Historical Statistics of Korea: A Survey

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Kim, Nak Nyeon
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Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR), Vol.2 No.2, pp. 1-34
Historical StatisticsLong-term StatisticsPopulationNational AccountsTradePriceKorea
Translated by Ria Chae from the article published in Review of Economic History 50:171-196, 2011 with permission from the Korean Economic History Society.
Korea was forced to open itself to international trade in 1876 and it was annexed by Japan in

1910. Thirty-five years later, Korea regained independence, but the country was split into two

separate regimes North and South Korea. During each of these periods, a different system for gathering statistics was used, which makes it difficult to compile a consistent series of annual

figures over those periods. Territorial division creates another obstacle because statistics from the pre-liberation period cover the entire peninsula, but those of the period after are confined to the southern half. Compiling statistics according to international standards began in

South Korea during the 1950s and 1960s, although there are differences depending on the area being explored.

Several attempts have been made to compile statistical data from those past periods and link them with current statistics. This article surveys such research, focusing on the population figures, per capita GDP, trade index, and consumer price index. Our purpose is to clarify how these century-long series of statistics were estimated, what new findings were gleaned from the series, and what tasks still remain.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.02, No.01/02 (2012)
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