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中国株レポート
投資の視点
新興成長国基礎データ
中華人民共和国
パプアニューギニア
インドネシア
スリランカ
バングラディッシュ
インド
韓国
タイ
パキスタン
マレーシア
ベトナム
フィリピン
アルゼンチン
ブラジル
チリ
メキシコ
エクアドル
ベネズエラ
ペルー

ヨルダン
ポルトガル
ギリシャ
ポーランド
ハンガリー
ザンビア
トルコ
ナイジェリア
モーリシャス
ボツワナ

Geography

The Republic of Korea borders North Korea on the 38th parallel. The country has an area of 99,274 sq. km.

Demography

In mid-1992 the population was estimated at 43.7 million. The annual rate of population growth has fallen from about 2.9% a year in the early 1960s to 1.0% by 1990. The geographical distribution of the population is a matter of concern to the authorities. The population living in towns rose from 32% in 1965 to 69% in 1988, but more serious, by 1985 about 26% were living in Seoul. The concentration of so many people in Seoul (10.6% in 1990) has worrying strategic implications in view of the city's closeness to the frontier with North Korea. Since 1970 the proportion of the population under the age of 15 has been falling, and it was 27% in 1990.

High priority is accorded to education in Korea. Primary school enrolment has been virtually 100% since the mid-1960s, but secondary school enrolment has risen from 35% to about 88%, while the number enrolled in institutions of higher education, as a proportion of the 20-24 age group, has risen from 6% in 1967 to about 37% ( a higher proportion than in Germany and Japan). Military service is compulsory for between 30 and 36 months.

The labour force in 1990 was estimated at 17.9 million, with 42% engaged in commercial and services, 28% in manufacturing, 20% in agriculture, 6% in construction and 4% in the public sector and utilities.

History and Politicial Situation

Following Japan's defeat in 1945, its troops north of the 38th parallel were ordered to surrender to the USSR and those south of it to the USA, the 38th parallel now being the border between the two Korean republics. The Republic of Korea came into existence in 1948 but in 1950-53 the Korean war broke out as the communists from the North attempted, in vain, to unify the peninsula. As a result there has been pressure on the Koreans to maintain internal stability in order not to provoke a further invasion. Spending on defence has been of paramount importance to authoritarian right wing figures in power whether civilian, President Rhee (1948-60), or the military Presidents Park (1960-79) and Chun (1980-88).

Having narrowly won the elections in 1972, President Park imposed a new coalition later that year transforming the role of president into that of virtual dictator. He was assassinated in 1979. In less than a year student demonstrations were the catalyst for a return to "democracy" but the imposition of martial law. In 1981, General Chun was endorsed (by indirect elections) as president and his control of the National Assembly was established by legislative election. A new constitution in 1980 limited the president to one seven year term.

In the 1985 National Assembly elections the New Korea Democratic Party (NKDP), effectively a resurrected New Democratic Party (NDP) banned in 1980, made sweeping gains in the cities. It absorbed the Democratic Korea Party (DP), although the governing Democratic Justice Party (DJP) retained a working majority Politics suffered an upheaval as the opposition refused to step down on the issue of direct elections to the presidency. The NKDP was split, with Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Yong-Sam forming a new group. In April 1987, President Chun declared that the presidential elections later in the year would be conducted under the existing indirect system. However, the DJP selected Roh Tae-Woo, a retired general, as its presidential candidate and there was public rioting at the prospect of seven more years of imposed military rule. In the December 1987 elections Roh was elected on a minority vote as the leading opposition further split into two parties led separately by Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Yong-Sam.

Roh was in sworn as president in February 1988, but the DJP failed to win an overall majority in the elections for the National Assembly. In January 1990, however, the DJP announced a merger with the NDRP and RDP, to form a new Democratic Liberal Party (DLP). The new party had a two thirds majority in the National Assembly, leaving PPD as the only opposition party.

In the legislative elections of March 1992, the DLP's share of the poll dropped to 38.55% compared with the 73% its constituent parties polled separately in 1988 falling just short of an overall majority in the new Assembly with 149 seats out of 300. It has since won over two of the 22 deputies elected as independents. The Democratic Party (toned by the merger of the PPD and a minor opposition party) broadened its appeal to win 29% of the poll and 97 seats, while the new National Unification Party, a vehicle from which Chun Ju-yung, founder of the Hyundai Group, pursuing his feud with the government, won 17% of the votes and 32 seats.

In the latest presidential election in December 1992, Kim Yong-sam, a leader of DLP was elected. He is the first civilian President after more than 30 years of military rule.

Economy

The thrust of economic policy in the 1970s was to develop Korea, with its small internal market and relative lack of exploitable resources, along lines that paralleled Japan's development - based on the promotion of manufacturing industry for export. An abundant supply of highly-educated, highly-skilled and disciplined labour at low wages, a readiness to accept advanced foreign technology, a growing indigenous managerial class and the capability for research and development contributed to the success of export-led growth. Private capital investment was stimulated by a series of incentive programmes for key economic sectors, notably heavy industry such as shipbuilding (in which Korea rapidly overtook the USA, USSR and UK), construction, steel, engineering products and transport equipment. Despite the strikes, protests and labour unrest that characterised the internal political scene, Korea managed to achieve one of the highest sustained economic growth rates in the world during the 1980s, and in so doing surpassed the seemingly ambitious targets laid down by the country's planners in the early 1970s.

Such success has not come trouble-free. The escalation of labour disputes during the 1980s and early 1990s, combined with the excessive wage increases that ensued, have threatened the country's international competitiveness as well as its domestic price stability. A further problem is the growth of protectionist sentiments in the US, Japan and European countries. Increasingly, US and Japan are reluctant to sell technology to Korea. The emergence of regional economic blocs, such as the European Community and the North American Free Trade Area, is expected to prove a challenge in coming years; however, rapidly growing ASEAN countries and the developing Chinese market may offer new opportunities for Korea.

Throughout the period of rapid growth of the economy, the basic feature of the financial system was close control by the government of the volume and destination of the bank lending. The main aim of policy was to provide cheap credit for officially approved purposes. As a result, the development of the equity and corporate bond markets was stunted in relative terms. At the same time, politically directed fund flows have proved both expensive and inefficient, and it is officially recognised that the financial system is inadequate for the needs of the economy. However, reform of the financial system is proving to be one of the more difficult aspects of the deregulation of the economy promised by the new government. Until it is allowed to proceed, further developments will remain hampered.

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