Estimating water footprint of paddy rice in Korea

Seung Hwan Yoo, Jin Yong Choi, Sang Hyun Lee, Taegon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to examine the issues of low grain self-sufficiency and the high portion of agricultural water use in South Korea, and to trace the water footprint (WF) of rice products. In this study, different types of water use were described as green, blue, and gray WFs and were analysed using suitable estimation methods to determine irrigation water requirements in South Korea. Virtual water (VW) import and export of rice product were calculated based on international trade statistics during 2004-2009, and the WF of the national consumption was estimated. The WF of rice was 844.5 m3/ton, and green, blue, and gray water accounted for 294.5, 501.6, and 48.4 m3/ton, respectively. The VW import and export were 404.17 and 2.03 Mm3/year, respectively, against an import 199.5 times that of the export. Three countries (China, USA, and Thailand) accounted for over 95 % of the total VW imports of rice products into South Korea. The total WF was 5,712.08 Mm3/year, thus the WF per capita for rice was estimated at 118.1 m3/year. The internal WF of rice consumption was 5,308.05 Mm3/year, and the external WF was 404.03 Mm3/year. The WF of total agricultural water use should be analyzed for sustainable agricultural production and water management, and these results should be applied in establishing long-term policies for agricultural water resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-54
Number of pages12
JournalPaddy and Water Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Paddy rice
  • South Korea
  • Virtual water
  • Water footprint


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