중앙데일리

Changing times reflected in statistics data

Aug 14,2006
The National Statistical Office yesterday released a grab-bag of statistics inviting Koreans to ponder the dramatic changes here since Korea was liberated from Japanese rule in 1945.
The statistics body noted that the crowds at Incheon International Airport leaving for vacations or for study abroad are a recent phenomenon. Only in 1989 were the last controls on foreign travel lifted; those curbs were mainly designed to conserve foreign exchange. Last year, 9.5 million Koreans traveled overseas; in 1960, by comparison, the number was only about 8,000.
Even the republic’s national territory has grown. The agency said reclamation projects have added nearly 100,000 square kilometers (38,610 square miles), or 6.4 percent, to Korea’s land area since 1949. Farm land has stayed nearly constant at about 20,650 square kilometers, although the area under cultivation has dropped about 11 percent since 1949.
“The area of farmland peaked in the late 1960s during efforts to secure a domestic food supply, but has been trending downward since then because of rapid industrialization and urbanization,” said Kim Yu-seon, a statistician at the office.
Korea’s population has grown 2.4 times since 1949, to 48.3 million last year. Per-capita income grew dizzyingly, and was 243 times larger, at $16,291 last year, than it was in 1953.
The expansion of the economy has been accompanied by inflation. A product that sold for 1,000 won in 1965 fetched 28,000 won last year, the statistics agency said.
Living conditions are dramatically different. In 1955, Korea had only 7,000 passenger cars; by 2005, there were 11.1 million. Nine of 10 Korean households now own a car.
A quarter of Korean women are college graduates; only a tenth of a percent were in 1947. Ninety-eight percent of Korean women two years after World War II had only an elementary school education or less.
Koreans with college degrees now make up 31 percent of the population, up from 0.6 percent in 1947.


by Moon So-young


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