South Korea

South Korea

Overview
The Republic of Korea (ROK, Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

: , Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

: , tɛːhanminɡuk̚), (commonly known as South Korea ), is a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

) to the west, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 to the east, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 to the north, and the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 and Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 to the south. South Korea lies in a humid continental
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

 and humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square kilometers and has a population of almost .
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Timeline

1948   In Jeju, South Korea, a civil-war-like period of violence and human rights abuses begins, known as the Jeju massacre.

1948   The South Korean constitution is proclaimed.

1948   The Republic of Korea is established south of the 38th parallel north.

1950   The Korean War begins with the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

1950   Korean War: Troops from the People's Republic of China launch a massive counterattack in North Korea against South Korean and United Nations forces (the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir), ending any hopes of a quick end to the conflict.

1960   Students in South Korea hold a nationwide pro-democracy protest against their president Syngman Rhee, eventually forcing him to resign.

1973   Kim Dae-Jung, a South Korean politician and later president of South Korea, is kidnapped.

1974   Yuk Young-soo, First Lady of South Korea, is killed during an apparent assassination attempt upon President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee.

1974   Yuk Young-soo, First Lady of South Korea, is killed during an apparent assassination attempt upon President of South Korea, Park Chung-hee.

1974   78 die when the Time Go-Go Club in Seoul, South Korea burns down. Six of the victims jumped to their deaths from the seventh floor after a club official barred the doors after the fire started.

 
Encyclopedia
The Republic of Korea (ROK, Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

: , Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

: , tɛːhanminɡuk̚), (commonly known as South Korea ), is a sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

) to the west, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 to the east, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 to the north, and the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

 and Republic of China (Taiwan)
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 to the south. South Korea lies in a humid continental
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

 and humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square kilometers and has a population of almost . The capital and largest city is Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, with a population of 10,421,782.

Archaeological findings show that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period
Lower Paleolithic
The Lower Paleolithic is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the...

. Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon
Gojoseon
Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom. Go , meaning "ancient," distinguishes it from the later Joseon Dynasty; Joseon, as it is called in contemporaneous writings, is also romanized as Chosŏn....

 in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

 under Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 668 AD, Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 went through the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire
Korean Empire
The Greater Korean Empire was an empire of Korea that succeeded the Joseon Dynasty.In October 1897, Emperor Gojong proclaimed the new entity at Gyeongungung Palace and oversaw the partially successful modernization of the military, economy, land system, education system, and various industries...

 in 1910, when Korea was annexed by Japan. After liberation and occupation
Division of Korea
The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship...

 by Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the nation was divided into North and South Korea. The latter was established in 1948 as a democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, though political turmoil, and periods of military rule and martial law, were to characterize much of the period until the foundation of the Sixth Republic in 1987.

After the invasion of South Korea by forces from the North on , the resulting war
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 between the two Koreas ended with an Armistice Agreement, but the border between the two nations is the most heavily fortified in the world. After the war, the South Korean economy
Economy of South Korea
South Korea has a market economy which ranks 15th in the world by nominal GDP and 12th by purchasing power parity , identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a high-income developed country, with a developed market, and is a member of OECD...

 grew significantly and the country had transformed into a major economy
G-20 major economies
The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by the European Central Bank...

, a full democracy
Democracy Index
The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit that claims to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 165 are UN member states...

, and a regional power
Regional power
In international relations, a regional power is a state that has power within a geographic region. States which wield unrivaled power and influence within a region of the world possess regional hegemony.-Characteristics:...

 in East Asia.

South Korea is a presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 consisting of sixteen administrative divisions
Administrative divisions of South Korea
||South Korea is divided into 8 provinces , 1 special autonomous province , 6 metropolitan cities , and 1 special city...

 and is a developed country
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

 with a very high standard of living. It is Asia's fourth largest economy and the world's 15th (nominal
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

) or 12th (purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

) largest economy. The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, automobile
Automotive industry
The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, and is one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue....

s, ship
Shipbuilding
Shipbuilding is the construction of ships and floating vessels. It normally takes place in a specialized facility known as a shipyard. Shipbuilders, also called shipwrights, follow a specialized occupation that traces its roots to before recorded history.Shipbuilding and ship repairs, both...

s, machinery, petrochemical
Petrochemical
Petrochemicals are chemical products derived from petroleum. Some chemical compounds made from petroleum are also obtained from other fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas, or renewable sources such as corn or sugar cane....

s and robotics
Robotics
Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots...

. South Korea is a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, WTO, OECD and G-20 major economies
G-20 major economies
The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by the European Central Bank...

. It is also a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...

.

Before the division



Korean history begins with the founding of Jo-seon (often known as "Gojoseon
Gojoseon
Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom. Go , meaning "ancient," distinguishes it from the later Joseon Dynasty; Joseon, as it is called in contemporaneous writings, is also romanized as Chosŏn....

" to prevent confusion with another dynasty founded in the 14th century; the prefix Go- means 'old' or 'earlier') in 2333 BC by Dangun
Dangun
Dangun Wanggeom was the legendary founder of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, around present-day Liaoning, Manchuria, and the Korean Peninsula. He is said to be the "grandson of heaven", and to have founded the kingdom in 2333 BC...

, according to Korean foundation mythology. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled northern Korean Peninsula and some parts of Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

. After many conflicts with the Chinese Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo
Buyeo kingdom
Buyeo or Puyŏ , Fuyu in Chinese, was an ancient Korean kingdom located from today's Manchuria to northern North Korea, from around the 2nd century BC to 494. Its remnants were absorbed by the neighboring and brotherhood kingdom of Goguryeo in 494...

, Okjeo
Okjeo
Okjeo was Korean tribal state which arose in the northern Korean peninsula from perhaps 2nd century BCE to 5th century CE.Dong-okjeo occupied roughly the area of the Hamgyŏng provinces of North Korea, and Buk-okjeo occupied the Duman River region.Dong-okjeo was often simply called Okjeo, while...

, Dongye
Dongye
Dongye, which means the Eastern Ye, was a Korean chiefdom which occupied portions of the northeastern Korean peninsula from roughly 3rd-century BCE to around early 5th-century. It bordered Goguryeo and Okjeo to the north, Jinhan to the south, and China's Lelang Commandery to the west...

, and the Samhan
Samhan
The Samhan period of Korean history comprises confederacies of Mahan, Jinhan, and Byeonhan in central and southern Korean peninsula, during the final century BCE and the early centuries CE....

 confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various states, Goguryeo
Goguryeo
Goguryeo or Koguryŏ was an ancient Korean kingdom located in present day northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula, southern Manchuria, and southern Russian Maritime province....

, Baekje
Baekje
Baekje or Paekche was a kingdom located in southwest Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla....

