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    Korea, South Economy 1998

      Economy - overview As one of the Four Dragons of East Asia, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth. Three decades ago its GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Today its GDP per capita is eight times India's, 15 times North Korea's, and already up with 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 1997/98 exposed certain longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Also, a number of private sector conglomerates are near bankruptcy. At yearend 1997, an international effort, spearheaded by the IMF, was underway to shore up reserves and stabilize the economy. Growth in 1998 will be sharply cut. Long-term growth will depend on how successfully South Korea implements planned economic reforms that would bolster the financial sector, improve corporate management, and open the economy further to foreign participation.

      GDP purchasing power parity - $631.2 billion (1997 est.)

      GDP - real growth rate 6% (1997 est.)

      GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $13,700 (1997 est.)

      GDP - composition by sector
      agriculture: 8%
      industry: 45%
      services: 47% (1991 est.)

      Inflation rate - consumer price index 5% (1996)

      Labor force
      total: 20 million
      by occupation: services and other 52%, mining and manufacturing 27%, agriculture, fishing, forestry 21% (1991)

      Unemployment rate 2% (1996)

      revenues: $101 billion
      expenditures: $101 billion, including capital expenditures of $20 billion (1996 est.)

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

      Industrial production growth rate 8.2% (1996)

      Electricity - capacity 31.665 million kW (1995)

      Electricity - production 174.52 billion kWh (1995)

      Electricity - consumption per capita 3,831 kWh (1995)

      Agriculture - products rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish catch of 2.9 million metric tons, seventh largest in world

      total value: $129.8 billion (f.o.b., 1996)
      commodities: electronic and electrical equipment, machinery, steel, automobiles, ships; textiles, clothing, footwear; fish
      partners: US 17%, EU 13%, Japan 12% (1995)

      total value: $150.2 billion (c.i.f., 1996)
      commodities: machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, textiles, organic chemicals, grains
      partners: US 22%, Japan 21%, EU 13% (1995)

      Debt - external $154 billion (1998 est.)

      Economic aid $NA

      Currency 1 South Korean won (W) = 100 chun (theoretical)

      Exchange rates South Korean won (W) per US$1 - 1,706.80 (January 1998), 951.29 (1997), 804.45 (1996), 771.27 (1995), 803.45 (1994), 802.67 (1993)

      Fiscal year calendar year

      NOTE: The information regarding Korea, South on this page is re-published from the 1998 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Korea, South Economy 1998 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Korea, South Economy 1998 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 21-Dec-01
    Copyright © 2001 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)