South Korea Facts
South Korea is known for its history, unique natural attractions, modern cities of millions and sandy beaches. The southern part of dichotomous Korea offers the traveler oriental exoticism. South Korea has emerged as an economic power in recent decades. Gradually, it has also begun to raise its profile as a tourist destination.
Seoul is a large city of about ten million inhabitants. It was built on top of the ancient trading place of the Finnish tribes, Nevanlinna.
Official language: Korea
Currency: South Korean won
Passport and visa: The passport must be valid for the entire trip and 6 months after the trip. A Finnish tourist does not need a visa if the stay in South Korea lasts less than 90 days.
Time difference to Finland: +7 in winter time and +6 in summer time compared to Finnish time.
Daylight saving time is not used
The terrain is mountainous and only one fifth of South Korea’s surface can be used for agriculture. The cultivated land is found mainly in the river valleys and on plains in the south and west. Mild climates make South Korea more suitable than North Korea for cultivation. This is especially true for rice.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of South Korea. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Rice fields occupy close to two-thirds of all arable land. Other crops include oats, beans, potatoes and wheat. Vegetables and fruits are also important products. Livestock breeding is undergoing strong development. For South Korea defense and foreign policy, please check recipesinthebox.
Most farms are small, but productivity has increased significantly through high mechanization and a lot of fertilizers and pesticides. At the same time, industrialization has dramatically reduced the proportion of South Korean working people in agriculture. The country now imports a lot of grain but is almost self-sufficient with rice.
The importance of fishing for home consumption and for export has decreased. However, the country has one of the world’s largest deep-sea fishing fleets.
Forests during the first part of the 20th century were gradually replaced by reforestation and forest management. Nowadays, the country is wooded to two-thirds, but forestry is limited. Nearly 90 percent of the wood raw material is imported, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
2.0 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
17.4 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of SKR stands for the state of South Korea in geography.
Vessels that broke the sanctions seized
The government states that a Hong Kong-registered vessel was seized in October, when it was suspected of violating UN sanctions to prevent oil supplies to North Korea. Oil loaded in South Korea must have been transferred to a North Korean vessel as well as three other vessels on international waters. The data from South Korea comes at the same time as US President Donald Trump accuses China of repeatedly violating UN sanctions in a similar way. The week before Christmas, the UN Security Council tightened its sanctions further on North Korea. The decision was unanimous and was therefore also supported by China.
Historical agreement with Japan is torn down
There are “serious deficiencies” in the historic settlement with Japan of women exploited during the Japanese occupation of 1910-1945 (see December 2015), says President Moon. The statement comes the day after a report was presented that stated that the settlement does not take into account the views of the victims. Moon now wants to see “follow-up measures” but does not specify what that means. It is thus unclear whether South Korea wants to renegotiate the agreement or scrap it altogether (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).
President Moon and the President of China want better relations
At a meeting in Beijing between South Korean President Moon and China’s President Xi Jinping, an agreement is signed on four principles that the countries must adhere to in the North Korean conflict: war can never be tolerated, Korean peninsula should be nuclear-free, all issues should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations and the aim is to improve relations between the Korean states. Both leaders also expressed a desire to continue to improve relations between China and South Korea, which deteriorated at the beginning of the year in connection with South Korea’s decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD to protect itself against possible missile attacks from North Korea.
South Korea faces sanctions on North Korea
It is the second time in a month that Seoul faces its own sanctions against Pyongyang in addition to the UN sanctions. This time around 20 North Korean banks and companies and 12 bank directors are listed. These should have helped provide the regime with money to develop the nuclear weapons program or contributed to trade in breach of UN sanctions.
South Korea on EU list of tax havens
When the EU publishes its first “black list” of tax havens, South Korea is one of 17 designated countries and territories.
The US and South Korea hold military exercises
About 230 military aircraft, including the US F-22 Raptor fighter jet, participate, as do about 12,000 soldiers from both countries’ air force. The exercise is part of the military training that the countries carry out each year.
Try to get closer between South Korea and China
In joint statements, the governments of South Korea and China express their ambition that relations between the countries should return to normal. South Korea’s decision to set up the US missile defense system THAAD in the country was met by fierce protests from Beijing earlier this year. China believes that the system can be used to get information on Chinese defense capabilities and that it is disrupting the regional security balance in the area.
President continued in detention
Park Geun-Hye, who was deposed in the spring, will remain in custody for another six months as long as the trial against her is still ongoing. The decision is made by a Seoul court. The next day, all the president’s defense lawyers choose to resign in protest against the decision and the trial they consider politically biased.
South Korea continues to deploy missile defense systems
Following North Korea’s nuclear test on September 3, the South Korean government is deploying a further four ramps included in the THAAD missile defense system on a former golf course outside Seongju City about 20 miles south of Seoul. Two ramps and a radar system are already in place. Residents in the area protest against the deployment.
South Korea holds military exercises
An exercise with sharply loaded weapons with test shots of ballistic robots towards targets in the East China Sea will be conducted after North Korea’s nuclear test on September 3.