, and Silla
Silla
Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and one of the longest sustained dynasties in...

 grew to control the peninsula as Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

 in 676 led to the North South States Period
North South States Period
North South States Period refers to the period in Korean history when Silla and Balhae coexisted in the south and north of the peninsula, respectively.-Unified Silla:...

, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

, while Balhae
Balhae
Balhae was a Manchurian kingdom established after the fall of Goguryeo. After Goguryeo's capital and southern territories fell to Unified Silla, Dae Jo-yeong, a Mohe general, whose father was Dae Jung-sang, established Jin , later called Balhae.Balhae occupied southern parts of Manchuria and...

 succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo.

In Unified Silla
Unified Silla
Unified Silla or Later Silla is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, when it conquered Baekje in 660 and Goguryeo in 668, unifying the southern portion of the Korean peninsula...

, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture thrived. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

 in 935. Balhae
Balhae
Balhae was a Manchurian kingdom established after the fall of Goguryeo. After Goguryeo's capital and southern territories fell to Unified Silla, Dae Jo-yeong, a Mohe general, whose father was Dae Jung-sang, established Jin , later called Balhae.Balhae occupied southern parts of Manchuria and...

, Silla's neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russian Far East. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

The peninsula was united by Emperor Taejo
Taejo of Goryeo
Taejo of Goryeo was the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th to the 14th century. Taejo ruled from 918 to 943.-Background:...

 of Goryeo
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

 in 936. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji
Jikji
Jikji is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, whose title can be translated "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings". Printed during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377, it is the world's oldest extant movable metal print book...

 in 1377, using the world's oldest movable metal type printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

. The Mongol invasions
Mongol invasions of Korea
The Mongol invasions of Korea consisted of a series of campaigns by the Mongol Empire against Korea, then known as Goryeo, from 1231 to 1270...

 in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. After nearly 30 years of war, Goryeo continued to rule Korea, though as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the Mongolian Empire collapsed, severe political strife followed and the Goryeo Dynasty was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye
Taejo of Joseon
Taejo of Joseon , born Yi Seong-gye, whose changed name is Yi Dan, was the founder and the first king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea, and the main figure in overthrowing the Goryeo Dynasty...

.
King Taejo declared the new name of Korea as "Joseon" in reference to Gojoseon
Gojoseon
Gojoseon was an ancient Korean kingdom. Go , meaning "ancient," distinguishes it from the later Joseon Dynasty; Joseon, as it is called in contemporaneous writings, is also romanized as Chosŏn....

, and moved the capital to Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

 by King Sejong the Great
Sejong the Great of Joseon
Sejong the Great was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. During his regency, he reinforced Korean Confucian policies and executed major legal amendments . He also used the creation of Hangul and the advancement of technology to expand his territory...

 in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 in the country.

Between 1592 and 1598, the Japanese invaded Korea. Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period. He unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle...

 led the forces and tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was eventually repelled by the Righteous army
Righteous army
Righteous armies, sometimes called irregular armies or militias, have appeared several times in Korean history, when the national armies were in need of assistance....

 and assistance from Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 China. This war also saw the rise of Admiral Yi Sun-sin
Yi Sun-sin
Yi Sun-shin was a Korean naval commander, famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Imjin war in the Joseon Dynasty, and is well-respected for his exemplary conduct on and off the battlefield not only by Koreans, but by Japanese Admirals as well...

 and his renowned "turtle ship
Turtle ship
The Turtle ship, also known as Geobukseon or Kobukson , was a type of large warship belonging to the Panokseon class in Korea that was used intermittently by the Royal Korean Navy during the Joseon Dynasty from the early 15th century up until the 19th century.The first references to older, first...

". In the 1620s and 1630s, Joseon suffered from invasions by the Manchu who eventually conquered all of China.

After another series of wars against Manchuria
Second Manchu invasion of Korea
The second Manchu invasion of Korea occurred in 1636, when the Manchu Qing Empire brought Korea's Joseon dynasty into submission. It followed the first Manchu invasion of Korea of 1627.-Background:...

, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo
Yeongjo of Joseon
Yeongjo was the twenty-first king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. He was the second son of Sukjong by Lady Suk-bin of the Choi clan , succeeded his older brother Gyeongjong.-Reign:...

 and King Jeongjo
Jeongjo of Joseon
King Jeongjo was the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. He made various attempts to reform and improve the nation of Joseon. He was preceded by his grandfather King Yeongjo and succeeded by his son King Sunjo...

 particularly led a new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty.

However, the latter years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by a dependence on China for external affairs and isolation from the outside world. During the 19th century, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the name the "Hermit Kingdom
Hermit kingdom
Hermit kingdom is a pejorative term applied to any country or society which willfully walls itself off from the rest of the world. The Joseon Dynasty of Korea was frequently described as a hermit kingdom during the latter part of the dynasty...

". The Joseon Dynasty tried to protect itself against Western imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

, but was eventually forced to open trade. After the First Sino-Japanese War
First Sino-Japanese War
The First Sino-Japanese War was fought between Qing Dynasty China and Meiji Japan, primarily over control of Korea...

 and the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, Korea was occupied by Japan
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 (1910–1945). At the end of World War II, the Japanese surrendered to Soviet and U.S. forces who occupied the northern and southern halves of Korea, respectively.

After the division


Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration
Cairo Declaration
The Cairo Declaration was the outcome of the Cairo Conference in Cairo, Egypt, on November 27, 1943. President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China were present...

, escalating Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 antagonism between the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the United States eventually led to the establishment of separate governments, each with its own ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

, leading to Korea's division
Division of Korea
The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship...

 into two political entities in 1948: North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and South Korea. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 gained power through Soviet support, and in the South, an exiled and right-wing Korean political leader, Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

, was installed as president.

On 25 June 1950, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 invaded South Korea, sparking the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, the Cold War's first major conflict. At the time, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 had boycotted the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN), thus forfeiting their veto rights. This allowed the UN to intervene in a civil war when it became apparent that the superior North Korean forces would unify the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the later participation of millions of Chinese troops
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

. After huge advances on both sides, and massive losses among Korean civilians in both the north and the south, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, resulting in the two countries remaining technically at war. At least people died during the Korean War.
In 1960, a student uprising
April Revolution
The April Revolution, sometimes called the April 19 Revolution or April 19 Movement, was a popular uprising in April 1960, led by labor and student groups, which overthrew the autocratic First Republic of South Korea under Syngman Rhee. It led to the peaceful resignation of Rhee and the transition...

 (the "4.19 Revolution") led to the resignation of the autocratic President Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

. A period of political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee
Park Chung-hee
Park Chung-hee was a Republic of Korea Army general and the leader of South Korea from 1961 to 1979. He seized power in a military coup and ruled until his assassination in 1979. He has been credited with the industrialization of the Republic of Korea through export-led growth...

