OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Korea
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 98,488 Sq Km (38,026 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 46,584,500
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: South Korea is located on the southern
part of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It is bound by
North Korea to the north, the Yellow Sea to the west as
well as the Korea and Cheju Straits to the south. Around
80% of the Korean Peninsula is covered by mountains while
South Korea has a rugged and mountainous terrain. The dominant
topographical feature is the Taebaek Range, with its lesser
branch, the Sobaek Range. Topographically, the country can
be divided into five regions. (1.) The central region, (2.)
the Eastern Littoral, (3.) the Naktong River Basin, (4.)
the Southern Littoral and (5.) the southern mountain and
valley regions. Only 15% of the land area is covered by
plains, which are mostly located along the coast. The four
largest rivers in South Korea are the Han, Kum, Naktong
and Somjin with all of these rivers subject to flooding.
Major Cities (pop. est.); Seoul 10,612,600, Pusan 3,798,100,
Taegu 2,229,000, Inchon 1,817,900, Kwangju 1,139,000 (1990).
Land Use; forested 66%, pastures 1%, agricultural-cultivated
21%, other 12% (1993).
CLIMATE: South Korea has a continental climate with dry cold
winters and hot humid summers. There is a swift transition from winter
to summer conditions between April to early May with an equal reversal
in late October. Due to the Asian monsoons, the cold winter winds come
from Manchuria and Siberia while in summer the warm moist air comes from
the Pacific Ocean winds. The wettest months are between June and September
with at least one typhoon per year. Average annual precipitation varies
from 1,016 mm (40 inches) to 1,524 mm (60 inches) depending on each region.
Average temperature ranges in Seoul are from -9 to 0 degrees Celsius (16
to 32 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 22 to 31 degrees Celsius (72 to
88 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Koreans who are
believed to be descendants of the Tungusic, relatives of the Mongols,with
an admixture of Chinese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 436 persons per sq km
(1,129 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 74.4% urban, 25.6% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 50.4% male, 49.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 67.4 years male, 75.4 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 27%
under 15, 31% 15 to 29, 21% 30 to 44, 13% 45 to 59, 6% 60 to 74, 2% 75
and over (1988). Birth Rate; 15.6 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 5.8 per
1,000 (1990). Increase Rate; 9.8 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate;
15.0 per 1,000 live births (1993).
RELIGIONS: The principal national religions are Confucianism,
Shamanism, Christianity, Buddhism and Chondokyo.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Korean or Choson Muntcha
which is a member of the Altaic family of languages and spoken by the entire
population. English is the principal secondary language and is taught in
all secondary schools.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
14.3%, primary 46.2%, incomplete secondary 3.8%, secondary 24.8%, higher
10.9% (1985). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 13,191,432
or 92.7% (1981).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Following Japan's surrender during
World War II, the Soviet troops occupied the Korean Peninsula north of
the 38th parallel while the US troops controlled the south. In 1948 the
division of Korea was formalized and the North and South Korea's declared,
however, both factions claimed sovereignty over the entire peninsula and
after the US and Soviet troops were withdrawn, armed clashes escalated.
On June 25, 1950 North Korean troops launched a large scale offensive invading
South Korea and thus beginning the Korean War. On July 27, 1953 a ceasefire
was signed which brought an end to the war. From 1948 to 1960 South Korea
was ruled by an authoritarian and corrupt Pres. Syngman Rhee. In Apr. 1960
the government was ousted in a popular revolt and in May 1961 the newly
formed second republic's government was overthrown by a military coup led
by Gen. Park Chung Lee who established a military Junta. In 1962 the military
rule ended and Park became the civilian President of the third republic.
Pres. Park was reelected in 1967 and 1971. In Oct. 1972 Pres. Park suspended
the constitution and dissolved the National Assembly, following which he
established a new and greater authoritarian constitution which broadened
his presidential powers. During the 1970's there were protests and growing
unrest with demands for greater liberalization. In Dec. 1978 Pres. Park
was reelected and on Oct. 26, 1979 was assassinated by the head of the
secret police. In Dec. 1979 a military coup seized control of the government
and in Aug. 1980 Chun Doo Hwan assumed the presidency while in October
the fifth republic's constitution was inaugurated. In Jan. 1981 Pres. Chun
was reelected to office and in March his Democratic Justice Party (DJP)
won an overall majority in the National Assembly. During the 1980's there
were outbreaks of civil unrest which were quickly suppressed. In 1985 the
New Korea Democratic Party (NKDP) was formed. In Oct. 1987 a referendum
approved the drafting of a new democratic constitution which allowed for
a popularly elected President. In Dec. 1987 Roh Tae Woo was elected President
and in 1990 Pres. Roh reached an agreement to merge the DJP with two of
the three opposition parties, resulting in the formation of the Democrat
Liberal Party. In the first few months of 1991 the government was plagued
by a serious of scandals that resulted in the dismissal of the construction
and environment ministers. In March 1991 it was discovered that the Doosan
Electro-Material Co had discharged some 300 tons of toxic waste since late
1990 into the Naktong River which supplies drinking water to area around
Taegu, the latest of which resulted in hundreds of people becoming violently
ill. On Apr. 26, 1991 a student demonstrator was beaten to death by plainclothes
riot police in Seoul that resulted in massive demonstrations throughout
the country as well as 7 people dying after they set themselves on fire
in antigovernment protest. On May 22, 1991 Pres. Roh replaced his Prime
Minister with Chung Won Shik and declared an amnesty for 350 political
prisoners. On Aug. 8, 1991 the two Koreas were accepted into the UN by
the Security Council. In Oct. 1991 the US announced it would be removing
all nuclear weapons from South Korea in an attempt to get North Korea to
open its facilities to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.
