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People and Society






An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Tokyo formally annexed the entire Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a democratic-based government (Republic of Korea, ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea under the PARK Chung-hee regime achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 17 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. President LEE Myung-bak has pursued a policy of global engagement since taking office in February 2008, highlighted by Seoul's hosting of the G-20 summit in November 2010 and the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012, as well as the forthcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Serious tensions with North Korea have punctuated inter-Korean relations in recent years, including the North's sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and its artillery attack on South Korean soldiers and citizens in November 2010.


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People And Society

Noun Korean(s)
Adjective Korean

Ethnic groups
Homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)

Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)

Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)

Population World Ranking: 25
48,860,500 (July 2012 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years
15.7% (male 3,980,541/female 3,650,631)
15-64 years
72.9% (male 18,151,023/female 17,400,809)
65 years and over
11.4% (male 2,259,621/female 3,312,032) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 39 years
Male 37.6 years
Female 40.4 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 175
0.204% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 215
8.42 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 154
6.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 92
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Urban population 83% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
0.6% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
SEOUL (capital) 9.778 million; Busan (Pusan) 3.439 million; Incheon (Inch'on) 2.572 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.458 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.497 million (2009)

Sex ratio
At birth 1.07 male(s)/female
Under 15 years 1.09 male(s)/female
15-64 years 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over 0.69 male(s)/female
Total population 1 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 143
16 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 198
Total 4.08 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 4.29 deaths/1,000 live births
3.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 41
Total population 79.3 years
Male 76.12 years
Female 82.7 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 217
1.23 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 90
6.5% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
1.967 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density
12.28 beds/1,000 population (2008)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 134
Less than 0.1% (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids World Ranking: 100
9,500 (2009 est.)

Hiv/aids - deaths World Ranking: 90
Fewer than 500 (2009 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 64
3.2% (2001)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 97
4.2% of GDP (2007)

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 97.9%
Male 99.2%
Female 96.6% (2002)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 17 years
Male 18 years
Female 16 years (2008)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 World Ranking: 104
Total 9.8%
Male 11.9%
Female 8.5% (2009)


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  South Korea (Seoul):

  GPS points from South Korea (Seoul)

Ch'obang-ni Cholla-namdo

Otchom Ch Ungch Ong-namdo

Geumdang Sudo Cholla-namdo

Kalma-ri Cholla-namdo

Seisyu Ch Ungch Ong-bukto

Yongyon-josuji Ch Ungch Ong-namdo

Yon'gi-dong Kyongsang-namdo

Chung-dong Kyonggi-do
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