Flag of South Korea.svgSouth Korea, officially called Republic of Korea, is located in East Asia. Seas surround it from three sides, that is, the Sea of Japan/East Sea from the South and the East, and the Yellow Sea from the west. Its population is 50 million (2012), and the name of its capital is Seoul, where about 10 million people live. South Korea is considered as a developed, highly industrialized country with a strong economy, which has continued growing steadily since the 1960s. Based on its impressive successes, it has been transferring agricultural technologies and rural development model to a number of developing countries, and has forged partnerships with major development organizations, like the World Bank. For administrative purposes, South Korea is divided into a “special city” (Seoul), a “special self-governing city” (Sejong), six “metropolitan cities”, eight “provinces”, and a “special self- governing province” (Jeju).

Context

Context

South Korea is a mountainous country. Its climate comprises four distinct seasons, i.e. spring, summer, autumn and winter. The country has two sub-climates, one humid, continental, and the other humid sub-tropical depending on the distance from the sea coast. In the central region, winters are extremely harsh while summers are hot and humid. Rains occur during the summer months. The fast pace of industrialization of South Korea over the years has shrunk the contribution of its agricultural sector to the national GDP from 23.3 per cent in 1970 to just 2.63 per cent in 2012. The government, through its pro-farmer policies, has heavily subsidized the agricultural sector, which is mechanized, commercialized, and uses substantial chemical fertilizers. The sector is considered important due to food security and environmental concerns. Major land reforms in the late 1940s and early 1950s transferred land ownership to the peasants. About 60 per cent of the Korean farms are of less than one hectare in size, and only 4.6 per cent are larger than three hectares. Rice is the main food crop, and other crops are barley, millet, corn, buckwheat, soybeans and potatoes.  Fruits include tangerines, citrus, pears, grapes, apples, persimmons and strawberries. Among vegetables, cabbage, onions, red peppers, and radishes are common. The cultivation of flowers has been gaining popularity. Cash crops include cotton, hemp, sesame, tobacco, and ginseng. Livestock (cattle, hog and poultry), forestry and fisheries are also important economic sectors.   

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

17,560

18.08

1,492,000

15.36

0.02

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

336.05

2010

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

2.63

100.76

1.17

4.79

2012

2011

2012

2012

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

22,670

2012

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

98.55

2011

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

110.36

84.1

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

50,004,000

512.65

8,266,361

16.53

4.39

25,765,233

1,273,000

0.04

43.44

2012

2011

2012

2012

2011

2011

2010

2011

2010

Sources: The World Bank; *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

 

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (January 2014)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanson

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