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Korea, South Economy
Economy - overview:
Since the early 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. Today its GDP per capita is 18 times North Korea's and equal 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 longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged to a negative 6.6% in 1998, then strongly recovered to 10.8% in 1999 and 9.2% 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 6.2%, despite anemic global growth, followed by moderate 2.8% growth in 2003. In 2003 the National Assembly approved legislation reducing the six-day work week to five days.
GDP:
purchasing power parity - $857.8 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.1% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $17,800 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 36.4%
services: 60% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
29.6% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line:
4% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 22.5% (1999 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
31.6 (1993)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.6% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
22.92 million (2003)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 8.8%, industry 19.1%, services 72.1% (2001)
Unemployment rate:
3.4% (2003 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $135.5 billion
expenditures: $128.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $23.5 billion (2003)
Public debt:
13.8% of GDP (2003)
Industries:
electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate:
5.1% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
290.7 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 0.8%
other: 0.2% (2001)
nuclear: 36.6%
Electricity - consumption:
270.3 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
2.14 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
804,700 bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
2.965 million bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
20.92 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
21.11 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
Current account balance:
$12.32 billion (2003)
Exports:
$201.3 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Exports - partners:
China 20.1%, US 17.9%, Japan 8.4%, Hong Kong 5.2%, Taiwan 4.3% (2003 est.)
Imports:
$175.6 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports - partners:
Japan 20.5%, US 14.2%, China 11.8%, Saudi Arabia 5.1% (2003 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$155.4 billion (2003)
Debt - external:
$130.3 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA $200 million
Currency:
South Korean won (KRW)
Currency code:
KRW
Exchange rates:
South Korean won per US dollar - 1,191.61 (2003), 1,251.09 (2002), 1,290.99 (2001), 1,130.96 (2000), 1,188.82 (1999)
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