Japan & APEC Member Economies

REPUBLIC OF KOREA

South Korea

Taehan-min'guk



GENERAL

Area:
99,274 km2.

Population:
44,056,000 (1993).

Capital:
Seoul.

Ethnic composition:
Korean.

Major languages:
Korean.

Major religions:
Buddhism (27%), Christianity (21%), Confucianism (12%), Ch'ondogyo (Heavenly Way, 3%).

History:
By the 3rd century B.C. kingdoms were beginning to form, and in the 4th century A.D. the period of the Three Kingdoms began. It was followed by the Silla (668-935) and Koryo (918-1392) periods and the Yi (Choson) dynasty (1392-1910). Korea was ruled by Japan between 1910 and 1945. After World War II the area below the 38th parallel was administered by the U.S. military until the Republic of Korea was established in 1948.

GOVERNMENT

Type:
Republic.

Head of state:
President: Kim Young Sam.

Legislature:
The unicameral National Assembly consists of 299 members elected to four-year terms.

Executive:
The prime minister is Lee Hong Koo; Gong Ro Myung is the foreign minister.

Domestic politics:
Upon becoming president on February 25, 1992, Kim Young Sam set his sights on the creation of a new Korea as a country with a liberal and mature democracy, a just society, and affluent and comfortable communities in which people respect human dignity and lead a cultured way of life. One of his administration's key goals is securing the peninsula's reunification so that all Koreans can live together in peace. As the first civilian head of state in 32 years, President Kim enjoys strong popular support. He has been striving to reform the country's political, economic, and social institutions in order to eliminate a number of deep-rooted problems.
As of September 1995, the ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) held 167 of the National Assembly's seats. Other major forces in the assembly are the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP, 53) and the Democratic Party (DP, 42).

Foreign policy:
During the course of 1995 the Republic of Korea has been working on specific steps to promote globalization and further develop reconciliation and cooperation between the South and the North. At the same time, the government has been seeking to pursue a foreign policy based on the Korea-United States alliance and the Korea-Japan relationship. The Republic of Korea has diplomatic relations with 178 countries, of which 128 also have ties with North Korea.

Military:
Defense budget, $14.0 billion (1994); regular armed forces (conscripted) consist of 520,000 members of the army, 60,000 members of the navy, and 53,000 members of the air force (The Military Balance 1994-95).

SOUTH-NORTH RELATIONSHIP

A number of South-North prime ministerial talks have been held since September 1990. The sixth meeting in February 1992 resulted in an agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, and exchange and cooperation. A joint declaration on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was made at the same time. The ninth meeting scheduled for December 1992 was canceled, however. Further meetings have not been arranged, nor has there been any prospect for the implementation of mutual inspections as stipulated in the denuclearization declaration. South-North trade amounted to $186.6 million in 1993 and $194.5 million in 1994 (customs-clearance basis).

ECONOMY

Major industries:
Textiles, petrochemicals, steel, shipbuilding, machinery, electronics, automobiles.

Nominal GNP:
$328.7 billion (1993).

Per capita GNP:
$7,466 (1993).

Real growth rate:
5.6% (1993).

Inflation:
4.8% (1993).

Unemployment:
2.4% (1993).

Trade: Exports:
$82.2 billion; imports: $83.8 billion (1993, customs-clearance basis).

Principal items traded:
Exports: textile products, electronic products, machinery, metal products, automobiles, ships, chemical products; imports: fuels, machinery, electric products, chemical products, light industry materials.

Principal trading partners:
Exports: United States, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Germany; imports: Japan, United States, Germany, China, Chinese Taipei.

Currency:
Won. US$1=798.90 won, 1 yen=8.11 won (Sep. 30, 1994).

Economic conditions:
In 1993 the Korean economy began recovering from a recession. Although the business climate was adversely affected by a new regulation requiring the use of real names in financial transactions (August) and a decline in earnings from agriculture, the trade balance improved substantially thanks to brisk sales of such exports as automobiles. The upturn continued in 1994, but the resulting expansion of imports caused the trade balance to move into deficit. Currently the economy continue to be in a good condition thanks to strong domestic demand. The GDP growth rate was 9.9% in the first quarter of 1995. Still there has also been a rapid increase in the trade deficit. The government in May 1995 announced a package of new measures to strengthen the capital goods industry, whose weakness has been one of the major reasons for the continued import increase.

