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?