A “suicide virus” is spreading in Korea. According to the National Police Agency, 13,407 Koreans committed suicide last year, a 3.4 percent increase from the previous year. This means some 36.7 people take their own lives each day. The medical community estimated that the number of people who attempt suicide is 32 times more than those who succeeded. If they’re right, some 430,000 people a year, or 1,175 per day, attempt suicide.
According to a 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the suicide rate in 2006 was 21.5 out of every 100,000 Koreans, the highest among OECD member countries. In fact, it is twice the OECD average of 11.2 suicides per 100,000 citizens.
In 2006, the number of people who succeeded in suicide was 37 percent more than the number of people who died from car accidents in Korea.
South Korea also tops the OECD in pedestrian accidents. It would be kind of tasteless to say the way to stop Korea from leading the OECD in these categories, or bringing up the rear, would be to leave the OECD, so I won't say that. South Korea is also the biggest spender on private education in the OECD and, as reported in today's Donga Ilbo, has the "worst ratio of foreign direct investment to gross domestic product" among the organization's member nations. More figures available from the OECD's page on South Korea.
A couple of good reads on suicide in Korea from Gusts of Popular Feeling here and here, both of which generally look at the influence of peer pressure. Two more good ones, here and here, from The Metropolitician.