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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

South Korea Economy

Korea, South    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: As one of the Four Dragons of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is seven times India's, 16 times North Korea's, and comparable to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s 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 1997-99 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. By 1999 GDP growth had recovered, reversing the substantial decline of 1998. Seoul has pressed the country's largest business groups to restructure and to strengthen their financial base. Growth in 2001 likely will be a more sustainable rate of 5%.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $764.6 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 9% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $16,100 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  5.6%

industry:  41.4%

services:  53% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  2.9%

highest 10%:  24.3% (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (2000)
Labor force: 22 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation: services 68%, industry 20%, agriculture 12% (1999)
Unemployment rate: 4.1% (2000 est.)
Budget: revenues:  $81.8 billion

expenditures:  $94.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $6.1 billion (1999)
Industries: electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing
Industrial production growth rate: 17% (2000)
Electricity - production: 250.287 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  59.22%

hydro:  1.64%

nuclear:  39.12%

other:  0.02% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 232.767 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Exports: $172.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
Exports - partners: US 20.5%, Japan 11%, China 9.5%, Hong Kong 6.3%, Taiwan 4.4% (1999)
Imports: $160.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
Imports - partners: US 20.8%, Japan 20.2%, China 7.4%, Saudi Arabia 4.7%, Australia 3.9% (1999)
Debt - external: $137 billion (November 2000)
Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code: KRW
Exchange rates: South Korean won per US dollar - 1,271.89 (January 2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999), 1,401.44 (1998), 951.29 (1997), 804.45 (1996)
Fiscal year: calendar year


Countryfacts Information Courtesy: CIA Worldbook

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