[Country map of Korea, South]

Korea, South


Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, south of North Korea

Map references: Asia

total area: 98,480 sq km
land area: 98,190 sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Indiana

Land boundaries: total 238 km, North Korea 238 km

Coastline: 2,413 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea: 12 nm; 3 nm in the Korea Strait

International disputes: Demarcation Line with North Korea; Liancourt Rocks claimed by Japan

Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter

Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south

Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 21%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 1%
forest and woodland: 67%
other: 10%

Irrigated land: 13,530 sq km (1989)

current issues: air pollution in large cities; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; driftnet fishing
natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; earthquakes in southwest
international agreements: party to - Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea


Population: 45,553,882 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (female 5,280,998; male 5,640,789)
15-64 years: 71% (female 15,877,182; male 16,291,183)
65 years and over: 5% (female 1,554,512; male 909,218) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.04% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 15.63 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.18 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 20.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.89 years
male: 67.69 years
female: 74.29 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.66 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean

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

Religions: Christianity 48.6%, Buddhism 47.4%, Confucianism 3%, pervasive folk religion (shamanism), Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way) 0.2%

Languages: Korean, English widely taught in high school

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 96%
male: 99%
female: 94%

Labor force: 20 million
by occupation: services and other 52%, mining and manufacturing 27%, agriculture, fishing, forestry 21% (1991)


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 "Hanguk" to refer to their country

Abbreviation: ROK

Digraph: KS

Type: republic

Capital: Seoul

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 6 special cities* (jikhalsi, singular and plural); Cheju-do, Cholla-bukto, Cholla-namdo, Ch'ungch'ong-bukto, Ch'ungch'ong-namdo, Inch'on-jikhalsi*, Kangwon-do, Kwangju-jikhalsi*, Kyonggi-do, Kyongsang-bukto, Kyongsang-namdo, Pusan-jikhalsi*, Soul-t'ukpyolsi*, Taegu-jikhalsi*, Taejon-jikhalsi*

Independence: 15 August 1948

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 August (1948)

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 Yong-sam (since 25 February 1993); election last held on 18 December 1992 (next to be held NA December 1997); results - KIM Yong-sam (DLP) 41.9%, KIM Tae-chung (DP) 33.8%, CHONG Chu-yong (UPP) 16.3%, other 8%
head of government: Prime Minister YI Hong-ku (since 17 December 1994); Deputy Prime Minister HONG Chae-yong (since 4 October 1994) and Deputy Prime Minister KIM Tok (since 23 December 1994)
cabinet: State Council; appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Kukhoe): elections last held on 24 March 1992; results - DLP 38.5%, DP 29.2%, Unification National Party (UNP) 17.3% (name later changed to UPP), other 15%; seats - (299 total) DLP 149, DP 97, UNP 31, other 22; the distribution of seats as of January 1994 was DLP 172, DP 96, UPP 11, other 20
note: the change in the distribution of seats reflects the fluidity of the current situation where party members are constantly switching from one party to another

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders:
majority party: Democratic Liberal Party (DLP), KIM Yong-sam, president
opposition: Democratic Party (DP), YI Ki-taek, executive chairman; United People's Party (UPP), KIM Tong-kil, chairman; several smaller parties
note: the DLP resulted from a merger of the Democratic Justice Party (DJP), Reunification Democratic Party (RDP), and New Democratic Republican Party (NDRP) on 9 February 1990

Other political or pressure groups: Korean National Council of Churches; National Democratic Alliance of Korea; National Federation of Student Associations; National Federation of Farmers' Associations; National Council of Labor Unions; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Veterans' Association; Federation of Korean Industries; Korean Traders Association


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador PAK Kun-u
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador James T. LANEY
embassy: 82 Sejong-Ro, Chongro-ku, Seoul
mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 15550, Seoul; APO AP 96205-0001
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 738-8845
consulate(s): Pusan

Flag: 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


Overview: The driving force behind the economy's dynamic growth has been the planned development of an export-oriented economy in a vigorously entrepreneurial society. Real GDP increased more than 10% annually between 1986 and 1991. This growth ultimately led to an overheated situation characterized by a tight labor market, strong inflationary pressures, and a rapidly rising current account deficit. As a result, in 1992, economic policy focused on slowing the growth rate of inflation and reducing the deficit. Annual growth slowed to 5%, still above the rate in most other countries of the world, and recovered to 6.3% in 1993. The economy expanded by 8.3% in 1994, driven by booming exports.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $508.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 8.3% (1994)

National product per capita: $11,270 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.6% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 2% (November 1994)

revenues: $63 billion
expenditures: $63 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1995 est.)

Exports: $96.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994)
commodities: electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, steel, automobiles, ships, textiles, clothing, footwear, fish
partners: US 26%, Japan 17%, EU 14%

Imports: $102.3 billion (c.i.f., 1994)
commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
partners: Japan 26%, US 24%, EU 15%

External debt: $44.1 billion (1993)

Industrial production: growth rate 12.1% (1994 est.); accounts for about 45% of GNP

capacity: 26,940,000 kW
production: 137 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 2,847 kWh (1993)

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

Agriculture: accounts for 8% of GDP and employs 21% of work force (including fishing and forestry); principal crops - rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; livestock and livestock products - cattle, hogs, chickens, milk, eggs; self-sufficient in food, except for wheat; fish catch of 2.9 million metric tons, seventh-largest in world

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $3.9 billion; non-US countries (1970-89), $3 billion

Currency: 1 South Korean won (W) = 100 chun (theoretical)

Exchange rates: South Korean won (W) per US$1 - 790.48 (January 1995), 803.44 (1994), 802.67 (1993), 780.65 (1992), 733.35 (1991), 707.76 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 6,763 km
standard gauge: 6,716 km 1.435-meter gauge (525 km electrified; 847 km double track)
narrow gauge: 47 km 0.610-meter gauge

total: 63,200 km
paved: expressways 1,550 km
unpaved: NA
undifferentiated: national highway 12,190 km; provincial, local roads 49,460 km (1991)

Inland waterways: 1,609 km; use restricted to small native craft

Pipelines: petroleum products 455 km

Ports: Chinhae, Inch'on, Kunsan, Masan, Mokp'o, Pohang, Pusan, Ulsan, Yosu

Merchant marine:
total: 412 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,129,796 GRT/9,985,197 DWT
ships by type: bulk 123, cargo 125, chemical tanker 17, combination bulk 1, combination ore/oil 1, container 61, liquefied gas tanker 13, multifunction large-load carrier 1, oil tanker 51, refrigerated cargo 9, short-sea passenger 1, vehicle carrier 9

total: 114
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 14
with paved runways under 914 m: 63
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 4


Telephone system: 13.3 million telephones; excellent domestic and international services
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 3 INTELSAT (2 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 79, FM 46, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 256 (1 kW or greater 57)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (Coast Guard)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 13,580,832; males fit for military service 8,701,742; males reach military age (18) annually 405,290 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $14 billion, 3.3% of GNP (1995 est.)