's military coup
Supreme Council for National Reconstruction
The Supreme Council for National Reconstruction, initially named the Revolutionary Committee, was a military junta that oversaw the government of South Korea from May 16, 1961 until the inauguration of the Third Republic of South Korea in 1963...

 (the "5.16 coup d'état") against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth
Export-oriented industrialization
Export-oriented Industrialization sometimes called export substitution industrialization or export led industrialization is a trade and economic policy aiming to speed up the industrialization process of a country by exporting goods for which the nation has a comparative advantage...

 as well as severe political repression. Park was heavily criticised as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.

The years after Park's assassination were marked again by political turmoil, as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1979 there was Coup d'état of December Twelfth
Coup d'état of December Twelfth
The Coup d'état of December Twelfth or the "12.12 Military Insurrection" was a military coup d'état which took place on December 12, 1979 in South Korea....

 by General Chun Doo-hwan
Chun Doo-hwan
Chun Doo-hwan was a ROK Army general and the President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. Chun was sentenced to death in 1996 for his heavy-handed response to the Gwangju Democratization Movement, but later pardoned by President Kim Young-sam with the advice of then President-elect Kim Dae-jung,...

. After the Coup d'état, Chun Doo-hwan planned to rise to power with several measures. On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. Chun assumed the presidency by the event of May 17, triggering nationwide protests demanding democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

, in particular in the city of Gwangju
Gwangju
Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister...

, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement.

Chun subsequently created the National Defense Emergency Policy Committee and took the presidency according to his political plan. Chun and his government held Korea under a despotic rule until 1987, when a Seoul National University
Seoul National University
Seoul National University , colloquially known in Korean as Seoul-dae , is a national research university in Seoul, Korea, ranked 24th in the world in publications in an analysis of data from the Science Citation Index, 7th in Asia and 42nd in the world by the 2011 QS World University Rankings...

 student, Park Jong-chul, was tortured to death. On , the Catholic Priests Association for Justice
Catholic Priests Association for Justice
Catholic Priests' Association for Justice is a South Korean association of Catholic priests, whose aim is to establish justice in Korea. It was established on September 26, 1974 as an attempt to resist against military regime of Park Chung-hee...

 revealed the incident, igniting huge demonstrations
June Democracy Movement
The June Democracy Movement was a nation-wide democracy movement in South Korea that generated mass protests from June 10 to June 29, 1987...

 around the country. Eventually, Chun's party, the Democratic Justice Party
Democratic Justice Party
The Democratic Justice Party was the ruling party of South Korea from 1980 to 1990.It was formed in 1980 as the Democratic Republican Party and was the political vehicle for Chun Doo-hwan....

, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo
Roh Tae-woo
Roh Tae-woo , is a former ROK Army general and politician. He was the 13th president of South Korea .Roh befriended Chun Doo-hwan while in high school in Daegu. In his younger life, Roh was a keen rugby union player....

 announced the 6.29 Declaration, which included the direct election of the president. Roh went on to win the election by a narrow margin against the two main opposition leaders, Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Young-Sam
Kim Young-sam
Kim Young-sam was a South Korean politician and democratic activist. From 1961, he spent 30 years as South Korea's leader of the opposition, and one of Park Chung-hee's most powerful rivals....

.

In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics
1988 Summer Olympics
The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were an all international multi-sport events celebrated from September 17 to October 2, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics...

. It became a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996. It was adversely affected by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. However, the country was able to recover and continue its economic growth, albeit at a slower pace.

In June 2000, as part of president Kim Dae-Jung's "Sunshine Policy
Sunshine policy
The Sunshine Policy was the foreign policy of South Korea towards North Korea until Lee Myung-bak's election to presidency in 2008. Since its articulation in 1998 by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the policy resulted in greater political contact between the two nations and some historical...

" of engagement, a North–South summit
Inter-Korean Summit
Inter-Korean Summits are meetings between the leaders of North Korea and South Korea. There have been two major meetings in the last decade, the first in 2000 and the second in 2007. The importance of these summits lies in the lack of formal communication between North and South Korea, which...

 took place in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, the capital of North Korea. Later that year, Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

 "for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular."

In 2002, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

, however South Korean and Japanese relations later soured due to conflicting claims of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 over the Liancourt Rocks
Liancourt Rocks
The Liancourt Rocks, also known as Dokdo or Tokto in Korean or in Japanese, are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan . Sovereignty over the islets is disputed between Japan and South Korea...

 ("Dokdo" in Korea), in what became known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute
Liancourt Rocks dispute
The Liancourt Rocks dispute is a territorial dispute between the Republic of Korea and Japan.Currently both the Republic of Korea and Japan claim sovereignty over Liancourt Rocks, a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan...

.

Government




Under its current constitution the state is sometimes referred to as the Sixth Republic of South Korea
Sixth Republic of South Korea
The Sixth Republic of South Korea is the country's present-day government. It began in 1987, with the transfer of power from the authoritarian Fifth Republic of Chun Doo-hwan....

. Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, judicial
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

, and legislative
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy.

The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea
Constitution of the Republic of Korea
The Constitution of the Republic of Korea is its basic law. It was promulgated on July 17, 1948, and last revised in 1987.- History :...

. This document has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948 at independence. However, it has retained many broad characteristics and with the exception of the short-lived Second Republic of South Korea
Second Republic of South Korea
The Second Republic of South Korea was the government of South Korea for eight months in 1960 and 1961. It succeeded the First Republic, but was followed by a military government under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction.-Establishment:...

, the country has always had a presidential system with an independent chief executive. The first direct election
Elections in South Korea
Elections in South Korea are held on national level to select the President and the National Assembly.The president is directly elected for a single five-year term by plurality vote. The National Assembly has 299 members elected for a four-year term, 245 in single-seat constituencies and 54 members...

 was also held in 1948. Although South Korea experienced a series of military dictatorships since the 1960s up until the 1980s, it has since developed into a successful liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

. Today, the CIA World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

 describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy".

Administrative divisions


See also Special cities of Korea
Special cities of Korea
In both North and South Korea, a special city, a metropolitan city, or a directly governed city is a city that has a status equivalent to that of a province...

 and Provinces of Korea
Provinces of Korea
This article describes the historical development of Korea's provinces . For detailed information on current administrative divisions, please see Administrative divisions of North Korea and Administrative divisions of South Korea....


The major administrative divisions in South Korea are provinces, metropolitan cities (self-governing cities that are not part of any province), and one special city.
Map NameaHangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

Special city (Teukbyeolsi)a
1 Seoul-teukbyeolsi
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

b 10,421,782
Metropolitan cities (Gwangyeoksi)a
2 Busan-gwangyeoksi
Busan
Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

3,635,389
3 Daegu-gwangyeoksi
Daegu
Daegu , also known as Taegu, and officially the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the...