BILATERAL RELATIONS

Political:
Japan and the Republic of Korea normalized their relations in 1965, and since then their leaders have been exchanging visits frequently. The present decade began with a visit to Japan by President Roh Tae Woo in 1990, and the next year Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu called on Seoul. Early in 1992 Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa visited Korea, and late that year President Roh visited Kyoto. Toward the end of 1993 Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa went to Kyongju. In March 1994 President Kim Young Sam visited Japan, and Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama went to Seoul.

Trade:
Exports to Japan: $13.5 billion, featuring textile products, metal products, electric products, machinery, fish and shellfish; imports from Japan: $24.3 billion, featuring machinery, electric products, chemical products, steel, consumer durables (1994, customs-clearance basis, provisional).

Investment:
Japanese direct investment in the Republic of Korea amounted to $428 million in 1994.

Cultural:
Exchanges of people and culture between Japan and the Republic of Korea have been steadily expanding with the help of government-level youth exchange programs and programs focusing on intellectual and cultural activities. There has also been an increase in spontaneous exchange initiated at the regional level. A number of aspects of Japanese culture, such as films and popular music, are subject to restriction in Korea. But bunraku, kabuki, and other traditional Japanese performing arts began to be staged in Seoul during the 1980s, and recently a variety of such performances have been presented. In 1992 Korea sent a cultural promotion mission to Japan, while in 1994 Japan sent a large-scale mission to Korea to introduce Japanese culture.

Japanese residing in the Republic of Korea:
9,197 (Oct. 1994).

Koreans residing in Japan:
676,793, (Dec. 1994).

Visits by eminent persons:
Japan to the Republic of Korea: House of Representatives Speaker Yoshio Sakurauchi (1993), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Seiroku Kajiyama (1993), Foreign Minister Kabun Muto (1993), International Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kumagai (1993), Japan-Korea Parliamentarians' Union President Noboru Takeshita (1993), Science and Technology Agency Director General Wakako Hironaka (1993), Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa (1993), Posts and Telecommunications Minister Katsuyuki Hikasa (1994), Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa (1994), Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama (1994), Foreign Minister Yohei Kono (1994), Posts and Telecommunications Minister Shun Oide (1994, 1995), House of Councillors Speaker Bunbei Hara (1994), Chief Cabinet Secretary Kozo Igarashi (1994);
Republic of Korea to Japan: Foreign Minister Han Sung Joo (1993, 1994), Deputy Prime Minister and Economic Planning Minister Lee Kyung Shik (1993), Korea-Japan Parliamentarians' Union President Kim Yoon Whan (1993, 1995), President Kim Young Sam and his wife (1994), National Defense Minister Rhee Byoung Tae (1994), Trade, Industry, and Resources Minister Kim Chul Su (1994), Foreign Minister Gong Ro Myung (1995), Korea-Japan Friendship Association Chairman Kim Su Hang (1995).

Treaties and agreements:
Treaty on Basic Relations Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965), Agreement on Fisheries Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965), Agreement on the Settlement of Problem Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Cooperation Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965), Agreement on Art Objects and Cultural Cooperation Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965), Agreement on the Legal Status and the Treatment of the Nationals of the Republic of Korea Residing in Japan Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1966), Trade Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1966), Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea for Air Services (1967), Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning Joint Development of the Southern Part of the Continental Shelf Adjacent to the Two Countries (1978), Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Establishment of Boundary in the Northern Part of the Continental Shelf Adjacent to the Two Countries (1978), Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Cooperation in the Field of Science and Technology (1985), Exchange of Notes Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning an Intensification of Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1990), Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Maritime Search and Rescue and Emergency Refuge of Vessels (1990), Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Transfer of Costumes and Other Items Connected with the Late Yi Masako (Princess Yi) (1991), Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Korea on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection (1993).

(October 1995)


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