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South Korea:
Economy

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Economy - overview
Definition
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.
GDP (purchasing power parity)
Definition - World rank and map
$1.201 trillion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
Definition
$957.1 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
Definition - World rank and map
5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita
Definition - World rank and map
$24,800 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
Definition
agriculture: 3%
industry: 39.4%
services: 57.6% (2007 est.)
Labor force
Definition
24.22 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
Definition
agriculture: 7.5%
industry: 17.3%
services: 75.2% (2007)
Unemployment rate
Definition - World rank and map
3.3% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line
Definition
15% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
Definition
lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 25% (2005 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
Definition - World rank and map
35.1 (2006)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
Definition - World rank and map
2.5% (2007)
Investment (gross fixed)
Definition - World rank and map
28.8% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget
Definition
revenues: $248 billion
expenditures: $246.5 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt
Definition - World rank and map
33.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products
Definition
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Industries
Definition
electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate
Definition - World rank and map
7.6% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production
Definition - World rank and map
403.2 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - consumption
Definition - World rank and map
368.6 billion kWh (2007)
Electricity - consumption per capita
Definition - World rank and map
7,486.9 kWh (2007)
Electricity - exports
Definition
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports
Definition
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production
Definition - World rank and map
17,050 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - consumption
Definition - World rank and map
2.13 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil - consumption per 1,000 people
Definition - World rank and map
43.3 bbl/day (2006)
Oil - exports
Definition - World rank and map
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports
Definition - World rank and map
2.41 million bbl/day (2006)
Oil - proved reserves
Definition - World rank and map
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production
Definition - World rank and map
1.66 billion cu m (2006)
Natural gas - consumption
Definition - World rank and map
34.2 billion cu m (2006)
Natural gas - consumption per capita
Definition - World rank and map
695 cu m (2006)
Natural gas - exports
Definition - World rank and map
2,450 cu m (2006)
Natural gas - imports
Definition - World rank and map
35.86 billion cu m (2006)
Natural gas - proved reserves
Definition - World rank and map
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance
Definition - World rank and map
$5.954 billion (2007 est.)
Exports
Definition - World rank and map
$371.5 billion f.o.b. (2007)
Exports - commodities
Definition
semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports - partners
Definition
China 25.7%, US 12.3%, Japan 6.8%, Hong Kong 4.5%, Taiwan 4.1% (2007)
Imports
Definition - World rank and map
$356.8 billion f.o.b. (2007)
Imports - commodities
Definition
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners
Definition
China 16.7%, Japan 16.4%, US 10.5%, Saudi Arabia 6.3% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
Definition - World rank and map
$262.2 billion (31 December 2007)
Debt - external
Definition - World rank and map
$220.1 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
Definition
$120.7 billion (2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
Definition
$82.1 billion (2006)
Market value of publicly traded shares
Definition
$1.051 trillion (2007)
Economic aid - donor
Definition
ODA, $455.3 million (2006)
Economic aid - recipient
Definition
$68.07 million (2004)
Currency (code)
Definition
South Korean won (KRW)
Exchange rates
Definition
South Korean won per US dollar - 929.2 (2007), 954.8 (2006), 1,024.1 (2005), 1,145.3 (2004), 1,191.6 (2003)
Fiscal year
Definition
calendar year


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