2,512,604
4 Incheon-gwangyeoksi
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

2,628,000
6 Daejeon-gwangyeoksi
Daejeon
Daejeon is South Korea's fifth largest metropolis and the provincial capital of Chungnam. Located in the center of the country, Daejeon had a population of over 1.5 million in 2010. It is at the crossroads of Gyeongbu railway, Honam railway, Gyeongbu Expressway, and Honam Expressway. Within the...

1,442,857
5 Gwangju-gwangyeoksi
Gwangju
Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister...

1,456,308
7 Ulsan-gwangyeoksi
Ulsan
Ulsan , officially the Ulsan Metropolitan City, is South Korea's seventh largest metropolis with a population of over 1.1 million. It is located in the south-east of the country, neighboring Busan to the south and facing Gyeongju to the north and the Sea of Japan to the east.Ulsan is the...

1,087,958
Provinces (Do)a
8 Gyeonggi-do
Gyeonggi-do
Gyeonggi-do is the most populous province in South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Suwon. Seoul—South Korea's largest city and national capital—is located in the heart of the province, but has been separately administered as a provincial-level special city since 1946...

10,415,399
9 Gangwon-do
Gangwon-do (South Korea)
Gangwon-do is a province of South Korea, with its capital at Chuncheon. Before the division of Korea in 1945, Gangwon and its North Korean neighbour Kangwŏn formed a single province.-History:...

1,592,000
10 Chungcheongbuk-do
Chungcheongbuk-do
Chungcheongbuk-do is a province in the centre of South Korea. It was formed in 1896 from the northeastern half of the former Chungcheong province...

 (Northern Chungcheong)
1,462,621
11 Chungcheongnam-do
Chungcheongnam-do
Chungcheongnam-do or Chungnam is a province in the west of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the south-western half of the former Chungcheong Province and remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, thereafter becoming part of South Korea...

 (Southern Chungcheong)
1,840,410
12 Jeollabuk-do
Jeollabuk-do
Jeollabuk-do is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the northern half of the former Jeolla province, and remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea...

 (Northern Jeolla)
1,890,669
13 Jeollanam-do
Jeollanam-do
Jeollanam-do is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the southern half of the former Jeolla province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea...

 (Southern Jeolla)
1,994,287
14 Gyeongsangbuk-do
Gyeongsangbuk-do
Gyeongsangbuk-do or shortly Gyeongbuk is a province in eastern South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the northern half of the former Gyeongsang province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea.The Gyeongsangbuk-do Office is...

 (Northern Gyeongsang)
2,775,890
15 Gyeongsangnam-do
Gyeongsangnam-do
Gyeongsangnam-do is a province in the southeast of South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Changwon. It contains the major metropolitan center and port of Busan. Located there is UNESCO World Heritage Site Haeinsa, a Buddhist temple that houses the Tripitaka Koreana and attracts many...

 (Southern Gyeongsang)
2,970,929
Special self-governing province (Teukbyeoljachi-do)a
16 Jeju-teukbyeoljachi-do
Jeju-do
Jeju-do is the only special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946...

 (Jeju-do)
560,000


Foreign relations



South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with more than 188 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 assumed the post of UN Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations....

. It has also developed links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Association of Southeast Asian Nations
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly abbreviated ASEAN rarely ), is a geo-political and economic organization of ten countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has...

 as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...

 (EAS).

In 2010, South Korea and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 concluded a free trade agreement
European Union-Korea Free Trade Agreement
The European Union – South Korea Free Trade Agreement is a free trade agreement between the European Union and South Korea. The agreement was signed on 15 October 2009...

 (FTA) to reduce trade barriers. South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada, and another with New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. In November 2009 South Korea joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee
Development Assistance Committee
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee is a forum for selected OECD member states to discuss issues surrounding aid, development and poverty reduction in developing countries...

, marking the first time a former aid recipient country joined the group as a donor member. South Korea hosted the G-20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010.

China



Historically, Korea has had close relations with China. Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters worked with Chinese soldiers during the Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the People's Republic of China embraced Maoism
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

 while South Korea sought close relations with the United States. The PRC assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and the PRC almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually and South Korea and the PRC re-established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and South Korean–Chinese relations have improved steadily since 1992. The Republic of Korea broke off official relations with the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 upon gaining official relations with the People's Republic of China.

European Union


The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 (EU) and South Korea are important trading partners, having negotiated a free trade agreement for many years since South Korea was designated as a priority FTA partner in 2006. The free trade agreement was approved in September 2010, and took effect on July 1, 2011. South Korea is the EU's eighth largest trade partner, and the EU has become South Korea's second largest export destination. EU trade with South Korea exceeded €65 billion in 2008 and has enjoyed an annual average growth rate of 7.5% between 2004 and 2008.

The EU has been the single largest foreign investor in South Korea since 1962, and accounted for almost 45% of all FDI inflows into Korea in 2006. Nevertheless, EU companies have significant problems accessing and operating in the South Korean market due to stringent standards and testing requirements for products and services often creating barriers to trade. Both in its regular bilateral contacts with South Korea and through its FTA with Korea, the EU is seeking to improve this situation.

Japan




Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the end of World War II, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea
Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea
The Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed on June 22, 1965 to establish basic relationship between Japan and the Republic of Korea .-History:...

 in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea
Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea
The Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea is complex and multi-faceted. Anti-Japanese sentiment attitudes in the Korea can be traced back to the effects of Japanese pirate raids and the Japanese invasions of Korea , such as dismembering more than 20,000 noses and ears from Koreans and bringing them back...

 due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 after the Japanese annexation of Korea. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

. Korean women were forced to the war front to serve the Imperial Japanese Army as sexual slaves, called comfort women
Comfort women
The term "comfort women" was a euphemism used to describe women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 from some Japanese scholars to as high as 410,000 from some Chinese...

.

Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes
Japanese war crimes
Japanese war crimes occurred during the period of Japanese imperialism, primarily during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. Some of the incidents have also been described as an Asian Holocaust and Japanese war atrocities...

 against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine
Yasukuni Shrine
is a Shinto shrine located in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is dedicated to the soldiers and others who died fighting on behalf of the Emperor of Japan. Currently, its Symbolic Registry of Divinities lists the names of over 2,466,000 enshrined men and women whose lives were dedicated to the service of...

 honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war (including some class A war criminals), the re-writing of Japanese textbooks
Japanese history textbook controversies
Japanese history textbook controversies refers to controversial content in government-approved history textbooks used in the secondary education of Japan...

 related to Japanese acts during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks
Liancourt Rocks
The Liancourt Rocks, also known as Dokdo or Tokto in Korean or in Japanese, are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan . Sovereignty over the islets is disputed between Japan and South Korea...

