Country of the World South Korea

About the country South Korea, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Size: 38,022 sq. mi. (98,477 sq. km.).

Population: 36.9 million.

Who Rules: The Republic of Korea is ruled by Park Chung Hee (or Pak Jung Hi), a general who has been "elected" president three times since seizing power in a 1961 military coup. Since 1972 Park has governed under martial law.

Who REALLY Rules: The Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), which maintains an estimated 30,000 domestic agents as well as foreign operations, guarantees that there will be no opposition to military rule.

Though the U.S. officially deplores Park's constant violations of human rights, it continues to prop up his regime militarily and economically. Working with Japan and the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. has imposed an economic system based upon integration with the capitalist world economy. The Americans may disapprove of Park's repression, but most American policymakers recognize that rigid rule is necessary to provide cheap labor for U.S. and other foreign corporations.

President Park's government spares no effort in suppressing dissent by students, religious activists, intellectuals, and workers, and justifies its measures by pointing to the threat of Communist takeover from the north. Government agents follow dissenters openly, secretly examine their tax records, and watch for signs of disloyalty. Church meetings of suspected dissidents are monitored by men who "never sing hymns, refuse the collection plate, and frequently take pictures of worshipers." The government has recently established a computerized ID-card system for all citizens.

The KCIA is also active abroad, spying on Koreans and buying influence in at least the U.S. and Japan. The Park government and more than 100 U.S. congressmen were embarrassed in 1976-1977 when the U.S. press exposed Park Tong Sun, a Korean businessman based in Washington, D.C. Park, who was a popular social host in the U.S. capital, had provided campaign contributions and other favors to at least 115 members of Congress, chiefly Democrats, while maintaining close ties to leading Republicans. The illegal lobbying apparently paid off in the passage of controversial military assistance legislation.

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