South Korea Population

South Korea Population

When South Korea became an independent state in 1948, it was very poor. Tremendous economic growth has made the country one of the richest in Asia. The country is characterized by the conflict with North Korea.

Key figures and facts

  • Capital: Seoul
  • Ethnic groups: Koreans
  • Language: Korean, English
  • Religion: Protestants 20%, Buddhists 16%, Catholics 8%, none 57% (2015) Many practice Confucianism regardless of religious affiliation
  • Population: 51 418 097 (2018)
  • Control Form: Republic
  • Area: 99 720 km²
  • Currency: won
  • GNP per capita: 36 532 PPP $
  • National Day: August 15th

South Korea Population

South Korea has 51 418 097 residents (2018). Life expectancy is 82.5 years (2018). The population is ethnically very homogeneous and consists of Koreans, a Mongolian mixed-race people who immigrated to prehistoric times.

South Korea Country Population

Frequency of birth and mortality

South Korea is smaller than North Korea in area, but has about twice as many residents. This is partly due to the large flow of refugees from north to south during and after the Korean War in 1950–1953. Unlike North Korea, where the authorities have stimulated high birth rates, South Korea has been investing in family planning campaigns since 1965, and the birth rate has dropped from 42 percent in the 1960s to 9.6 percent at the turn of the millennium. Mortality dropped from 13 to 5.3 per milliliter over the same period.

As of 2018, the birth rate is 8.3 births per 1000 people, or 1.27 children per woman. The death rate is 6.3 per 1000.

Life expectancy is 79.4 years for men and 85.8 years for women, a total of 82.5 years (2018).

Population Density

The population density averages 517.35 people per square kilometer (2014), and South Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in Asia. The settlement is highly concentrated to the coastal and lowland areas in the west and south, while the northeast coast in particular is relatively thinly populated. During the post-war period, there has been a significant move from the countryside to the cities, and 81.4 percent of the population (2019) resides in cities and towns, compared to 20 percent in 1950. The capital Seoul (Seoul) has its 9,774,000 residents (2015) alone account for almost a fifth of the country’s population and are among the largest cities in Asia. Other important cities are Busan (Busan), Taegu (Daegu) and Inchon.


In 2005, South Korea was ranked 28th out of 177 countries on the UN Living Index. By 2012, this had risen to number 12.


The national language is Korean, which is written with its own alphabet (Hangŭl). The use of Chinese characters (hanja) has shown a steadily declining tendency in favor of the domestic alphabet. The case law practice has therefore approached official law writing in North Korea.


About 28 percent of the population are Buddhists and about 22 percent are Confucians. There are also supporters of various new religions and traditional religions.

Since World War II, Christian churches have made significant progress, and Christians make up about 36 percent (27 percent Protestants, 6 percent Catholics). The largest church community is the Presbyterians, but there are also many Methodists and Pentecostals. The world’s largest Christian congregation is David Yonggi Cho’s Pentecostal church in Seoul with over 700,000 members.

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