shamanist,
Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and 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: 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:  republic

Capital:  Seoul

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*

Independence:  15 August 1945 (from Japan)

National holiday:  Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)

Constitution:  25 February 1988

Legal system:  combines elements of continental European civil law
systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought

Suffrage:  20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President KIM Dae-jung (since 25
February 1998) head of government: Prime Minister YI Han-tong (since 23
May 2000) 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 18 December 1997 (next
to be held 19 December 2002); prime minister appointed by the president;
deputy prime ministers appointed by the president on the prime minister's
recommendation election results: KIM Dae-jung elected president; percent
of vote - KIM Dae-jung (MDP) 40.3% (with ULD partnership), YI Hoe-chang
(GNP) 38.7%, YI In-che (NPP) 19.2%

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:  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: 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,
IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC,
IOM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD,

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. Three decades ago
GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries
of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is seven times India's,
17 times North Korea's, and comparable 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 certain 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 plus 10% in 1999 and 9% 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.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $865 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  3.3% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $18,000 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 5% industry: 44% services: 51%
(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):  4.3% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  22 million (2001)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 69%, industry 21.5%, agriculture
9.5% (2001)

Unemployment rate:  3.9% (2001)

Budget:  revenues: $118.1 billion expenditures: $95.7 billion, including
capital expenditures of $22.6 billion (2000)

Industries:  electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding,
steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing

Industrial production growth rate:  1.8% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  273.204 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 60.63% hydro: 1.45%
other: 0.03% (2000) nuclear: 37.89%

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

Exports:  $168.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  electronic products, machinery and equipment,
motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish

Exports - partners:  US 21.8%, Japan 11.9%, China 10.7%, Hong Kong 6.2%,
Taiwan 4.7% (2000)

Imports:  $152.3 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  machinery, electronics and electronic equipment,
oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains

Imports - partners:  Japan 19.8%, US 18.2%, China 8%, Saudi Arabia 6%,
Australia 3.7% (2000)

Debt - external:  $120.5 billion (2001)

Economic aid - recipient:  $NA

Currency:  South Korean won (KRW)

Currency code:  KRW

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)

Radios:  47.5 million (2000)

Television broadcast stations:  121 (plus 850 repeater stations and the
eight-channel American Forces Korea Network) (1999)

Televisions:  15.9 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .kr

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  11 (2000)

Internet users:  22.23 million (2001)

Transportation Korea, South

Railways:  total: 3,124 km standard gauge: 3,124 km 1.435-m gauge (661
km electrified) (2000)

Highways:  total: 87,534 km paved: 65,388 km (including 1,996 km of
expressways) unpaved: 22,146 km (1999)

Waterways:  1,609 km note: restricted to small native craft

Pipelines:  petroleum products 455 km

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.)

Airports:  102 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 68 over 3,047 m: 2 2,438 to 3,047
m: 19 914 to 1,523 m: 11 under 914 m: 20 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 16

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 34 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m:
32 (2001)

Heliports:  203 (2001)

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 (Takeshima/Tokdo) disputed with Japan

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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