In the same month the last remaining US troops were pulled out of the demilitarized
zone leaving South Korean ground forces to patrol the border and the Premiers
of North and South Korea met in Pyongyang, North Korea, agreed to begin
drafting a nonaggression and reconciliation treaty. On Dec. 13, 1991 the
two governments signed the treaty that officially ended the Korean War
some 38 years after hostilities had subsided and on Dec. 31, 1991 signed
an agreement to banning nuclear weapons on the peninsula. In Jan. 1992
Chung Ju Yung resigned as chairman of the industrial conglomerate, Hyundai
and formed the United People's Party to contest the coming parliamentary
and presidential elections. On Aug. 24, 1992 traditional enemies China
and South Korea established full diplomatic relations that ended nearly
40 years of hostilities between the two nations. On Sept. 27, 1992 Pres.
Roh met with his Chinese counterpart, Pres. Yang Shangkun in Beijing in
the hope of getting China to mediate between the North and South, although
he was unsuccessful. On Oct. 7, 1992 in response to a scandal over vote
buying for the ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP), Pres. Roh appointed
Hyun Soong Jong to replace Chung Won Shik as Prime Minister to limit the
damage it may cause his party and planned December presidential elections.
In Dec. 1992 the new DLP candidate, Kim Young Sam won the presidential
elections. On Feb. 25, 1993 Kim Young Sam was inaugurated as President,
following which he implemented one of the most comprehensive anti-corruption
campaigns the country had seen. On Mar. 8, 1993 Pres. Kim was forced to
dismiss three newly appointed ministers after revelations of past misdeeds.
In April 1993 Pres. Kim dismissed two three-star generals linked to the
1979 coup that brought Chun Doo Hwan to power while in May 1993 Pres. Kim
dismissed the chairman of joint chiefs of staff, Gen. Lee Pil Sup and two
other senior generals for their involvement in the 1979 coup. Om Aug. 12,
1993 Pres. Kim announced that anonymous or false-name financial transactions
would become illegal in an attempt to stifle business conglomerate donations
to ruling party coffers and income tax evasion. On Dec. 9, 1993 Pres. Kim
agreed to foreign rice imports in line with GATT. By the years end, Pres.
Kim's anti-corruption program had resulted in the dismissal of thousands
of political bureaucrats, military leaders and business executives as well
as the release of thousands of political prisoners.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Won (W) divided into 100
Hwan with each Hwan divided into 10 Chun.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $337,910,000,000 (1993).
Public Debt; USD $24,567,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $83,800,100,000 (1993).
Exports; USD $82,235,900,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $3,510,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; USD -$729,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 19,754,000 or 44.8% of total population (1993). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Japan, the EU and the Middle East.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Beans, Coal, Fish, Fruits and Vegetables,
Gold, Iron Ore, Lignite, Maize, Millet, Potatoes, Rice, Sorghum, Sugar,
Timber, Tobacco, Tungsten, Wheat.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Chemicals, Engineering, Iron
and Steel, Machinery, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Chemicals, Food Stuffs, Machinery and Equipment, Metals
and Ores, Non-Ferrous Metals, Non-Metallic Minerals, Textile Fabrics.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 6,437 km (4,000 mi) (1989),
passenger-km 25,104,000,000 (15,599,000,000 passenger-mi) (1989), cargo
ton-km 13,536,000,000 (9,271,000,000 short ton-mi) (1989). Roads; length
55,778 km (34,659 mi) (1988). Vehicles; cars 1,558,700 (1989), trucks and
buses 1,092,300 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 2,110 (1990), deadweight
tonnage 12,461,986 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 18,168,000,000 (11,289,000,000
passenger-mi) (1989), cargo ton-km 2,413,260,000 (1,652,842,000 short ton-mi)
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 63 with a total circulation
for 20 of 9,736,000 (1993). Radio; receivers 42,570,000 (1994). Television;
receivers 10,430,000 (1994). Telephones; units 16,632,600 (1993).
MILITARY: 633,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 82.1%
army, 9.5% navy and 8.4% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 3.6% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
© 1993-2011, Latimer Clarke Corporation Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved
Use of these site materials or portion thereof is restricted
Atlapedia is a trademark and in worldwide use
See our Legal Notice for Copyright and Linking conditions of use
Best viewed at 1024x768 or higher