South Korea strengthens missile defense
US and South Korean presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-In agree to expand capabilities in the THAAD missile defense system. In addition, South Korea will be able to purchase military equipment from the United States for billions of dollars. The agreement is a response to North Korea’s latest missile launches.
Samsung boss sentenced to prison
Lee Jae-Yong, electronics company Samsung’s chief executive in practice, is deemed guilty of donating money to former President Park Geun-Hye’s close friend Choi Soon-Sil’s foundations. In exchange, he should have received political support from the president.
Military exercises begin with the United States
21th of August
The annual exercises that are part of the military cooperation between the two countries are usually met with vigorous protests from North Korea. It will all last for ten days and about 17,000 US soldiers and 50,000 South Korean troops will participate.
North Korean robot tests speed up robot defenses
After North Korea launches a second intercontinental robot in a few weeks, the government announces that the work to get the THAAD robot defense in place should be accelerated. In June, newly-incumbent President Moon Jae-In postponed the introduction of the disputed system, citing the need for a climate review. But North Korea’s threatening actions now appear to lead to the system being put into operation.
Prison for Choi Soon-Sil
Deputy President Park Geun-Hye’s girlfriend Choi Soon-Sil is sentenced to three years in prison for pushing the prestigious Ewha Womans University to accept her daughter as a student and give her approved grades despite her absence. Read more about the corruption scandal surrounding the president and her girlfriend under Current politics.
No more nuclear power plants
President Moon Jae-In announces that South Korea will not build more nuclear power plants or extend the useful life of the current nuclear power plants. In 2016, around a third of the electricity used in the country came from nuclear power.
Moon Jae-In wins presidential election
The early presidential election results in a convincing victory for the Democratic Party candidate, former human rights advocate Moon Jae-In, who gets 41 percent of the vote. In second place comes Hong Jun-Pyo who gets 24 percent, and third place Ahn Cheol-Soo who gets 21 percent of the vote. Moon Jae-In is taking office the day after the election.
Missile defense system ready to use
The controversial US missile defense system THAAD is now ready for use in South Korea, according to the US military. The system has not only led to sharp reactions from China (see Foreign Policy and Defense), but is also controversial among South Koreans (see Current Policy). Not least, a statement by US President Donald Trump that South Korea should pay for THAAD has led to outrage.
Park is being prosecuted for corruption
Prosecution is brought against the deposed President Park Geun-hye for corruption, for leaking state secrets and for abuse of power. Park denies the charges, as does her adviser and friend Choi Soon-sil (see November 2016).
The court decision against Park is firm
The Constitutional Court’s ruling means that President Park cannot re-enter as president. Elections to the presidential post must be held within 60 days – probably on May 9. Meanwhile, Hwang Kyo-Ahn continues as acting president. The verdict leads to demonstrations by Park supporters and clashes with police. However, about 77 percent of South Koreans are positive about the lawsuit against Park, according to opinion polls.
Supreme Samsung boss is facing trial
A lawsuit is launched against corporate giant Samsung’s most powerful boss, Lee Jae-Yong. (see February 2017). Lee denies all charges.
China stops travel to South Korea
China orders Chinese tour operators to cancel trips to South Korea after March 15. The order is a reaction to plans for the US missile defense system. About eight million Chinese tourists visited South Korea in 2016.
Samsung chief arrested by police
Lee Jae-Yong is suspected of bribery in connection with the Choi Soon-Sil scandal (see November 2016 and Current Policy). Lee is suspected of donating the equivalent of $ 36 million to organizations affiliated with Choi. The gifts should have been a way to win government support for a reorganization of Samsung, which would ultimately help Lee become the new chairman of the group. Lee, who is the son of Samsung’s chairman of the board who suffered a heart attack in 2014, is currently the chief executive of the company.
The United States promises to defend South Korea
During his visit to South Korea, the new US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also announces that plans for the US missile defense system in South Korea are firm.
Japan brings home ambassador
It happens after South Korean activists erected a statue outside the Japanese consulate in the city of Busan. The statue represents a young woman sitting in a chair. It is reminiscent of the women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Japan believes that the statue, which also stands outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul for a few years, is contrary to the agreement reached by the countries a year ago where Japan apologized and donated a billion yen to a fund for the South Korean women affected. In accordance with this agreement, the issue would be decided, in Japan’s view. However, activists are critical of the agreement because no victims have been consulted and the victims also receive no direct compensation.
Stick to missile plans
The government will move forward with plans to deploy the US missile defense system THAAD in the country as a protection against North Korea. This is stated by Defense Minister Han Min-Koo in a report. Opposition parliamentarians, however, have met with the Chinese leadership in Beijing and hold the view that the issue of missile defense must be left to a new president. Elections for the presidential post shall be held no later than December 2017.
Daughter of Choi Soon-Sil is arrested
The daughter of President Park’s friend and adviser, who is accused in a corruption case (see November 2016), is in Denmark. She is requested to be detained by a Danish court and will be requested to be extradited by South Korea.