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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Korea, South
Flag of Korea, South
Map of Korea, South
Introduction Korea, South
Following its victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan occupied Korea; five years later it formally annexed the entire peninsula. 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 18 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:
territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
continental shelf: not specified
contiguous zone: 24 nm
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: 17.18%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 80.87% (2001)
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, 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
48,598,175 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.4% (male 5,223,344; female 4,681,594)
15-64 years: 71.4% (male 17,625,302; female 17,072,029)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 1,597,085; female 2,398,821) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 33.7 years
male: 32.8 years
female: 34.7 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.62% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
12.33 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
6.13 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.09 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.67 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.64 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.58 years
male: 71.96 years
female: 79.54 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.56 children born/woman (2004 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:
200 (2003 est.)
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups:
homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
no affiliation 46%, Christian 26%, Buddhist 26%, Confucianist 1%, other 1%
Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
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
abbreviation: ROK
note: the South Koreans generally use the term "Han'guk" to refer to their country
local short form: none
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 7 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural)
: provinces: Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto, Cholla-namdo, Ch'ungch'ong-bukto, Ch'ungch'ong-namdo, Kangwon-do, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto, Kyongsang-namdo
: metropolitan cities: Inch'on-gwangyoksi, Kwangju-gwangyoksi, 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 ROH Moo-hyun (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister LEE Hae-chan (since 25 May 2004); Deputy Prime Ministers LEE Hun-jai (since 10 February 2004), AHN Byung-young (since 23 December 2003), and OH Myung (since 18 October 2004)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a single five-year term; election last held 19 December 2002 (next to be held in 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 Moo-hyun elected president; percent of vote - ROH Moo-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; YI Hoe-ch'ang (GNP) 46.6%; other 4.5%
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe (299 seats -- members elected for four-year terms; 243 in single-seat constituencies, 56 by proportional representation
election results: percent of vote by party - Uri 51%, GNP 41%, DLP 3%, MDP 3%, others 2%; seats by party - Uri 152, GNP 121, DLP 10, MDP 9, others 7 (2004)
elections: last held 15 April 2004 (next to be held in April 2008)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Labor Party or DLP [KIM Hye-kyung, chairman]; Grand National Party or GNP [PARK Geun-hye, chairman]; Millennium Democratic Party or MDP [HAHN Hwa-kap, chairman]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [KIM Hak-won, chairman]; Uri Party [LEE Bu-young, 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-joo
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle
consulate(s): New York, Tamuning (Guam)
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Christopher R. HILL
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:
Since the early 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. 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 National Assembly approved legislation reducing the six-day work week to five days.
purchasing power parity - $857.8 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.1% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $17,800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 36.4%
services: 60% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
29.6% of GDP (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 22.5% (1999 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
31.6 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.6% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
22.92 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 8.8%, industry 19.1%, services 72.1% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
3.4% (2004 est.)
revenues: $135.5 billion
expenditures: $128.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $23.5 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt:
13.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate:
5.1% (2004 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.)
Current account balance:
$12.32 billion (2004 est.)
$201.3 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports - partners:
China 18.2%, US 17.8%, Japan 9%, Hong Kong 7.6% (2003)
$175.6 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners:
Japan 20.3%, US 13.9%, China 12.3%, Saudi Arabia 5.2% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$155.4 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$130.3 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA $200 million
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
South Korean won per US dollar - 1,191.61 (2003), 1,251.09 (2002), 1,290.99 (2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Korea, South
Telephones - main lines in use:
22.877 million (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
33,591,800 (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: excellent domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: country code - 82; 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 hosts:
694,206 (2001)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
11 (2000)
Internet users:
29.22 million (2003)
Transportation Korea, South
total: 3,125 km
standard gauge: 3,125 km 1.435-m gauge (661 km electrified) (2003)
total: 86,990 km
paved: 64,808 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,182 km (1999 est.)
1,608 km
note: most navigable only by small craft (2004)
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: 535 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 5,978,949 GRT/9,761,699 DWT
registered in other countries: 442 (2003 est.)
foreign-owned: Bahrain 1, China 1, Gibraltar 1, Honduras 1, Indonesia 1, Japan 3, Malaysia 1, Panama 1, Philippines 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1, United Kingdom 1, United States 1
by type: bulk 97, cargo 174, chemical tanker 61, combination bulk 10, container 60, liquefied gas 19, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 73, refrigerated cargo 20, roll on/roll off 7, short-sea/passenger 2, specialized tanker 6, vehicle carrier 3
102 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 69
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 21 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 30 (2003 est.)
206 (2003 est.)
Military Korea, South
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (24-28 months mandatory service required, depending on the military baranch involved) (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 14,233,895 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 8,966,241 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 341,697 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$14.522 billion (FY03)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2.7% (FY03)
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 maritime disputes with North Korea; intensified media coverage and protests highlight dispute over Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima) in rich fishing grounds also claimed by Japan

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004