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South Korea

Leading sectors:

Agriculture

A quarter of South Koreaโ€™s land is cultivated, but the fields are predominantly managed by manual labor and animal power. In more recent times, however, productivity has improved as more emphasis is placed on mechanization, specialization and commercialization. Rice is the most important crop. Cultivation of a wide variety of fruits including tangerines and other citrus fruits, pears, persimmons, and strawberries, along with vegetables (especially cabbages) and flowers, has become increasingly important.

Electronics

Koreaโ€™s electronics industry is its best-known industry around the world, and one of the countryโ€™s main sectors. Over the past half-century, Korea’s electronics industry has greatly improved its position in the world market. In 2015, Korea ranked 4th in the global ranking of the electronics industry, behind China, the U.S., and Japan.

Shipbuilding

During the 1970s and 1980s, South Korea became a leading producer of ships, including oil supertankers, and oil-drilling platforms. In 2008, South Korea eventually became the world’s dominant shipbuilder with a 50.6% share of the global shipbuilding market. In 2021, South Korea came second to China in terms of ship orders received, the equivalent to 38% of the global shipbuilding market.

Automotive

While its initial operations were merely the assembling of parts imported from foreign companies, South Korea is today among the most advanced automobile-producing countries in the world. Hyundai is the most important company in this field, and its cumulative exports to the U.S. exceeded one million in 1990.

Textile

The textile industry in South Korea played a vital role in the countryโ€™s initial stages of industrialization. Now it is still seeing steady growth with an expected export reach of about $14.32 billion in 2021. To catch up with the rapid evolution of the Korean fashion trends, textile industries have to be quite innovative and quick in developing new technologies to match the demands of the consumers. To help the industry reach its export target, the country has signed a free trade agreement (FTAs) with a number of countries in the world.

Tourism

South Korea is one of the most visited countries of the world. Visitors are attracted by the union of tradition and modernity that the country has to offer: among popular tourist attractions in South Korea, modern values are often projected onto historic cultural heritage. In 2019, 17.5 million foreign tourists visited South Korea, making it the 20th most visited country in the world, and the 6th most visited in Asia. In 2019, Seoul ranked 23rd among the world’s most popular cities with 9.11 million tourists.

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