 (South Korean official name: Dokdo) continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. Although Dokdo is claimed by both Korea and Japan, the islets are administered by South Korea, which has its Korean Coast Guard stationed there.

In response to then-Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Japan
The is the head of government of Japan. He is appointed by the Emperor of Japan after being designated by the Diet from among its members, and must enjoy the confidence of the House of Representatives to remain in office...

 Junichiro Koizumi
Junichiro Koizumi
is a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. He retired from politics when his term in parliament ended.Widely seen as a maverick leader of the Liberal Democratic Party , he became known as an economic reformer, focusing on Japan's government debt and the...

's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, former President
President of South Korea
The President of the Republic of Korea is, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, chief executive of the government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the head of state of the Republic of Korea...

 Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan.

North Korea



Both North
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace. On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

 signed an eight-point agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.

Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests
North Korean missile tests
There have been a number of North Korean missile tests. It has also fired a number of short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan , apparently as political gestures.* 2009 North Korean missile test...

 in 1993, 1998, 2006
2006 North Korean nuclear test
The 2006 North Korean nuclear test was the detonation of a nuclear device conducted on October 9, 2006 by North Korea.North Korea announced its intention to conduct a test on October 3, six days prior, and in doing so became the first nation to give warning of its first nuclear test...

 and 2009
2009 North Korean nuclear test
The 2009 North Korean nuclear test was the underground detonation of a nuclear device conducted on 25 May 2009 by North Korea. This was its second nuclear test, the first test having taken place in October 2006. Following the nuclear test, Pyongyang also conducted several missile tests.The test was...

. , relationships between North and South Korea were very tense; North Korea had been reported to have deployed missiles, ended its former agreements with South Korea, and threatened South Korea and the United States not to interfere with a satellite launch it had planned.
North and South Korea are still technically at war (having never signed a peace treaty after the Korean War) and share the world's most heavily fortified border. On May 27, 2009, North Korean media declared that the Armistice is no longer valid due to the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative
Proliferation Security Initiative
The Proliferation Security Initiative is a global effort that aims to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction , their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Launched by United States President George W...

. To further complicate and intensify strains between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan
ROKS Cheonan sinking
The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...

 in March 2010, is affirmed by the South Korean government to have been caused by a North Korean torpedo, which the North denies. President Lee Myung-bak declared in May 2010 that Seoul would cut all trade with North Korea as part of measures primarily aimed at striking back at North Korea diplomatically and financially, except for the joint Kaesong Industrial Project, and humanitarian aid. North Korea initially threatened to sever all ties, to completely abrogate the previous pact of non-aggression, and to expel all South Koreans from a joint industrial zone in Kaesong
Kaesong Industrial Region
Kaesŏng Industrial Region is a special administrative industrial region of North Korea. It was formed in 2002 from part of Kaesŏng Directly Governed City.-Kaesŏng Industrial Park:...

, but backtracked on its threats and decided to continue its ties with South Korea. But despite the continuing ties, Kaesong industrial zone has seen a large decrease in investment and manpower as a result of this military conflict.

Timeline for 2010
  • 26 March: South Korean warship Cheonan sinks
    ROKS Cheonan sinking
    The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...

    , killing 46 sailors
  • 20 May: Panel says a North Korean torpedo sank the ship; Pyongyang denies involvement
  • July–September: South Korea and US hold military exercises; US places more sanctions on Pyongyang
  • 29 September: North holds rare party congress seen as part of father-to-son succession move
  • 29 October: Troops from North and South Korea exchange fire across the land border
  • 12 November: North Korea shows US scientist new – undeclared – uranium enrichment facility
  • 23 November: North shells island of Yeonpyeong
    Bombardment of Yeonpyeong
    The bombardment of Yeonpyeong was an artillery engagement between the North Korean military and South Korean forces stationed on Yeonpyeong Island on November 23, 2010. Following a South Korean regular artillery exercise at waters in the south, North Korean forces fired around 170 artillery shells...

    , killing four South Koreans

United States



The United States engaged in the decolonization of Korea (mainly in the South, with the Soviet Union engaged in North Korea) from Japan after World War II. After three years of military administration by the United States, the South Korean government was established. Upon the onset of the Korean War, U.S. forces were sent to defend South Korea against invasion by North Korea and later China. Following the Armistice, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to a "Mutual Defense Treaty", under which an attack on either party in the Pacific area would summon a response from both. In 1967, South Korea obliged the mutual defense treaty, by sending a large combat troop contingent to support the United States in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. The U.S. Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force
Seventh Air Force
The Seventh Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces . It is headquartered at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea....

, and U.S. Naval Forces Korea
Commander Naval Forces Korea
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea is a major shore command of the United States Navy that serves as the shore support agency for all U.S. Naval activity in South Korea. Known by the initials "CNFK", Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea is headquartered in Seoul on Yongsan Army Garrison and...

 are stationed in South Korea. The two nations have strong economic, diplomatic, and military ties, although they have at times disagreed with regard to policies towards North Korea, and with regard to some of South Korea's industrial activities that involve usage of rocket or nuclear technology. There had also been strong anti-American sentiment during certain periods, which has largely moderated in the modern day. In 2007, a free trade agreement known as the Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was reportedly signed between South Korea and the United States, but its formal implementation has been repeatedly delayed, pending approval by the legislative bodies of the two countries. On October 12, 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the long-stalled trade agreement with South Korea along with similar trade agreements with Colombia and Panama.

Military


A long history of invasions by neighbors and the unresolved tension with North Korea have prompted South Korea to allocate 2.6% of its GDP and 15% of all government spending to its military (Government share of GDP: 14.967%), while maintaining compulsory conscription for men. Consequently, South Korea has the world's sixth largest number of active troops, the world's second-largest number of reserve troops and the eleventh largest defense budget. The Republic of Korea, with a regular military force numbering regular personnel among a total national population of people, has the second highest number of soldiers per capita in the world, after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The South Korean military consists of the Army
Republic of Korea Army
The Republic of Korea Army is the largest of the military branches of the South Korean armed forces with 520,000 members as of 2010...

 (ROKA), the Navy
Republic of Korea Navy
The Republic of Korea Navy or the ROK Navy is the branch of the South Korean armed forces responsible for conducting naval operations and amphibious landing operations. The ROK Navy includes the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, which is a quasi-autonomous organization...

 (ROKN), the Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force
The Republic of Korea Air Force is the air force of South Korea...

 (ROKAF), and the Marine Corps
Republic of Korea Marine Corps
The Republic of Korea Marine Corps is the marine corps of the Republic of Korea...

 (ROKMC), and reserve forces. Many of these forces are concentrated near the Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

. All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically for a period of two years. Previously, Koreans of mixed race were exempt from military duty if they "look distinctively biracial", but such policy is potentially up for abolition pending further review by the Ministry of Defence.

