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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2003
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2003.

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

Map of Korea, South

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   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. 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 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 Rank Order
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 Rank Order
48,289,037 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 20.6% (male 5,256,451; female 4,703,853)
15-64 years: 71.5% (male 17,527,407; female 16,991,229)
65 years and over: 7.9% (male 1,512,157; female 2,297,940) (2003 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 33.2 years
male: 32.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.66% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.6 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.03 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 7.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 7.77 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 75.36 years
male: 71.73 years
female: 79.32 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.56 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
220 (2001 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: 98.1%
male: 99.3%
female: 97% (2003 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
17 July 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 NO Mu-hyun (ROH Moo-hyun) (since 25 February 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister KO Kun (KOH Kun) (since 27 February 2003); Deputy Prime Ministers KIM Chin-p'yo (KIM Jin-pyo) (since 27 February 2003) and YUN Tok-hong (since 6 March 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 - NO Muh-hyun elected president, took office 25 February 2003; percent of vote - NO Muh-hyun (MDP) 48.9%; YI Hoe-ch'ang (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 April 2003 was: GNP 153, MDP 101, ULD 11, DPP 1, PPR 1, independents 5; one seat vacant
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 [leader NA]; Grand National Party or GNP [CH'OE Pyong-ryol, chairman]; Millennium Democratic Party or MDP [CHO Sun-hyong, chairman]; United Liberal Democrats or ULD [KIM Chong-p'il, president]; Uri Party [KIM Kun-t'ae, chairman]
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
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador HAN Sung-chu (HAN Sung-joo)
consulate(s): New York, Tamuning (Guam)
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle
FAX: [1] (202) 387-0205
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Thomas C. HUBBARD
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:
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 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 six-day work week was reduced to five days.
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $941.5 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $19,600 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 41.6%
services: 54% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 24.8% (1998 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
31.6 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.8% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
22 million (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 69%, industry 21.5%, agriculture 9.5% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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 Rank Order
6.5% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
290.7 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 0.8%
other: 0.2% (2001)
nuclear: 36.6%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
270.3 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.14 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
804,700 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.965 million bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
20.92 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing
21.11 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$162.6 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 20.4%, China 14.7%, Japan 9.4%, Hong Kong 6.3% (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$148.4 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 19.6%, US 15.2%, China 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 5% (2002)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$135.2 billion (yearend 2002 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
Definition Field Listing
ODA $200 million
Definition Field Listing
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
South Korean won per US dollar - 1,251.09 (2002), 1,290.99 (2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999), 1,401.44 (1998)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Korea, South
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
24 million (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
121 (plus 850 repeater stations and the eight-channel American Forces Korea Network) (1999)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
11 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
25.6 million (2002)
   Transportation    Korea, South
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 3,125 km
standard gauge: 3,125 km 1.435-m gauge (661 km electrified) (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 86,990 km
paved: 64,808 km (including 1,996 km of expressways)
unpaved: 22,182 km (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
1,609 km
note: restricted to small native craft
Definition Field Listing
gas 1,433 km; refined products 827 km (2003)
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: 541 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 6,490,521 GRT/10,602,751 DWT
note: 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, UK 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 114, cargo 174, chemical tanker 63, combination bulk 9, container 52, liquefied gas 17, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 69, refrigerated cargo 21, roll on/roll off 6, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 6, vehicle carrier 5
Definition Field Listing
102 (2002)
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 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 14,252,851 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 8,994,941 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 345,331 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$13,094.3 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.8% (FY02)
   Transnational Issues    Korea, South
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; Liancourt Rocks (Take-shima/Tok-do) are disputed with Japan

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

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