Purpose The incidence rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) in Korea have been increasing during the past decade. Therefore, it is important to understand the characteristics, including survival, of Korean CRC patients. The aim of this study was to use the nationwide cancer registry to evaluate the characteristics of Korean CRC, focusing on the survival, according to tumor location, sex, and specific age groups. Methods Using the Korea Central Cancer Registry (KCCR), we analyzed a total of 226,352 CRC cases diagnosed from 1993 to 2010. The five-year relative survivals were compared for the proximal colon, the distal colon, and the rectum. Survival rates were compared between men and women and between patients of young age (less than 40 years old) and patients of advanced age (70 years old or older). Results The 5-year survival rates were improved in all subsites between 1993 and 2010. Distal colon cancer showed favorable survival compared to proximal colon or rectal cancer. Females demonstrated worse survival for local or regional cancers, and this difference was significant in for patients in their seventies. Young patients (<40 years old) showed better survival rates for overall and proximal colon cancer comparable to those for older patients (≥40 years old), but advanced age patients (≥70 years old) had worse survivals for all tumor subsites compared to their younger counterparts (<70 years old). These trends were similar in distant CRC. Conclusion Korean CRC has certain distinct characteristics of survival according to tumor location, sex, and age. Despite the limitations of available data, this study contributes to a better understanding of survival differences in Korean CRC.