Country Focus: South Korea

by Mindy Dake
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Official name: Republic of Korea.
Capital: Seoul.
Population: 44.2 million, of which 85% is urban. Growth rate 0.9%. About 17% of the labor force works in agriculture.
Language: Korean.
Religion: Buddhism, Christianity, strong Confucian tradition.
Government: Republic. Leaders are President Kim Young Sam, who took office in February 1993, and Hwang In Sung, named by the president as premier.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Land and climate: Land area is 98,190 square km, mostly hills and mountains, with coastal plains in the west and south. About 21% of area is arable land. Climate is temperate, with heavier rainfall in summer.
South Korea is bordered on the north by North Korea. The remaining boundaries consist of 2,413 km of coastline on the Yellow Sea to the west, the Sea of Japan to the east and the Korea Strait.
Economy: Market economy. The industrial sector accounts for about 45% of annual G.D.P. Industrial production centers on textiles, clothing, leather goods, electronics and automobiles. Real G.D.P. has increased by more than 10% annually during the last six years.
G.N.P. per capita: U.S.$6,250 (1991). Agriculture accounts for about 8% of total G.N.P.
Currency: Won.
Major crops: Rice is South Korea's dominant crop. Other major crops are vegetables, fruits and barley.
Rice: South Korea is self-sufficient in rice, with annual production generally totaling around 7 million to 7.5 million tonnes and domestic consumption totaling around 5.5 million. The government purchases the surplus to support rice producers.
Rice plantings make up more than half of all area planted to crops, but are declining gradually amid urbanization, increased cultivation of high-value fruits and vegetables and land abandonment in rural areas.
Wheat and coarse grains: South Korea produces a negligible amount of wheat and coarse grains. Total consumption approaches 12 million tonnes annually, about 95% of which is supplied by imports.
Livestock: South Korea's livestock sector consists of relatively small individual operations. The average swine farm holds about 40 pigs, and more than half of all beef cattle are raised on farms with only one to four animals. Some integration into larger-scale operations is occurring in the swine and poultry industries.
In the last decade, beef, pork and poultry demand has soared, driven by increasing consumer incomes. Per capita consumption of beef, pork and poultry each doubled, and beef consumption in 1993 was expected to increase by 17% from 1992.
South Korea imports only small amounts of pork and poultry, but domestic beef production cannot keep pace with demand growth. About 55% of 1993 beef consumption is expected to be supplied by imports.
Transportation: South Korea has 3,106 km of government-owned railroads, 98% of which are standard gauge. There are 62,936 km of highways, with 13,476 km in the national highway system. The remainder are provincial and local roads.
Major ports include Inchon, on the Yellow Sea, and Pusan, on the country's eastern coast.