General information: After World War II, a republic was formed in the southern part of the Korean peninsula, while a communist dictatorship was established in the north. From 1950 to 1953 American troops and other UN forces were present on the territory of South Korea to protect it from attacks by North Korean troops supported by China; in 1953, an armistice was signed, dividing the peninsula with a demarcation line along the 38th parallel. South Korea has achieved strong economic growth, with a per capita income 13 times that of North Korea. In 1997, the country suffered from a serious economic crisis, from which it continues to successfully emerge. South Korea remains committed to the democratization of political life. In June 2000, the first ever meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea took place: KIM Dae Chung and KIM Jong Il. In December 2000, President Kim Dae-jung received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the democratization and protection of human rights in Asia. He became the first Korean to win the Nobel Prize.
Location: East Asia, the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, the coast of the Japanese and Yellow Seas.
Geographical coordinates: 37° 00′ N. latitude, 127° 30′ E.
Reference map: Asia.
Area: total: 98,480 km2; land surface area: 98,190 km2; water surface area: 290 km2
Comparative area: slightly larger than the state of Indiana.
Land borders: total: 238 km; with neighboring states: with North Korea 238 km.
Coastline: 2,413 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: not defined; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles; from 3 to 12 nautical miles in the Korea Strait.
Climate: temperate; more rain falls in summer than in winter.
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in the west and south.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m; highest point: Hallasan Mountain 1,950 m.
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential.
Land use: arable land: 19%; cultivated land: 2%; pastures: 1%; forests and plantations: 65%; others: 13% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 13,350 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: rare typhoons bringing strong winds and floods; weak seismic activity is a common occurrence in the southwest of the country.
Current environmental issues: air pollution in big cities; acid rain; water pollution by sewage and industrial waste; fishing with drift nets.
International agreements on environmental protection: party to: Antarctica – Environmental Protection Protocol, Conservation of Marine Life in Antarctica, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Change, Hazardous Waste, Law of the Sea, Marine Pollution, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 1983, Tropical Timber 1994, Wetlands, Whaling; signed but not ratified: Kyoto Protocol.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 47,904,370 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 21.59% (male 5,475,453; female 4,864,918); 15 to 64 years old: 71.14% (male 17,291,202; female 16,789,380); over 65: 7.27% (male 1,352,312; female 2,131,105) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.89% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 14.85 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 5.93 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.11 male/female; under 15: 1.13 male/female; from 15 to 64 years old: 1.03 male/female; over 65: 0.63 male/female; for the general population: 1.01 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 7.71 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 74.65 years; men: 70.97 years; women: 78.74 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 1.72 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.01% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 3,800 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 180 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Korean; adjective: Korean.
Ethnic groups: homogenous national composition (with the exception of about 20,000 Chinese).
Believers: Christians 49%, Buddhists 47%, Confucians 3%, shamanistic cultists, followers of Cheondogyo (religion of the heavenly path) and other religions 1%.
Language(s): Korean, English is widely taught in junior high and high schools.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 98%; men: 99.3%; women: 96.7% (1995 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of Korea;
conventional short form: South Korea; local long form: Taehan-min’guk; local short form: no; note: for their country, South Koreans usually use the name “Han Guk” (Han-guk); abbreviation: ROC.
State structure: republic. See politicsezine.com to know more about South Korea Political System.
Administrative division: 9 provinces (do) and 6 cities under the central government* (gwan-gyoksi): Incheon (Jemulpo)*, Gangwon-do, Gwangju*, Gyeonggi-do, Gyeongsangnam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, Busan*, Seoul (Soul-t’ ukpyolsi)*, Daegu*, Daejeon*, Jeju-do, Jeolla-nam-do, Jeolla-buk-do, Chuncheon-nam-do, Chungcheong-buk-do.
Independence: from August 15, 1945, the date of liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
National holiday: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945).
Constitution: adopted on February 25, 1988.
Legal system: combines elements of continental European legal systems, Anglo-American law and Chinese classical ideas.
Suffrage: from 20 years old; universal.
chief of state: President KIM Dae-jung (since February 25, 1998)
head of government: Prime Minister Yl Han-tong (since 23 May 2000)
government: Council of State, appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister; elections: the president is directly elected for a five-year term without the right to re-election; elections last held 18 December 1997 (next to be held no later than 18 December 2002); the prime minister is appointed by the president; the Deputy Prime Minister is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister; election results: Kim Dae-jung elected president; percentage of votes – KIM Dae-jung (NCNP) 40.3% (supported by ULD), LEE Hoe-chang (Yl Hoe-chang) (GNP) 38.7%, LEE In-che (Yl In-che) (NPP) 19, 2%.
Legislature: unicameral National Assembly (Kukhe) (273 seats; 227 elected by direct universal suffrage; term of office – 4 years); elections: last held 13 April 2000 (next to be held April 2004); election results: distribution of votes between parties – no data; distribution of seats – GNP 133, MDP 115, ULD 17, others 8.
Judiciary: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president with the approval of the National Assembly.
Political parties and leaders: Grand National Party (GNP) (LEE Hwe-Chang, chairman); Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) (KIM Dae-jung, chairman); United Liberal Democrats (ULD) (KIM Chong P’il [KIM Chong-p’il], acting president); note: On January 20, 2000, the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) was renamed the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Federation of Korean Industry; Federation of Korean Trade Unions; Korean Trade Union Confederation; Korean National Council of Churches; Association of Korean Merchants; Association of Korean Veterans; National Council of Labor Unions; National Democratic Alliance of Korea; National Federation of Farmers’ Associations; National Federation of Student Associations.
Participation in international organizations: AfDB, APEC, ARF (dialogue partner), AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CP, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, YuM, ISO, ITU, MINURSO, NAM (guest), NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNTAET, UNU, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, ZC.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: Head of Mission: Ambassador YANG Song-chol; office: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 939-5600; fax:  (202) 387-0205; consulates general: Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Chicago; Consulate: Agana (Guam)
US diplomatic mission: head of mission: seat vacant; Embassy: 82 Sejong-Ro, Chongro-ku, Seoul 110-710; mailing address: American Embassy, Unit 15550, APO AR 96205-0001; phone:  (2) 397-4114; fax:  (2) 738-8845.
Flag description: white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang fusion symbol in the center; in each of the corners of the white field are different trigrams from the ancient book I-Ching (“Book of Changes”).