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Gender and Land Rights Database

Republic of Korea

Prevailing systems of land tenure

- The Land Reform Program of 1950 established the country’s modern agricultural system. Prior to the reform, most of the farmland was owned by a small number of landlords, while most farmers were tenants using traditional technology and paying rent amounting to more than 50 percent of their revenue (7).

- Land ownership is either private or public. The central government and local government own 15.9 percent and 6.9 percent of total area of state and public land as of the end of 2004, equivalent to 22.8 percent of the total area (35).

- In agriculture, the land tenure system is characterized by small-sized family farming due to the 3 ha limit on the size of farmland. The average farm size was 1.48 hectares in 2004, although it has increased from 0.93 hectares in 1980 due to the recent easement of the restriction on farm size on the part of the government (7).

- Borrowed farmland has increased due to the presence of large portions of land owned by urban residents, which remained uncultivated.
The farmland owned by urban residents is usually farmland left behind by those who migrated from rural areas without selling their land; or it may be farmland inherited from farmer parents by sons living in urban areas; or farmland bought by urban residents who have violated the regulations for farmland purchase.
The proportion of farmland not under cultivation by the landowner was 37 percent of the total area of farmland in 1990 (24).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography