Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Two Koreas by the numbers

The following is excerpted from a column authored by one Tarek Heggy and was posted today at Winds of Change.

This column is an exceptional, and concise, comparison of the Two Koreas. One is a free, wealthy, capitalistic democracy, and a living, breathing demonstration of the superiority of the Free World. The other is its evil twin.

Korea was one nation before being divided by the ideologies of the Cold War era. The people of the two Koreas are racially the same and they speak the same language. The greatest distinguishing feature between the two Koreas emerged due to disparate choices between two historical paths and destinies. Therefore, 45 years after of the end of the Korean War, it is the right of the reader to know, and the duty of authors to explain, the reasons that led to the creation of two Koreas. There is a South Korea that moves, works and lives politically and economically in concurrence with the Western system, and a North Korea which circled in the orbit of the Eastern bloc, strictly speaking of Mao Tsetung's communist China.

Thus, it has become up to humanity to see, reflect on and examine the repercussions of each path and the choices of South Korea and North Korea. In my belief, these two choices are the most significant characteristics of the era of the Cold War. Equally, the modern results of the two significant historical choices of each Korea represent the fruit and consequence of each choice.

When the Korean Peninsula was divided into two nations, North and South Korea, more than half a century ago the number of people living in each of the states was almost the same. Today, due to the deteriorating living and health conditions and the high mortality rate among children in North Korea its population numbers only half that of South Korea's 50 million.

It is noteworthy that while mortality rate among children in South Korea is six in every one thousand, in North Korea the percentage is four times more than that. This means that 24 children out of every one thousand newborns die before their first birthday in North Korea.

I thought it would be suitable, for the benefit of the message of this article, to offer the readers a number of significant comparative facts that I have compiled during a prolonged study of the two countries.

For example, while the number of telephone lines in South Korea reaches 24 million, in North Korea there are less than two million telephone lines. The annual electrical consumption for the whole of South Korea is 320 billion kWh. On the other hand the North Korean state consumes only 21 billion kWh annually, which means that the amount of electricity being used in South Korea is 15 times more than it is in North Korea. Furthermore, while South Korea consumes 650 thousand barrels of oil on daily basis, North Korea consumes only 25 thousand barrels. In other words, South Korea's usage of petrol is 2500% higher than North Korea's.

It is worthy to mention that there is a certain mathematical relationship between the amount of petrol used in any society and the level of economical development in that society. The greatest proof for this equation is China. While the Chinese economy has been growing at a rate of 9% annualy, there has been an consummate increase in the country's demand for petrol and other fossil fuels.

In addition to the previously mentioned comparisons between the two countries, the amount of the total economic production in South Korea is equivalent to $1200 billion while the economic production in North Korea does not exceed $40 billion, which means that the local production of South Korea is 30 times what it is in North Korea. The per capita real income in South Korea has reached $24,000 per year, while in North Korea it is less than $1,800 per year. It could be useful and even funny for readers to know that the average height of males in South Korea has increased to 1.74 m, while it remains 1.58 m among North Korean males. Finally, life expectancy in South Korea is approaching 80 years, while it remains ten years less than that in North Korea.

I think that readers will agree that these comparative statistics are extremely significant indicators that need no explanation. One country chose poverty, backwardness, and suffering, while the other chose progress, prosperity, health, and production. Talking about the pride of a nation, one side chose to receive donations and financial aid, while the other chose development and wealth and has subsequently obtained excess funds so that it can offer aid to others.

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