South Korea Population: 50,924,172

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 History
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 US 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), US 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 the first civilian president of South Korea's new democratic era. President KIM Dae-jung (1998-2003) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his contributions to South Korean democracy and his "Sunshine" policy of engagement with North Korea. President PARK Geun-hye, daughter of former ROK President PARK Chung-hee, took office in February 2013 as South Korea's first female leader. In December 2016, the National Assembly passed an impeachment motion against President PARK over her alleged involvement in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal, immediately suspending her presidential authorities and establishing Prime Minister HWANG Kyo-ahn as Acting President. The Constitutional Court is currently adjudicating the impeachment case. South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Discord with North Korea has permeated inter-Korean relations for much of the past decade, highlighted by the North's attacks on a South Korean ship and island in 2010, the exchange of artillery fire across the DMZ, and multiple nuclear and missile tests in 2016.

 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 km

Size comparison: slightly smaller than Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Indiana
Land Boundaries: total: 237 km border countries (1): North Korea 237 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; cold winters
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes:
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use: agricultural land: 18.1% arable land 15.3%; permanent crops 2.2%; permanent pasture 0.6% forest: 63.9%
other: 18% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land: 7,780 sq km (2012)
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
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups: homogeneous
Languages: Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
Religions: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24.0%, Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3% (2010 est.)
Population: 50,924,172 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 13.45% (male 3,535,137/female 3,315,510)
15-24 years: 13.08% (male 3,515,779/female 3,146,084)
25-54 years: 45.93% (male 12,008,399/female 11,379,261)
55-64 years: 14.01% (male 3,521,569/female 3,611,481)
65 years and over: 13.53% (male 2,918,156/female 3,972,796) (2016 est.)
Dependency ratios: total dependency ratio: 37.2%
youth dependency ratio: 19.2%
elderly dependency ratio: 18%
potential support ratio: 5.6% (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 41.2 years
male: 39.7 years
female: 42.8 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.53% (2016 est.)
Birth rate: 8.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate: 5.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Urbanization: urban population: 82.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.66% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas - population: SEOUL (capital) 9.774 million; Busan (Pusan) 3.216 million; Incheon (Inch'on) 2.685 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.244 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.564 million; Gwangju (Kwangju) 1.536 million (2015)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Mother's mean age at first birth: 31 (2014 est.)
Maternal mortality rate: 11 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3 deaths/1,000 live births male: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 82.4 years male: 79.3 years
female: 85.8 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.25 children born/woman (2016 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate: 80% note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2009)
Health expenditures: 7.4% of GDP (2014)
Physicians density: 2.14 physicians/1,000 population (2012)
Hospital bed density: 10.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Drinking water source: improved:
urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 87.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population

unimproved:
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 12.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access: improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population

unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Obesity - adult prevalence rate: 6.3% (2014)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 0.6% (2011)
Education expenditures: 4.6% of GDP (2012)
Literacy:
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 17 years male: 17 years
female: 16 years (2013)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24: total: 10% male: 11.2%
female: 9.2% (2014 est.)
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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
etymology: derived from the Chinese name for Goryeo, which was the Korean dynasty that united the peninsula in the 10th century A.D.; the South Korean name "Han'guk" means "land of the Han," where "han" may have its origins in the native root for "great [leader]" (similar to the title "khan")
Government type: presidential republic
Capital: name: Seoul; note - Sejong, located some 120 km (75 mi) south of Seoul, is being developed as a new capital
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 (gwangyeoksi, singular and plural), 1 special city (teugbyeolsi), and 1 special self-governing city (teukbyeoljachisi) provinces: Chungbuk (North Chungcheong), Chungnam (South Chungcheong), Gangwon, Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang), Gyeonggi, Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang), Jeju, Jeonbuk (North Jeolla), Jeonnam (South Jeolla) metropolitan cities: Busan (Pusan), Daegu (Taegu), Daejeon (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: effective 17 July 1948; amended several times, last in 1987 (2016)
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: Acting President HWANG Kyo-ahn (since 9 December 2016); note - President PARK Geun-hye (since 25 February 2013) was impeached by the National Assembly on 9 December 2016 and awaits the final decision of the Constitutional Court

head of government: Prime Minister HWANG Kyo-ahn (since 18 June 2015); Deputy Prime Ministers YOO Il-ho (since 13 January 2016), LEE Joon-sik (since 13 January 2016)

cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a single 5-year term; election last held on 19 December 2012 (next to be held in December 2017); prime minister appointed by president with consent of National Assembly

election results: PARK Geun-Hye elected president; percent of vote - PARK Geun-Hye (NFP) 51.6%, MOON Jae-In (DUP) 48%, other 0.4%
Legislative branch: description: unicameral National Assembly or Kuk Hoe (300 seats; 246 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 54 directly elected in a single national constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 13 April 2016 (next to be held in 2020)

election results: percent of vote by party - Saenuri 33.5%, PP 26.7%, MPK 25.5%, Justice Party 7.2%, other 7.1%; seats by party - MPK 123, Saenuri 122, PP 38, Justice Party 6, independent 11 note: seats by party as of December 2016 - DP 121, Saenuri 99, PP 38, New Conservative Party for Reform 30, Justice Party 6, independent 6; the tentatively named New Conservative Party for reform, which will be launched 24 January 2017
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Supreme Court of South Korea (consists of a chief justice and 13 justices); Constitutional Court (consists of a court head and 8 justices) judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly; other justices appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the chief justice and consent of the National Assembly; position of the chief justice is a 6-year non-renewable term; other justices serve 6-year renewable terms; Constitutional Court justices appointed - 3 by the president, 3 by the National Assembly, and 3 by the Supreme Court chief justice; court head serves until retirement at age 70, while other justices serve 6-year renewable terms with mandatory retirement at age 65

subordinate courts: High Courts; District Courts; Branch Courts (organized under the District Courts); specialized courts for family and administrative issues
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party or DP [CHOO Mi-ae] (renamed from Minjoo Party of Korea or MPK in October 2016; formerly New Politics Alliance for Democracy or NPAD, which was a merger of the Democratic Party or DP (formerly DUP) [KIM Han-gil] and the New Political Vision Party or NPVP [AHN Cheol-soo] in March 2014) Justice Party [SIM Sang-jeong] New Conservative Party for Reform [Joo Ho-young] (tentatively named new party to be launched 24 January 2017) New Frontier Party (NFP) or Saenuri (formerly Grand National Party) [In Myung-jin, interim leader] People's Party or PP [KIM Dong-cheol, interim leader]
Political pressure groups and leaders: Catholic Priests' Association for Justice Christian Council of Korea 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 in Korea People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
International organization participation: ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council (observer), ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CICA, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
National symbol(s): taegeuk (yin yang symbol), Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon); national colors: red, white, blue, black
National anthem: name: "Aegukga" (Patriotic Song)
lyrics/music: YUN Ch'i-Ho or AN Ch'ang-Ho/AHN Eaktay

note: adopted 1948, well-known by 1910; both North Korea's and South Korea's anthems share the same name and have a vaguely similar melody but have different lyrics
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador AHN Ho-young (since 7 June 2013)
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
FAX: [1] (202) 797-0595
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Anchorage (AK), Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mark William LIPPERT (since 21 November 2014)
embassy: 188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710
mailing address: US Embassy Seoul, Unit
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 725-0152
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 Economy
South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible economic 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. A system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, initially 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 7% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. South 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. South Korea's export focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, but quickly rebounded in subsequent years, reaching over 6% growth in 2010. The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments in 2011 and went into effect in March 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, the economy experienced slow growth – 2%-3% per year - due to sluggish domestic consumption and investment. The administration in 2015 faced the challenge 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, dominance of large conglomerates (chaebols), and the heavy reliance on exports, which comprise about half of GDP. In an effort to address the long term challenges and sustain economic growth, the current government has prioritized structural reforms, deregulation, promotion of entrepreneurship and creative industries, and the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises.
GDP (purchasing power parity): GDP (purchasing power parity): $1.929 trillion (2016 est.) $1.878 trillion (2015 est.) $1.83 trillion (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): GDP (official exchange rate): $1.404 trillion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.7% (2016 est.) 2.6% (2015 est.) 3.3% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): GDP - per capita (PPP): $37,900 (2016 est.) $37,100 (2015 est.) $36,300 (2014 est.)

