Korea South Environment - 2021


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Environment - current issues

air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing; solid waste disposal; transboundary pollution

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 24.57 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 620.3 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 30.28 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 6.672 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 4.45 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 15.96 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

69.7 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter; cold winters

Land use

agricultural land: 18.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 15.3% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 2.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 63.9% (2018 est.)

other: 18% (2018 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0.01% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 123


urban population: 81.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 0.31% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

respiratory diseases: Covid-19 (see note) (2020)

note: a novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in South Korea; as of 19 July 2021, South Korea has reported a total of 180,481 cases of COVID-19 or 352.03 cumulative cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population with 4.02 cumulative deaths per 100,000 population; as of 19 July 2021, 31.78% of the population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 18,218,975 tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 10,567,006 tons (2014 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 58% (2014 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Korea South on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Korea South 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Korea South 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.