While reading the AAIB report on the crash of KAL 8509, I came across (in section 1.17.11, “Korean aviation statistics”) this surprising information regarding the South Korean aircraft population in 1997:

[...] In addition there were 57 aircraft (including helicopters) operating in the commuter and non-schedule area of the market and 44 general aviation aircraft. [...]

(Page 58 of the paper report; page 70 of the PDF file of the report; emphasis added.)

This is a mind-bogglingly tiny number of general-aviation aircraft for a country with as many people as South Korea (45.95 million in 1997), coming out to less than one general-aviation aircraft per million citizens; in contrast, in the same year, the U.S. had slightly under 200,000 general-aviation aircraft distributed among 272.9 million citizens, or approximately one general-aviation aircraft per 1,200-1,500 citizens.

Why was the South Korean population of general-aviation aircraft so small in the late 1990s?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Considering that just over 50% of the world's GA aircraft are in the US perhaps you should be asking why the US has so many, rather than why South Korea has so few? :-) $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 1 '19 at 3:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Consider that South Korea is a small country - at 38,691 mi^2, it's smaller than all but 13 US states - and geographically isolated, so there aren't really all that many places to fly to within the country. Outside, about the only place within practical GA range that's also politically accessible is Japan. It was also quite poor until relatively recently. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 1 '19 at 4:27

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