| ||South Korea, a new industrial power and the eleventh largest economy in the world in 2007, now owes only 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to agriculture. With three-quarters of Korea’s surface mountainous, only 16.6 percent of the nation consists of arable land, half of which is devoted to growing rice. The very form of this misty agricultural basin surrounded by craggy peaks reminds Koreans of the shape of a bowl of rice. In winter, snow fills the bottom of the furrows, while in summer the rice paddies reflect light in a patchwork of ocher and green, creating a tranquil, painstakingly maintained landscape. Before the rice grains are planted, the soil is gathered up by a machine and fertilized, then replaced. In order to achieve self-sufficiency, South Korea has made rice-growing the priority of its agricultural policy: in 2004, only 4 percent of the rice consumed here was imported. To ensure that this objective was reached, the authorities set restrictions on imports and subsidized farmers. But since 2005, Korea has committed to agreements with the World Trade Organization (WTO) which will gradually put an end to this protectionism and increase its rice import quota to 8 percent by 2014.
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