In addition to male conscription in South Korea's sovereign military, 1000 Korean males are selected every year to serve two years in the KATUSA
KATUSA
KATUSA stands for Korean Augmentation To the United States Army. Qualified Korean draftees who demonstrate a high level of English fluency and aptitude via a standardized written exam may apply for a KATUSA slot...

 Program to further augment the USFK. In 2010, South Korea was spending
South Korean won
The won is the currency of South Korea. A single won is divided into 100 jeon, the monetary subunit. The jeon is no longer used for everyday transactions, and appears only in foreign exchange rates...

1.68 trillion in a cost-sharing agreement with the US to provide budgetary support to the US forces in Korea, on top the ₩29.6 trillion budget for its own military.

The South Korean army has 2,500 tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s in operation, including the K1A1 and K2 Black Panther, which form the backbone of the South Korean army's mechanized armor and infantry forces. A sizable arsenal of many artillery systems, including 1,700 self-propelled K55
M109 howitzer
The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s. It was upgraded a number of times to today's M109A6 Paladin...

 and K9 Thunder howitzers, and 680 helicopters and UAVs of numerous types, are assembled to provide additional fire, reconnaissance, and logistics support. South Korea's smaller but more advanced artillery force and wide range of airborne reconnaissance platforms are pivotal in the counter-battery suppression
Counter-battery fire
Counter-battery fire is a type of mission assigned to military artillery forces, which are given the task of locating and firing upon enemy artillery.-Background:...

 of North Korea's over-sized artillery force, which operates more than 13,000 artillery systems deployed in various state of fortification and mobility.

The South Korean navy
Republic of Korea Navy
The Republic of Korea Navy or the ROK Navy is the branch of the South Korean armed forces responsible for conducting naval operations and amphibious landing operations. The ROK Navy includes the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, which is a quasi-autonomous organization...

 has made its first major transformation into a blue-water navy through the formation of the Strategic Mobile Fleet, which includes a battle group of Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer
Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyer
Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin class destroyers are multipurpose destroyers of the Republic of Korea Navy. The lead ship of this class, ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sunshin, was launched in May 2002 and commissioned in December 2003...

s, Dokdo class amphibious assault ship, AIP-driven
Air-independent propulsion
Air-independent propulsion is a term that encompasses technologies which allow a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to access atmospheric oxygen. The term usually excludes the use of nuclear power, and describes augmenting or replacing the diesel-electric propulsion...

 Type 214 submarine
Type 214 submarine
The Type 214 is a diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH . It features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion system using Siemens polymer electrolyte membrane hydrogen fuel cells...

s, and King Sejong the Great class destroyers, which is equipped with the latest baseline of Aegis fleet-defense
Aegis combat system
The Aegis Combat System is an integrated naval weapons system developed by the Missile and Surface Radar Division of RCA, and now produced by Lockheed Martin...

 system that allows the ships to track and destroy multiple cruise missiles and ballistic missiles simultaneously, forming an integral part of South Korea's indigenous missile defense umbrella against the North Korean military's missile threat.

The South Korean air force
Republic of Korea Air Force
The Republic of Korea Air Force is the air force of South Korea...

 operates 840 aircrafts, making it world's ninth largest air force, including several types of advanced fighters like F-15K, heavily modified KF-16C/D, and the indigenous F/A-50
T-50 Golden Eagle
The T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and multirole fighters, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries beginning in the late 1990s. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world's few supersonic trainers...

, supported by well-maintained fleets of older fighters such as F-4E and KF-5E/F that still effectively serve the air force alongside the more modern aircraft. In an attempt to gain strength in terms of not just numbers but also modernity, the commissioning of four Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft, under Project Peace Eye for centralized intelligence gathering and analysis
C4ISTAR
In military usage, a number of abbreviations in the format C followed by additional letters are used, based on expanded versions of the abbreviation C2 - command and control.C2I stands for command, control, and intelligence....

 on a modern battlefield, will enhance the fighters' and other support aircraft's ability to perform their missions with awareness and precision.

On May 2011, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., South Korea's largest plane maker, signed a $400 million deal to sell 16 T-50 Golden Eagle
T-50 Golden Eagle
The T-50 Golden Eagle is a family of South Korean supersonic advanced trainers and multirole fighters, developed by Korea Aerospace Industries beginning in the late 1990s. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world's few supersonic trainers...

 trainer jets to Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, marking South Korea as the first time for the country in Asia to export supersonic jets.
From time to time, South Korea has sent its troops overseas to assist American forces. It has participated in most major conflicts that the United States has been involved in the past 50 years. South Korea dispatched 325,517 troops to fight alongside American, Australian, Filipino
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

ese soldiers in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, with a peak strength of 50,000. In 2004, South Korea sent 3,300 troops of the Zaytun Division
Zaytun Division
The Zaytun Division was a contingent of Republic of Korea Army troops operating in Northern Iraq from September 2004 to December 2008, carrying out peacekeeping and reconstruction tasks.-Formation:...

 to help re-building in northern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, and was the third largest contributor in the coalition forces
Multinational force in Iraq
The Multi-National Force – Iraq was a military command, led by the United States, which was responsible for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Multi-National Force – Iraq replaced the previous force, Combined Joint Task Force 7, on 15 May 2004, and was later itself reorganized into its successor, United...

 after only the US and Britain. Beginning in 2001, South Korea had so far deployed 24,000 troops in the Middle East region to support the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. A further 1,800 were deployed since 2007 to reinforce UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

.

The United States have stationed a substantial contingent of troop
Troop
A troop is a military unit, originally a small force of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron and headed by the troop leader. In many armies a troop is the equivalent unit to the infantry section or platoon...

s in South Korea since the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 to defend South Korea in case of East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

n military crises. There are approximately 28,500 U.S. Military personnel stationed in Korea
United States Forces Korea
United States Forces Korea refers to the ground, air and naval divisions of the United States armed forces stationed in South Korea....

, most of them serving one year of unaccompanied tours. The American troops, which primarily are assigned to the Eighth United States Army are stationed in installations at Osan
Osan
Osan is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea, approximately 35 km south of Seoul. The population of the city is around 120,000. The local economy is supported by a mix of agricultural and industrial enterprises....

, Yongsan, Dongducheon
Dongducheon
Dongducheon is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.The city located in the north of Seoul is strategically important for the defence of the Korean capital.The main camps of the US Second Infantry Division are located in the city with the division command at Uijeongbu City.-History:During...

, Sungbuk, Camp Humphreys
Camp Humphreys
Camp Humphreys or USAG-H is a medium-sized United States Army garrison located near Anjeong-ri and south of Pyeongtaek metropolitan area in South Korea. Camp Humphreys is located 55 miles south of Seoul and is one of the U.S. Army's fastest growing installations...

