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 Background
An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Tokyo formally annexed the entire Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan’s surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a democratic-based government (Republic of Korea, ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), U.S. troops and UN forces fought alongside ROK soldiers to defend South Korea from a DPRK invasion supported by China and the Soviet Union. A 1953 armistice split the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. PARK Chung-hee took over leadership of the country in a 1961 coup. During his regime, from 1961 to 1979, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income rising to roughly 17 times the level of North Korea. South Korea held its first free presidential election under a revised democratic constitution in 1987, with former ROK Army general ROH Tae-woo winning a close race. In 1993, KIM Young-sam (1993-98) became South Korea’s first civilian president. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. LEE Myung-bak (2008-2013) pursued a policy of global engagement , highlighted by Seoul’s hosting of the G-20 summit in November 2010 and the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012. South Korea also secured a non-permanent seat (2013-14) on the UN Security Council and will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. President PARK Geun-hye took office in February 2013 and is South Korea’s first female leader. Serious tensions with North Korea have punctuated inter-Korean relations in recent years, including the North’s sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and its artillery attack on South Korean soldiers and citizens in November 2010.
 Geography
Strategic location on Korea Strait
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
Area: total: 99,720 sq km land: 96,920 sq km water: 2,800 sq kmSize comparison: slightly larger than Indiana
Land Boundaries: total: 238 km border countries: North Korea 238 km
Coastline: 2,413 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: not specified
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: 16.58% permanent crops: 2.01% other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land: 8,320 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest volcanism: Halla (elev. 1,950 m) is considered historically active although it has not erupted in many centuries
Current Environment Issues: air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
International Environment 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
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 People
Population: 48,955,203 (July 2013 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 14.6% (male 3,717,701/female 3,424,490) 15-24 years: 13.6% (male 3,525,050/female 3,117,198) 25-54 years: 47.8% (male 11,925,181/female 11,491,841) 55-64 years: 11.7% (male 2,842,996/female 2,907,730) 65 years and over: 12.3% (male 2,469,093/female 3,533,923) (2013 est.) population pyramid:
Median age: total: 39 years male: 37.6 years female: 40.4 years (2012 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.204% (2012 est.)
Birth rate: 8.42 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate: 6.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.09 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.08 deaths/1,000 live births male: 4.29 deaths/1,000 live births female: 3.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.3 years male: 76.12 years female: 82.7 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.24 children born/woman (2013 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 9,500 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: Korean(s) adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3% (2010 survey)
Languages: Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 97.9% male: 99.2% female: 96.6% (2002)
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 Government
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Korea conventional short form: South Korea local long form: Taehan-min’guk local short form: Han’guk abbreviation: ROK
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Seoul geographic coordinates: 37 33 N, 126 59 E time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural), 1 special city, and 1 special self-governing city provinces: Chungbuk (North Chungcheong), Chungnam (South Chungcheong), Gangwon, Gyeonggi, Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang), Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang), Jeju, Jeonbuk (North Jeolla), Jeonnam (South Jeolla) metropolitan cities: Busan (Pusan), Daegu (Taegu), Daejon (Taejon), Gwangju (Kwangju), Incheon (Inch’on), Ulsan special city: Seoul special self-governing city: Sejong
Independence: 15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Constitution: 17 July 1948; note – amended or rewritten many times; current constitution approved 29 October 1987
Legal system: mixed legal system combining European civil law, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
Suffrage: 19 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President PARK Geun-hye (since 25 February 2013) head of government: Prime Minister CHUNG Hong-won (since 26 February 2013) cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister’s recommendation (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a single five-year term; PARK Geun-hye elected on 19 December 2012; next election to be held in December 2017; prime minister appointed by president with consent of National Assembly election results: PARK Geun-Hye elected president on 19 December 2012; percent of vote – PARK Geun-Hye (NFP) 51.6%, MOON Jae-In (DUP) 48%, others 0.4%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Gukhoe (300 seats; 246 members elected in single-seat constituencies, 54 elected by proportional representation; members serve four-year terms) elections: last held on 11 April 2012 (next to be held in April 2016) election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NFP 152, DUP 127, UPP 13, LFP 5, independents 3
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (justices appointed by the president with consent of National Assembly); Constitutional Court (justices appointed by the president based partly on nominations by National Assembly and Chief Justice of the court)
Political parties and leaders: Democratic United Party or DUP (formerly the Democratic Party or DP) [MOON Hee-sang (interim)]; Liberty Forward Party or LFP (now part of the NFP); New Frontier Party (NFP) or Saenuri (formerly Grand National Party) [HWANG Woo-yea]; Progressive Justice Party or PJP [ROH Hoe-chan and CHO Joon-ho]; United Progressive Party or UPP [LEE Jung-hee]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice; Citizen’s Coalition for Economic Justice; Federation of Korean Industries; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; Korean Veterans’ Association; Lawyers for a Democratic Society; National Council of Churches; People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
International organization participation: ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CICA, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNISFA, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador CHOI Young-jin chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600 FAX: [1] (202) 797-0595 consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle consulate(s) general: Anchorage
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Sung Y. KIM embassy: 188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710 mailing address: US Embassy Seoul, Unit 15550, APO AP 96205-5550 telephone: [82] (2) 397-4200 FAX: [82] (2) 725-0152
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 Economy
South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and is currently the world’s 12th largest economy. Initially, a system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, made this success possible. 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 longstanding weaknesses in South Korea’s development model including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing. GDP plunged by 6.9% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. Korea adopted numerous economic reforms following the crisis, including greater openness to foreign investment and imports. Growth moderated to about 4% annually between 2003 and 2007. Korea’s export focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, but quickly rebounded in subsequent years, reaching 6.3% growth in 2010. The US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments in 2011 and went into effect in March 2012. Throughout 2012 the economy experienced sluggish growth because of market slowdowns in the United States, China, and the Eurozone. The incoming administration in 2013, following the December 2012 presidential election, is likely to face the challenges of balancing heavy reliance on exports with developing domestic-oriented sectors, such as services. The South Korean economy’s long term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, and heavy reliance on exports – which comprise half of GDP.
