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Economy of Korea
Currency South Korean won (KRW)
GDP(Purchasing power parity) $1.784 trillion(2014)
GDP(per capita) $35,400(2014)
Exports $572.7 billion(2014)
Imports $528.6 billion(2014)
Industries electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Exports commodities semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Imports commodities machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Exports partners China 25.4%, US 12.3%, Japan 5.6%, Hong Kong 4.8%, Singapore 4.2% (2014)
Imports partners China 17.1%, Japan 10.2%, US 8.7%, Saudi Arabia 7%, Qatar 4.9%, Germany 4.1% (2014)
SOURCE: CIA - The World Factbook


SOURCE: CIA - The World Factbook

South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and currently is among the world's 20 largest economies. Initially, a system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, made this success possible.

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 longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing.

GDP plunged by 6.9% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. Korea adopted numerous economic reforms following the crisis, including greater openness to foreign investment and imports. Growth moderated to about 4% annually between 2003 and 2007. With the global economic downturn in late 2008, South Korean GDP growth slowed to 0.3% in 2009. In the third quarter of 2009, the economy began to recover, in large part due to export growth, low interest rates, and an expansionary fiscal policy, and growth was 3.6% in 2011. In 2011, the US-South Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments and is projected to go into effect in early 2012. The South Korean economy's long term challenges include a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, and heavy reliance on exports - which comprise half of GDP.


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