note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving: 36.1% of GDP (2016 est.) 36.2% of GDP (2015 est.) 35.3% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use: household consumption: 49%
government consumption: 15.4%
investment in fixed capital: 29.3%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 43.2%
imports of goods and services: -37% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin: household consumption: 49%
government consumption: 15.4%
investment in fixed capital: 29.3%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 43.2%
imports of goods and services: -37% (2016 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: 1.8% (2016 est.)
Labor force: 27.25 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 5.7%
industry: 24.2%
services: 70.2% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate: 4% (2016 est.) 3.6% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line: 14.6% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 6.8%
highest 10%: 37.8% (Q4 2014)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 30.2 (2014 est.) 35.8 (2000)
Budget: revenues: $304.3 billion
expenditures: $321.4 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues: 21.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt: 46.1% of GDP (2016 est.) 44.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices): Inflation rate (consumer prices): 0.8% (2016 est.) 0.7% (2015 est.)
Current account balance: $101.6 billion (2016 est.) $105.9 billion (2015 est.)
Exports: $509 billion (2016 est.) $548.8 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commodities: semiconductors, petrochemicals, automobile/auto parts, ships, wireless communication equipment, flat display displays, steel, electronics, plastics, computers
Exports - partners: China 26%, US 13.3%, Hong Kong 5.8%, Vietnam 5.3%, Japan 4.9% (2015)
Imports: $405.1 billion (2016 est.) $428.5 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commodities: crude oil/petroleum products, semiconductors, natural gas, coal, steel, computers, wireless communication equipment, automobiles, fine chemical, textiles
Imports - partners: China 20.7%, Japan 10.5%, US 10.1%, Germany 4.8%, Saudi Arabia 4.5% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $372.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $367.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external: $385.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $381.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $179.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $174.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $318 billion (31 December 2016 est.) $286.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $1.231 trillion (31 December 2015 est.) $1.213 trillion (31 December 2014 est.) $1.235 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
Exchange rates: South Korean won (KRW) per US dollar - 1,167.6 (2016 est.) 1,130.95 (2015 est.) 1,130.95 (2014 est.) 1,052.96 (2013 est.) 1,126.47 (2012 est.)
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 Energy
Electricity - production: 513 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 495 billion kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity: 100 million kW (2014 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels: 69.6% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels: 26.8% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants: 1.7% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources: 1.9% of total installed capacity (2013 est.)
Crude oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - exports: 6,510 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - imports: 2.815 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Crude oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl
Refined petroleum products - production: 3.01 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption: 2.407 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports: 1.3 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports: 865,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Natural gas - production: 322 million cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 47.4 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 49.08 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 7.079 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy: 651 million Mt (2013 est.)
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 Communications
Cellular Phones in use: total: 58.935 million subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 120 (July 2015 est.)
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 the latter subscribership up to about 120 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 (2015)
Broadcast media: multiple national TV networks with 2 of the 3 largest networks publicly operated; the largest privately owned network, Seoul Broadcasting Service (SBS), has ties with other commercial TV networks; cable and satellite TV subscription services available; pu (2010)
Internet country code: .kr
Internet users: total: 44.153 million percent of population: 89.9% (July 2015 est.)
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 Transportation
Airports: 111 (2013)
Airports (paved runways): total 71
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 19
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 23 (2013)
Airports (unpaved runways): total 40

914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 38 (2013)
Heliports: 466 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 2,216 km; oil 16 km; refined products 889 km (2013)
Railways: total 3,460 km
standard gauge: 3,460 km 1.435-m gauge (1,422 km electrified) (2014)
Roadways: total 104,983 km
paved: 83,199 km (includes 3,779 km of expressways)
unpaved: 21,784 km (2009)
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: major seaport(s): Busan, Incheon, Gunsan, Kwangyang, Mokpo, Pohang, Ulsan, Yeosu container port(s) (TEUs): Busan (16,163,842), Kwangyang (2,061,958), Incheon (1,924,644) LNG terminal(s) (import): Incheon, Kwangyang, Pyeongtaek, Samcheok, Tongyeong, Yeosu
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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; minimum 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 (2012)
Military expenditures: 2.8% of GDP (2012) 2.77% of GDP (2011) 2.8% of GDP (2010)
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 Transnational Issues
Disputes - International: Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km-wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic incidents with North Korea in the Yellow Sea over the Northern Limit Line, which South Korea claims as a maritime boundary; South Korea and Japan claim Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima), occupied by South Korea since 1954
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
stateless persons: 197 (2015)
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