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South Korea Contents


General Section

General Section

Economy Data








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Economic Policy




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Tax System

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Important Contacts

General Details

President Mr. Roh Moo-hyun
Capital Seoul
Area total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
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
Irrigated land 13,350 sq km (approx.)
Natural hazards Occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment-international agreements party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification
Population & its structure 46,884,800 (approx.)
Birth rate 15.95 births/1,000 population (approx.)
Death rate 5.68 deaths/1,000 population (approx.)
Net migration rate -0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (approx.)
Sex ratio at birth: 1.13 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (approx.)
Life expectancy at birth total population: 74.3 years
male: 70.75 years
female: 78.32 years (approx.)
Religious Christianity 49%, Buddhism 47%, Confucianism 3%, pervasive folk religion (shamanism), Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way), and other 1%
Legislative Body Unicameral National Assembly or Kukhoe
Official Language 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%
Legal System Combines elements of continental European civil law systems, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
GDP: Purchasing Power Parity -$584.7 billion (approx.)
GDP - real growth rate -6.8% (approx.)
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity-$12,600 (approx.)
GDP - Composition by sector agriculture: 6%
industry: 43%
services: 51% (approx.)
Economy Overview
As one of the Four Dragons of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago its 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, 13 times North Korea's, and already near 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 1997-98 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. By the end of 1998 it had recovered financial stability, rebuilding foreign exchange reserves to record levels by running a current account surplus of $40 billion. As of December 1998, the first tentative signs of a rebound in the economy emerged, and most forecasters expect GDP growth to turn positive at least in the second half of 1999. Seoul has also made a positive start on a program to get the country's largest business groups to swap subsidiaries to promote specialization, and the administration has directed many of the mid-sized conglomerates into debt-workout programs with creditor banks. Challenges for the future include cutting redundant staff, which reaches 20%-30% at most firms and maintaining the impetus for structural reform.
Household income lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 7.5% (approx.)
Industries Electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing
Industrial production growth rate 3.1% (approx.)
Agriculture- products Rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Exports $133 billion (approx.)
Exports-commodities Electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, steel, automobiles, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports-partners US 17%, EU 13%, Japan 12% (approx.)
Imports $94 billion (approx.)
Imports-commodities Machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports-partners US 22%, Japan 21%, EU 13% (approx.)
Telephones 16.6 million
Telephone system Excellent domestic and international services
domestic: NA
international: fiber-optic submarine cable to China; satellite earth stations-3 Intelsat (2 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Pacific Ocean region)
Radio Broadcast stations AM 79, FM 46, shortwave 0
Radios 42 million
Television broadcast station 121 (in addition, there are 850 relay stations and eight-channel American Forces Korea Network)
Televisions 9.3 million
Railways total: 6,240 km
standard gauge: 6,240 km 1.435-m gauge (525 km electrified
Highways total: 63,500 km
paved: 46,800 km (including 1,720 km of expressways)
unpaved: 16,700 km
Waterways 1,609 km; use 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
Tax Structure Tax Structure
International Membership AfDB, APEC, AsDB, 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, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO             

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