, and Daegu
Daegu
Daegu , also known as Taegu, and officially the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the...

. A still functioning UN Command
United Nations Command (Korea)
The United Nations Command is the unified command structure for the multinational military forces supporting the Republic of Korea during and after the Korean War...

 is technically the top of the chain of command
Chain of Command
Chain of Command may refer to:* Chain of command, in a military context, the line of authority and responsibility along which orders are passed* "Chain of Command" , the fifth episode of the first season of Beast Wars...

 of all forces in South Korea, including the US forces and the entire South Korean military – if a sudden escalation of war between North and South Korea were to occur the United States would assume control of the South Korean armed forces in all military and paramilitary moves. However, in September 2006, the Presidents of the United States and the Republic of Korea agreed that South Korea should assume the lead for its own defense. In early 2007, the U.S. Secretary of Defense and ROK Minister of National Defense determined that South Korea will assume wartime operational control of its forces on April 17, 2012. U.S. Forces Korea will transform into a new joint-warfighting command, provisionally described as Korea Command (KORCOM).

Geography


South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

, which extends some 1100 km (683.5 mi) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 to the west, and Sea of Japan
Sea of Japan
The Sea of Japan is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, between the Asian mainland, the Japanese archipelago and Sakhalin. It is bordered by Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. Like the Mediterranean Sea, it has almost no tides due to its nearly complete enclosure from the Pacific...

 (East Sea) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait
Korea Strait
The Korea Strait is a sea passage between South Korea and Japan, connecting the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan in the northwest Pacific Ocean...

 and the East China Sea
East China Sea
The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. It is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of 1,249,000 km² or 750,000 square miles.-Geography:...

.

The country, including all its islands, lies between latitudes 33°
33rd parallel north
The 33rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 33 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 39°N
39th parallel north
The 39th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 39 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 124°
124th meridian east
The meridian 124° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, Australia, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 130°E
130th meridian east
The meridian 130° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, Australia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Its total area is 100032 square kilometres (38,622.57 sq mi).

South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River
Nakdong River
The Nakdong River is the longest river in South Korea, and passes through major cities such as Daegu and Busan.-Geography:...

.

South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

. Lowland
Lowland
In physical geography, a lowland is any broad expanse of land with a general low level. The term is thus applied to the landward portion of the upward slope from oceanic depths to continental highlands, to a region of depression in the interior of a mountainous region, to a plain of denudation, or...

s, located primarily in the west and southeast, make up only 30% of the total land area.

About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea. Jeju-do
Jeju-do
Jeju-do is the only special autonomous province of South Korea, situated on and coterminous with the country's largest island. Jeju-do lies in the Korea Strait, southwest of Jeollanam-do Province, of which it was a part before it became a separate province in 1946...

 is located about 100 kilometres (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1845 square kilometres (712.4 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan
Hallasan
Hallasan is a shield volcano on Jeju Island of South Korea. Hallasan is the highest mountain of South Korea. The area around the mountain is a designated national park, the Hallasan National Park...

, an extinct volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

, reaches 1,950 meters (6,398 ft) above sea level
Above mean sea level
The term above mean sea level refers to the elevation or altitude of any object, relative to the average sea level datum. AMSL is used extensively in radio by engineers to determine the coverage area a station will be able to reach...

. The most eastern islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo
Ulleungdo
Ulleungdo is a South Korean island in the Sea of Japan . Formerly known as Dagelet to the Europeans, Ulleungdo is about 120 km east of the Korean Peninsula...

 and Liancourt Rocks
Liancourt Rocks
The Liancourt Rocks, also known as Dokdo or Tokto in Korean or in Japanese, are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan . Sovereignty over the islets is disputed between Japan and South Korea...

 (Dokdo), while Marado
Marado
Marado or Mara Island is a treeless island 8 km off the south coast of Jeju, in southernmost South Korea, having an area of 0.3 km². It is home to about 90 people, and has long been known for its population being composed of strong women and docile men...

 and Socotra Rock
Socotra Rock
Socotra Rock is a submerged rock 4.6 meters below sea level located in the East China Sea. The rock is the subject of a territorial dispute between South Korea, which considers it to lie within its exclusive economic zone, referring to it as Ieodo or Parangdo , and China, which considers it to...

 are the southernmost islands of South Korea.

South Korea has 20 national parks
National parks of South Korea
The national parks of South Korea are preserved parcels of public land in South Korea, on which most forms of development are prohibited. They cover a total of 3.7% of the country's area, and are typically located in mountainous or coastal regions...

 and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields
Boseong
Boseong County is a county in South Jeolla Province, South Korea. Boseong is famous for its green tea leaves. It is also the birthplace of the Korean independence activist Philip Jaisohn.-History:...

, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park
Suncheon Ecological Park
Suncheon Ecological Park is a protected natural area near Suncheon, South Korea. It is effectively a bay between Yeosu peninsula and Goheung peninsula. It is located 8 km from the center of Suncheon, and has 21.6㎢ of mudflats and 5.4㎢ of reed beds....

, and the first national park of Jirisan
Jirisan
Jirisan is a mountain in the southern region of South Korea. It is often considered one of the three most important mountains in South Korea , with Hallasan and Seoraksan being the other two....

.

Climate


South Korea tends to have a humid continental climate
Humid continental climate
A humid continental climate is a climatic region typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold winters....

 and a humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

, and is affected by the East Asian monsoon
East Asian monsoon
The East Asian monsoon is a monsoonal flow that carries moist air from the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean to East Asia. It affects approximately one-third of the global population, influencing the climate of Japan , the Koreas, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and much of mainland China...

, with precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma
East Asian rainy season
The East Asian rainy season, commonly called the plum rain , is caused by precipitation along a persistent stationary front known as the Meiyu front for nearly two months during the late spring and early summer between eastern China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan...

(장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −20 °C in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is −7 °C
Celsius
Celsius is a scale and unit of measurement for temperature. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius , who developed a similar temperature scale two years before his death...

 to 1 °C (19 °F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

 to 33 °F), and the average August temperature range is 22 °C to 30 °C (71 °F to 86 °F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid, with temperatures exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) in most parts of the country.
South Korea has four distinct seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring usually lasts from late-March to early- May, summer from mid-May to early-September, autumn from mid-September to early-November, and winter from mid-November to mid-March.

Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

 varies from 1,370 millimeters (54 inch
Inch
An inch is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including Imperial units, and United States customary units. There are 36 inches in a yard and 12 inches in a foot...

es) in Seoul to 1,470 millimeters (58 inches) in Busan
Busan
Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

. There are occasional typhoons that bring high winds and floods.

