Asia: South Korea

About South Korea

After World War II, a republic was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a communist-style government was installed in the north. The Korean War (1950-53) had US and other UN forces intervene to defend South Korea from North Korean attacks supported by the Chinese. An armistice was signed in 1953 splitting the peninsula at the 38th parallel known as the DMZ. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income rising to 13 times the level of North Korea. In 1997, the nation suffered a severe financial crisis from which it continues to make a solid recovery. South Korea has also maintained its commitment to democratize its political processes. In June 2000, a historic first south-north summit took place between the south's President KIM Dae-jung and the north's leader KIM Chong-il. In December 2000, President KIM Dae-jung won the Noble Peace Prize for his lifeling committment to democracy and human rights in Asia. He is the first Korean to win a Nobel Prize.

Vital Statistics
Capitol City: Seoul
Population: 47,904,370 (July 2001 est.)
Percent below poverty: NA%
Language: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Date of independence: 15 August 1945 (from Japan)
Form of government: republic
Title of Leader: President
Natural Resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Environmental Issues: air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Agricultural Products: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Imports: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Exports: electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Trading Partners: IMPORTS: US 20.8%, Japan 20.2%, China 7.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.7%, Australia 3.9% (1999)
EXPORTS: US 20.5%, Japan 11%, China 9.5%, Hong Kong 6.3%, Taiwan 4.4% (1999)


South Korea Headlines


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