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South Korea

Map of South Korea



Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, south of North Korea
Area: slightly larger than Indiana State, U.S.A.
Total area: 98,480 sq km land area: 98,190 sq km
Climate: temperate -four distinct seasons, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter. The Siberia high pressure current brings a cold winter and heavy snow.
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower



Population: 45,553,882 (July 1995 est.)

  • 0-14 years: 24% (female 5,280,998; male 5,640,789)
  • 15-64 years: 71% (female 15,877,182; male 16,291,183)
  • 65 years and over: 5% (female 1,554,512; male 909,218)
  • (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.04% (1995 est.)


  • noun: Korean(s)
  • adjective: Korean

Ethnic divisions: mostly homogeneous


Christianity 48.6%, Buddhism 47.4%, Confucianism 3%, pervasive folk religion (shamanism), Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way) 0.2%

 Languages: Korean, English widely taught in high school

Korean belongs to the Ural-Altaic language family. The structure of Korean language (Hangul) was invented by King Sejong in 1443. It consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants. It is commonly cited as "the most scientific system of writing."


According to the histpry written by a Koryo Dynasty monk in 13th century, Chosun was established by a divine man named Tangun in 2333 B.C. This makes Korea one of the ten oldest nations in the world. After the New Stone Age, there were Three Kingdoms (57 B.C. - 676 A.D.); Koguryo, Paekche and Silla. Silla unified Three Kingdoms and ruled the nation until 936 A.D. when Koryo conquered Unified Silla. After Koryo (918-1392 A.D.) Dynasty, Yi Dynasty named Chosun (1392-1910) was founded. In 1910, Japan occupied Chosun forcefully until the end of WW II. The Korean Peninsular has been divided into two parts since 1945; the South and North. The Republic of Korea (S. Korea) was founded in 1948. The North Koreans invaded the South June 25, 1950 and the war lasted til 1953. The South Korea enjoys a thriving economy while the North Korea remains communism.


  • age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
  • total population: 96% (male:99% female: 94%)




  • conventional long form: Republic of Korea
  • conventional short form: South Korea
  • local long form: Taehan-min'guk
  • local short form: the South Koreans generally use the term "Hanguk" to refer to their country 

Abbreviation: ROK

Capital: Seoul 

Independence: 15 August 1948 

National holiday: Independence Day, 15 August (1948)

note: 15 August 1945, date of independence from the Japanese and celebrated in South Korea as National Liberation Day

Constitution: 25 February 1988


white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field




The driving force behind the economy's dynamic growth has been the planned development of an export-oriented economy in a vigorously entrepreneurial society. Real GDP increased more than 10% annually between 1986 and 1991. This growth ultimately led to an overheated situation characterized by a tight labor market, strong inflationary pressures, and a rapidly rising current account deficit. As a result, in 1992, economic policy focused on slowing the growth rate of inflation and reducing the deficit. Annual growth slowed to 5%, still above the rate in most other countries of the world, and recovered to 6.3% in 1993. The economy expanded by 8.3% in 1994, driven by booming exports.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $508.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 8.3% (1994)

National product per capita: $11,270 (1994 est.) 

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.6% (1994) 

Exports: $96.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994)

  • commodities: electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, steel, automobiles, ships, textiles, clothing, footwear, fish
  • partners: US 26%, Japan 17%, EU 14% 

Imports: $102.3 billion (c.i.f., 1994)

  • commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
  • partners: Japan 26%, US 24%, EU 15%


electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing

Currency: 1 South Korean won (W)

Exchange rates:

South Korean won (W) per US$1 - 790.48 (January 1995), 803.44 (1994), 802.67 (1993), 780.65 (1992), 733.35 (1991), 707.76 (1990)

North Korea
South Korea

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