Careers, Jobs and Education Resources for: Korea, South

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An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century - from three predecessor Korean states - until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a 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 (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President KIM Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Jong Il. In October 2007, a second North-South summit took place between the South's President ROH Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader. (from the CIA)


Economic Overview

Since the 1960s, south korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. four decades ago, 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. today its gdp per capita is roughly the same as that of greece and spain. this success was achieved by a system of close government/business ties including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. 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, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. gdp plunged by 6.9% in 1998, then recovered by 9.5% in 1999 and 8.5% in 2000. growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 7%, despite anemic global growth. between 2003 and 2007, growth moderated to about 4-5% annually. a downturn in consumer spending was offset by rapid export growth. moderate inflation, low unemployment, and an export surplus in 2007 characterize this solid economy, but inflation and unemployment are increasing in the face of rising oil prices.

Environmental Issues

Air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing

Government Type



48,379,392 (july 2008 est.)


Eastern asia, southern half of the korean peninsula bordering the sea of japan and the yellow sea


Total: 98,480 sq km land: 98,190 sq km water: 290 sq km

Slightly larger than indiana

Country Aliases

Conventional long form: republic of korea conventional short form: south korea local long form: taehan-min'guk local short form: han'guk abbreviation: rok


Name: seoul geographic coordinates: 37 33 n, 126 59 e time difference: utc+9 (14 hours ahead of washington, dc during standard time)

Military Service

20-30 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 24-28 months, depending on the military branch involved (to be reduced to 18 months beginning 2016); 18 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; some 4,000 women serve as commissioned and noncommissioned officers, approx. 2.3% of all officers (2007)

International Disputes

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 limiting 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

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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