Country Focus Data: South Korea
April 01, 1998
by Mindy Dake
Located in East Asia, South Korea is in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. South Korea's capital is Seoul.
Demography: Population 45.5 million, 1.02% growth rate; Korean is the official language; Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism are major religions.
Geography: Mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains cover the west and south.
Government: Republic. President is Kim Dae-jung; Prime Minister is Yi Su-song.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (M.A.F.) Economy: South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Over the past 30 years, the gross national product has risen dramatically, elevating South Korea's economy to the world's 11th largest. The growth occurred as a result of high savings and investment rates, an increasingly export-oriented outlook and protected domestic markets. Recent economic difficulties, including currency depreciation, led the government to accept a U.S.$57 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund that will force economic reforms.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$13,000 (1995 estimate), 9.0% real growth rate.
Currency: The won. March 11, 1998 exchange rate: 1,580 won per U.S. dollar.
Exports: U.S.$125.4 billion (f.o.b., 1995) electric equipment, machinery, steel, textiles.
Imports: U.S.$135.1 billion (c.i.f., 1995) machinery, electronics, oil, steel, textiles.
Major agricultural crops/products: Rice, barley, root crops, vegetables, fruit.
Rice: South Korea has seen a gradual decrease in total domestic consumption over the past seven years, falling to 5 million tonnes in 1997-98. Five-year average annual milled production is 5.1 million tonnes, with domestic use averaging 5.2 million. Coarse grains: Coarse grain production in South Korea has decreased yearly since 1988, when total output was 892,000 tonnes. In 1998, total production is estimated at 477,000 tonnes. Total domestic use and imports have increased over the same time frame. Transportation: Railroads, 3,101 km; 61,296 km of highways, with 51,198 km paved; 1,609 km of waterways; major ports are Chinhae, Inchon, Kunsan, Masan, Pohang, Pusan, Ulsan.