> Useful Information > Korea in Brief > People
In the seventh century, the various states of the peninsula
were unified for the first time under the Silla Kingdom
(57 B.C.-A.D. 935). Such homogeneity has enabled Koreans
to be relatively free from ethnic problems and to maintain
a firm solidarity with one another.
As of the end of 2003, Korea's total population was estimated
at 48,386,000 with a density of 485 people per square
kilometer. The population of North Korea is estimated
to be 22,400,000.
Korea saw its population grow by an annual rate of 3 percent
during the 1960s, but growth slowed to 2 percent over
the next decade. Today, the rate stands at 0.6 percent,
and is expected to further decline to 0.06 percent by
A notable trend in Korea's demographics is that it is
growing older with each passing year. Statistics show
that 6.9 percent of the total population of Korea was
65 years or older in 1999 and 7.9 percent of the total
In the 1960s, Korea's population distribution formed a
pyramid shape, with a high birth rate and relatively short
life expectancy. However, the structure is now shaped
more like a bell with a low birth rate and extended life
expectancy. Youth (under the age of 15 years) will make
up a decreasing portion of the total, while senior citizens
(65 years or older) will account for some 15.1 percent
of the total by the year 2020.
The nation's rapid industrialization and urbanization
in the 1960s and 1970s has been accompanied by continuing
migration of rural residents into the cities, particularly
Seoul, resulting in heavily populated metropolitan areas.
However, in recent years, an increasing number of people
have begun moving to suburban areas of Seoul.