A review of key facts about South Korea

This list of facts about South Korea is excerpted from the Wikipedia post on the country. (Note: this is a work in progress; I intend to add my own commentary)

-South Korea’s government is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative.

-Although South Korea experienced a series of military dictatorships since the 1960s up until the 1980s, it has since developed into a successful liberal democracy. Today, the CIA World Factbook describes South Korea’s democracy as a “fully functioning modern democracy”.

-A long history of invasions by neighbors and the unresolved tension with North Korea have prompted South Korea to allocate 2.6% of its GDP and 15% of all government spending to its military, while maintaining compulsory conscription for men. Consequently, South Korea has the world’s sixth largest number of active troops, the world’s second-largest number of reserve troops and the eleventh largest defence budget. The Republic of Korea, with a regular military force numbering 3.7 million regular personnel among a total national population of 50 million people, has the second highest number of soldiers per capita in the world

-All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically for a period of two years.

-The South Korean army has 2,500 tanks in operation, including the K1A1 and K2 Black Panther, which form the backbone of the South Korean army’s mechanized armor and infantry forces. A sizable arsenal of many artillery systems, including 1,700 self-propelled K55 and K9 Thunder howitzers, and 680 helicopters and UAVs of numerous types, are assembled to provide additional fire, reconnaissance, and logistics support.

-The South Korean navy has made its first major transformation into a blue-water navy through the formation of the Strategic Mobile Fleet, which includes a battle group of Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyers, Dokdo class amphibious assault ship, AIP-driven Type 214 submarines, and King Sejong the Great class destroyers, which is equipped with the latest baseline of Aegis fleet-defense system that allows the ships to track and destroy multiple cruise missiles and ballistic missiles simultaneously

-The South Korean air force operates 840 aircraft, making it world’s ninth largest air force, including several types of advanced fighters like F-15K, heavily modified KF-16C/D, and the indigenous F/A-50, supported by well-maintained fleets of older fighters such as F-4E and KF-5E/F that still effectively serve the air force alongside the more modern aircraft.

South Korea has a market economy which ranks 15th in the world by nominal GDP and 12th by purchasing power parity (PPP), identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a high-income developed country, with an emerging economy, and is a member of OECD.

-South Korea is the world’s fifth largest nuclear power producer and the second-largest in Asia as of 2010. Nuclear power in South Korea supplies 45% of electricity production and research is very active with investigation into a variety of advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast/transmutation reactor and a high-temperature hydrogen generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally.  South Korea is an emerging exporter of nuclear reactors, having concluded agreements with the UAE to build and maintain four advanced nuclear reactors, with Jordan for a research nuclear reactor, and with Argentina for construction and repair of heavy-water nuclear reactors. As of 2010, South Korea and Turkey are in negotiations regarding construction of two nuclear reactors. South Korea is also preparing to bid on construction of a light-water nuclear reactor for Argentina.

-In June 2009, the first spaceport of South Korea, Naro Space Center, was completed at Goheung, Jeollanam-do. The launch of Naro-1 in August 2009 resulted in failure, and the second attempt in June 2010 was also unsuccessful. The government plans to investigate the problems and develop Naro-2 by 2018.

South Korea’s efforts to build an indigenous space launch vehicle is marred due to persistent political pressure of the United States, who had for many decades hindered South Korea’s indigenous rocket and missile development programs in fear of their possible connection to clandestine military ballistic missile programs, which Korea many times insisted did not violate the research and development guidelines stipulated by US-Korea agreements on restriction of South Korean rocket technology research and development.[102] South Korea has sought the assistance of foreign countries such as Russia through MTCR commitments to supplement its restricted domestic rocket technology. The two failed KSLV-I launch vehicles were based on the Universal Rocket Module, the first stage of the Russian Angara rocket, combined with a solid-fueled second stage built by South Korea.

-Education in South Korea is regarded as being crucial to one’s success, and competition is consequently very heated and fierce. In the 2006 results of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, South Korea came first in problem solving, third in mathematics and eleventh in science. South Korea’s education system is technologically advanced and it is the world’s first country to bring high-speed fibre-optic broadband internet access to every primary and secondary school nation-wide. Using this infrastructure, the country has developed the first Digital Textbooks in the world, which will be distributed for free to every primary and secondary schools nation-wide by 2013

-South Korea’s birthrate is among the world’s lowest. If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13 percent to 42.3 million in 2050

-South Korea is ethnically one of the most homogeneous societies in the world with more than 99 per cent of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity

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2 Comments »

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