Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north. During the Korean War (1950-53), U.S troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy.
Korea is home to a set of large firms, so called chaebols, which can be classified as multinational enterprises (MNEs) In the list of the world’s largest 500 companies, ranked by sales for2001 found 12 Korean firms. In 2004, ...view middle of the document...
. The presence of Korean firms is at least as stable as the other large 500 companies. Two Korean firms among Korea’s 12 largest firms in 2001, that is 17%, were unlisted in 2004, while 94 firms among the world’s largest 500 firms were unlisted in 2004, that is, 19%. It is important to note that four Korean trading firms, Samsung Corporation, Hyundai, LG International and SK Global, were listed in the world’s largest 500 companies. These firms make up 34% of the Korea’s largest 12 firms’ revenue in 2001. In 2004, only two trading companies, Samsung Corporation and SK Global (Networks), were listed in the world’s largest 500 companies. Moreover, most of the revenue of Samsung Corporation and SK Global came from outside the trading segment in 2004. Over the same time period, Korea’s international trade had increased more than 60%: from US $292 billion to US $478 billion.
Rising from obscurity 25 years ago, Korean electronics companies have come to own a significant share of the world electronics market today. They are now the major DRAM suppliers in the world. They conduct state-of-the-art R&D projects, establish foreign ventures, and support world-class university science and technology (S&T) programs. Due to technologies, manufacturing procedures, capabilities, and infrastructure have made them so successful. This information, coupled with understanding of the future direction of the Korean electronics industry, is vital to U.S. competitiveness, to help U.S. businesses determine in which market sectors to compete and in which areas subcontracting, outsourcing, and partnership agreements would be beneficial.
Coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
GDP growth rate
2.2% (2008 est.)
5.1% (2007 est.)
5.2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$27,700 (2008 est.)
$27,100 (2007 est.)
$25,900 (2006 est.)
Electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals shipbuilding, steel
Semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics