The Korean government has maintained a presidential system, wherein the President is the head of state and chief executive. Under the present system, government power is shared by three branches: the legislative, judicial, and executive. In addition, two other constitutionally based institutions, the constitutional Court and the National Election Commission, also perform governing functions.
The population of the Republic of Korea as of 2016 was 51 million. While rapid population growth once posed a problem, recent family planning campaigns and changing attitudes, have curbed this, with an annual growth rate of only 2.7% in 2016. The Republic does have an ageing population though.
All Koreans speak and write the same language, which has facilitated the development of a strong national identity. There are several dialects, but apart from that of Jeju-do province, they are similar enough to be understood by all native speakers without any difficulties.
Korea’s transformation since 1962 from a poor agrarian society to the society it is today has been described as the “economic miracle on the Hangang River”. The development has dramatically transformed the Korean economy.
The economic crisis beginning in late 1997 threatened Korea’s success, but with the implementation of an IMF agreement, governmental commitment to reform, and negotiation of foreign debt restructuring with creditor banks, the nation remained on track. Since the onset of the crisis, Korea has been integrating itself into the world economy, and attempting to develop an economic structure suitable for an advanced economy.
Korea has air service agreements with 94 countries and major international airlines now offer over 8,560 scheduled direct or non-stop flights per week from Korea to major cities in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
A high-speed rail service linking Seoul with the southern port city of Busan was launched in April 2004. This new rail service, dubbed as Korea Train Express or KTX, cut travel time from Seoul to Busan to two hours and 40 minutes from the four and a half hours. The Seoul-Busan travel time will further be cut to one hour and 56 minutes. It is expected to ease current traffic congestion on highways and offer greater convenience to the public.
Lastly, Container ships from Korea utilise the international sea lanes to ports in South and North America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. Foreign ocean liners, cruise ships and passenger-carrying freighters also pay frequent visits to Korean ports. A significant increase in annual cargo handling capability of Korea’s ports between 2010 and 2016 a reflects the increasing importance of maritime transportation in national development. There is now a major government body responsible for promoting development of the maritime transportation industry.