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Korea, South    Introduction Top of Page
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 at the 38th parallel known as the DMZ. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income rising to 13 times 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 lifeling committment to democracy and human rights in Asia. He is the first Korean to win a Nobel Prize.
Korea, South    Geography Top of Page
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

continental shelf:  not specified

exclusive economic zone:  200 NM

territorial sea:  12 NM; between 3 NM and 12 NM in the Korea Strait
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:  19%

permanent crops:  2%

permanent pastures:  1%

forests and woodland:  65%

other:  13% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 13,350 sq km (1993 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
Korea, South    People Top of Page
Population: 47,904,370 (July 2001 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  21.59% (male 5,475,453; female 4,864,918)

15-64 years:  71.14% (male 17,291,202; female 16,789,380)

65 years and over:  7.27% (male 1,352,312; female 2,131,105) (2001 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.89% (2001 est.)
Birth rate: 14.85 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Death rate: 5.93 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2001 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:  0.63 male(s)/female

total population:  1.01 male(s)/female (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 7.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population:  74.65 years

male:  70.97 years

female:  78.74 years (2001 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.72 children born/woman (2001 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.)
Korea, South    Government Top of Page
Country name: conventional long form:  Republic of Korea

conventional short form:  South Korea

local long form:  Taehan-min'guk

local short form:  none

note:  the South Koreans generally use the term "Han-guk" to refer to their country

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 by 18 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 (NCNP) 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)

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
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices are appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders: Grand National Party or GNP [YI Hoe-chang, president]; Millennium Democratic Party or MDP [KIM Dae-jung, president]; 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 (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, 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, 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

telephone:  [1] (202) 939-5600

FAX:  [1] (202) 387-0205

consulate(s) general:  Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle

consulate(s):  Hagatna (Guam)
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission:  Ambassador (vacant)

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
Korea, South    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: As one of the Four Dragons 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, 16 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. By 1999 GDP growth had recovered, reversing the substantial decline of 1998. Seoul has pressed the country's largest business groups to restructure and to strengthen their financial base. Growth in 2001 likely will be a more sustainable rate of 5%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $764.6 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 9% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $16,100 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  5.6%

industry:  41.4%

services:  53% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  2.9%

highest 10%:  24.3% (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (2000)
Labor force: 22 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation: services 68%, industry 20%, agriculture 12% (1999)
Unemployment rate: 4.1% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues:  $81.8 billion

expenditures:  $94.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $6.1 billion (1999)
Industries: electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing
Industrial production growth rate: 17% (2000)
Electricity - production: 250.287 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  59.22%

hydro:  1.64%

nuclear:  39.12%

other:  0.02% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 232.767 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Exports: $172.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports - partners: US 20.5%, Japan 11%, China 9.5%, Hong Kong 6.3%, Taiwan 4.4% (1999)
Imports: $160.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports - partners: US 20.8%, Japan 20.2%, China 7.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.7%, Australia 3.9% (1999)
Debt - external: $137 billion (November 2000)
Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code: KRW
Exchange rates: South Korean won per US dollar - 1,271.89 (January 2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999), 1,401.44 (1998), 951.29 (1997), 804.45 (1996)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Korea, South    Communications Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use: 24 million (1999)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 27 million (June 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 106, FM 97, shortwave 6 (1999)
Radios: 47.5 million (1997)
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: 15.3 million (2000)
Korea, South    Transportation Top of Page
Railways: total:  6,240 km

standard gauge:  6,240 km 1.435-m gauge (525 km electrified) (1998 est.)
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; 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:  496 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 5,421,993 GRT/8,757,034 DWT

ships by type:  bulk 105, cargo 168, chemical tanker 38, combination bulk 5, container 49, liquefied gas 16, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 70, refrigerated cargo 27, roll on/roll off 4, short-sea passenger 1, specialized tanker 4, vehicle carrier 5 (2000 est.)
Airports: 102 (2000 est.)
Airports - with paved runways: total:  68

over 3,047 m:  2

2,438 to 3,047 m:  18

1,524 to 2,437 m:  16

914 to 1,523 m:  11

under 914 m:  21 (2000 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total:  34

914 to 1,523 m:  2

under 914 m:  32 (2000 est.)
Heliports: 203 (2000 est.)
Korea, South    Military Top of Page
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  14,148,552 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  8,979,778 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  394,397 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $12 billion (2000)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 3.2% (FY98/99)
Korea, South    Transnational Issues Top of Page
Disputes - international: Demarcation Line with North Korea; Liancourt Rocks (Takeshima/Tokdo) disputed with Japan