|The People of Korea
Korea has one of the highest average population densities in the world, comparable to the most heavily populated areas in the United States and Europe. However, as may be seen in the population map, the population distribution is uneven. The mountain highlands in the northeast and south are generally less populated than the coastal plains in the west. The map doesn't accurately convey one of the most important population phenomena in Korea since the Korean War: the shift of population from rural to urban settings. As may be seen in Tables (1) and (3) on the next page, more than three-fourths of all Koreans lived in the countryside in 1950, but now more than two-thirds of the North Koreans, and more than four-fifths of the South Koreans live in cities. Indeed, even though the population of both nations has more than doubled since the Korean War, the rural population of North Korea has stayed about the same, while the rural population of South Korea has decreased by more than half.
Due to the population shift city populations in Korea have exploded in the last fifteen years. Seoul has led them all: a city of only about 1 million people in 1950, it has over 11 million people today. Seoul is currently the tenth largest metropolitan area in the world, comparable to Mexico City, New York City, Los Angeles, and Bombay.
Even though the population of Korea has grown enormously since the Korean War, the rate of growth in the last ten years has slowed greatly due to government efforts. The birth rate in Korea has now dropped below replacement level. As a result, the average age of the general population will grow older in the future.
Tables 2 and 4 on page two give the populations of some of the other large cities in Korea.
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