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.611 trillion (2012 est.) $1.579 trillion (2011 est.) $1.524 trillion (2010 est.) note: data are in 2012 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $1.151 trillion (2012 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 2% (2012 est.) 3.6% (2011 est.) 6.3% (2010 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): GDP – per capita (PPP): $32,400 (2012 est.) $31,700 (2011 est.) $30,800 (2010 est.) note: data are in 2012 US dollars
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 2.7% industry: 39.8% services: 57.5% (2012 est.)
Labor force: 25.5 million (2012 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 6.2% industry: 23.8% services: 70% (2012 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.2% (2012 est.) 3.4% (2011 est.)
Population below poverty line: 16.5% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 6.4% highest 10%: 37.7% (2011)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 41.9 (2011) 35.8 (2000)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.2% (2012 est.) 4% (2011 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): Investment (gross fixed): 25.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
Budget: revenues: $250.6 billion expenditures: $243.9 billion (2012 est.)
Public debt: 33.7% of GDP (2012 est.) 33.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
Agriculture – products: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Industries: electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate: 1.7% (2012 est.)
Electricity – production: 459.5 billion kWh (2011 est.) country comparison to the world: 12
Electricity – consumption: 455.1 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Electricity – exports: 0 kWh (2011)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2011)
Natural gas – production: 539.3 million cu m (2010 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 45.9 billion cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 46.83 billion cu m (2011 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 5.748 billion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)
Current account balance: $3.14 billion (2012 est.) $26.51 billion (2011 est.)
Exports: $552.6 billion (2012 est.) $552.8 billion (2011 est.)
Exports – commodities: semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports – partners: China 24.4%, US 10.1%, Japan 7.1% (2011 est.)
Imports: $514.2 billion (2012 est.) $521.6 billion (2011 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports – partners: China 16.5%, Japan 13%, US 8.5%, Saudi Arabia 7.1%, Australia 5% (2011 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $326.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.) $306.4 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Debt – external: $413.4 billion (31 December 2012 est.) $449.6 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $203.5 billion (31 December 2012 est.) $131.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $327.5 billion (31 December 2012) $190.4 billion (31 December 2011)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $1.024 trillion (31 December 2012) $994.3 billion (31 December 2011) $1.089 trillion (31 December 2010)
Exchange rates: South Korean won (KRW) per US dollar – 1,126.8 (2012 est.) 1,108.29 (2011 est.) 1,156.1 (2010 est.) 1,276.93 (2009) 1,101.7 (2008)
Fiscal year: calendar year
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 Communications
Telephones in use: 29.468 million (2011) country comparison to the world: 11
Cellular Phones in use: 52.507 million (2011)
Telephone system: general assessment: excellent domestic and international services featuring rapid incorporation of new technologies domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services widely available with a combined telephone subscribership of roughly 170 per 100 persons; rapid assimilation of a full range of telecommunications technologies leading to a boom in e-commerce international: country code – 82; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations – 66 (2011)
Radio broadcast stations:
Television broadcast stations:
Internet country code: .kr
Internet hosts: 315,697 (2012)
Internet users: 39.4 million (2009)
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 Transportation
Airports: 114 (2012) country comparison to the world: 50
Airports (paved runways): total: 71 over 3,047 m: 4 2,438 to 3,047 m: 20 1,524 to 2,437 m: 12 914 to 1,523 m: 13 under 914 m: 22 (2012)
Airports (unpaved runways): total: 43 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m: 41 (2012)
Heliports: 510 (2012)
Pipelines: gas 2,139 km; refined products 864 km (2010)
Railways: total: 3,381 km standard gauge: 3,381 km 1.435-m gauge (1,843 km electrified) (2008)
Roadways: total: 103,029 km paved: 80,642 km (includes 3,367 km of expressways) unpaved: 22,387 km (2008)
Waterways: 1,600 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2011)
Merchant marine: total: 786 by type: bulk carrier 191, cargo 235, carrier 8, chemical tanker 130, container 72, liquefied gas 44, passenger 5, passenger/cargo 15, petroleum tanker 55, refrigerated cargo 15, roll on/roll off 10, vehicle carrier 6 foreign-owned: 31 (China 6, France 2, Japan 14, Taiwan 1, US 8) registered in other countries: 457 (Bahamas 1, Cambodia 10, Ghana 1, Honduras 6, Hong Kong 3, Indonesia 2, Kiribati 1, Liberia 2, Malta 2, Marshall Islands 41, North Korea 1, Panama 373, Philippines 1, Russia 1, Singapore 3, Tuvalu 1, unknown 8) (2010)
Ports and terminals: Incheon (Inch’on), Pohang (P’ohang), Busan (Pusan), Ulsan, Yeosu (Yosu)
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 Military
Military branches: Republic of Korea Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 20-30 years of age for compulsory military service, with middle school education required; conscript service obligation – 21 months (Army, Marines), 23 months (Navy), 24 months (Air Force); 18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; women, in service since 1950, admitted to 7 service branches, including infantry, but excluded from artillery, armor, anti-air, and chaplaincy corps; HIV-positive individuals are exempt from military service (2010)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 13,185,794 females age 16-49: 12,423,496 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 10,864,566 females age 16-49: 10,168,709 (2010 est.)

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