Environment





During the first 20 years of South Korea's growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment. Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat. However, there have been recent efforts to balance these problems, including a government run five-year green growth
Green growth
Green Growth is a term to describe a path of economic growth which uses natural resources in a sustainable manner. It is used globally to provide an alternative concept to standard economic growth...

 project that aims to boost energy efficiency and green technology.

The green-based economic strategy is a comprehensive overhaul of South Korea's economy, utilizing nearly two percent of the national GDP. The greening initiative includes such efforts as a nationwide bike network, solar and wind energy, lowering oil dependent vehicles, backing daylight savings and extensive usage of environmentally friendly technologies such as LEDs in electronics and lighting. The country – already the world's most wired – plans to build a nationwide next-generation network which will be 10 times faster than broadband facilities in order to reduce energy usage.

Seoul's tap water
Tap water
Tap water is a principal component of "indoor plumbing", which became available in urban areas of the developed world during the last quarter of the 19th century, and common during the mid-20th century...

 recently became safe to drink, with city officials branding it "Arisu" in a bid to convince the public. Efforts have also been made with afforestation
Afforestation
Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees in an area where there was no forest. Reforestation is the reestablishment of forest cover, either naturally or artificially...

 projects. Another multi-billion dollar project was the restoration of Cheonggyecheon
Cheonggyecheon
Cheonggyecheon is an 8.4 km long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development required it to be covered by transportation infrastructure...

, a stream running through downtown Seoul that had earlier been paved over by a motorway.
One major challenge is air quality, with acid rain, sulfur oxides, and annual yellow dust storms being particular problems. It is acknowledged that many of these difficulties are a result of South Korea's proximity to China, which is a major air polluter.

South Korea is a member of the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol
Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, also known as the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, or the Madrid Protocol, is part of the Antarctic Treaty System...

, Antarctic Treaty
Antarctic Treaty System
The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively called the Antarctic Treaty System or ATS, regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land...

, Biodiversity Treaty
Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity , known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty...

, Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

 (forming the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), regarding UNFCCC, with Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

), Desertification
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies...

, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes
Basel Convention
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, usually known simply as the Basel Convention, is an international treaty that was designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of...

, Law of the Sea
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea , also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea , which took place from 1973 through 1982...

, Marine Dumping
Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft
The Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft also called the Oslo Convention was an international agreement designed to control the dumping of harmful substances from ships and aircraft into the sea. It was adopted on February 15, 1972 in Oslo, Norway...

, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (not into force), Ozone Layer Protection
Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion...

, Ship Pollution
MARPOL 73/78
Marpol 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978....

, Tropical Timber 83
International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983
The International Tropical Timber Agreement is an agreement to provide an effective framework for cooperation between tropical timber producers and consumers and to encourage the development of national policies aimed at sustainable utilization and conservation of tropical forests and their...

, Tropical Timber 94
International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994
International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994 was drafted to ensure that by the year 2000 exports of tropical timber originated from sustainably managed sources and to establish a fund to assist tropical timber producers in obtaining the resources necessary to reach this objective.It defined the...

, Wetlands
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

, and Whaling
International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling
The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling is an international environmental agreement signed in 1946 in order to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry"...

.

Economy




South Korea has a market economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 which ranks 14th in the world by nominal GDP and 12th by purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 (PPP), identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies
G-20 major economies
The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies: 19 countries plus the European Union, which is represented by the President of the European Council and by the European Central Bank...

. It is a high-income developed country
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

 and is a member of OECD. South Korea is one of the Asian Tigers, and is the only developed country so far to have been included in the group of Next Eleven
Next Eleven
The Next Eleven are eleven countries—Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam — identified by Goldman Sachs investment bank and Jim O'Neill as having a high potential of becoming, along with the BRICS, the world's largest...

 countries. South Korea had one of the world's fastest growing economies from the early 1960s to the late 1990s, and South Korea is still one of the fastest growing developed countries in the 2000s, along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, the other three members of Asian Tigers. South Koreans refer to this growth as the Miracle on the Han River
Miracle on the Han River
Miracle on the Han River refers to South Korea's highly accelerated export-fueled economic growth, including rapid industrialization, technological achievement, education boom, exponential rise in living standards, rapid urbanization, skyscraper boom, modernization, successful hosting of the 1988...

. The South Korean economy is heavily dependent on international trade, and in 2010, South Korea was the sixth largest exporter and tenth largest importer in the world.

South Korea hosted the fifth G20 summit in its capital city Seoul, from November 11, 2010 to November 12, 2010. The two-day summit is expected to boost Korea's economy by 31 trillion won, or 4% of Korea's 2010 GDP, in economic effects, and create over 160,000 jobs in Korea. It may also help improve the country's sovereign credit rating
Credit rating
A credit rating evaluates the credit worthiness of an issuer of specific types of debt, specifically, debt issued by a business enterprise such as a corporation or a government. It is an evaluation made by a credit rating agency of the debt issuers likelihood of default. Credit ratings are...

.

Despite the South Korean economy's high growth potential and apparent structural stability, South Korea suffers perpetual damage to its credit rating in the stock market due to the belligerence of North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 in times of deep military crises, which has an adverse effect on the financial markets of the South Korean economy. However, renowned financial organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, also compliment the resilience of the South Korean economy against various economic crises, citing low state debt, and high fiscal reserves that can quickly be mobilized to address any expected financial emergencies. South Korea was one of the few developed countries that were able to avoid a recession
Recession
In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

 during the global financial crisis, and its economic growth rate reached 6.2 percent in 2010 (the fastest growth for eight years after significant growth by 7.2 percent in 2002), a sharp recovery from economic growth rates of 2.3% in 2008 and 0.2% in 2009 when the global financial crisis hit. The unemployment rate in South Korea also remained low in 2009 at 3.6%

Transportation and energy


South Korea has a market-oriented economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 with technologically advanced transportation network consisting of high-speed railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services, and air routes that criss-cross the country. Korea Expressway Corporation operates the toll highways and service amenities en route.

Korail
Korail
Korea Railroad Corporation , promoted as Korail , is the national railroad operator in South Korea.Korail operates passenger and freight trains throughout South Korea...

 provides frequent train service to all major South Korean cities. Two rail lines, Gyeongui
Gyeongui Line
The Gyeongui Line is one of the oldest railway lines in Korea. When opened in 1906 it linked Seoul in what is now South Korea to P'yŏngyang and Sinŭiju in what is now North Korea...

 and Donghae Bukbu Line
Donghae Bukbu Line
The Donghae Bukbu Line is a former railway line that connected the present-day city of Anbyon in Kangwon Province, North Korea, with Yangyang, Gangwon Province, South Korea. It has not carried trains since the division of Korea. The line originally connected to the Gyeongwon Line running from...

, to North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

 are now being reconnected. The Korean high-speed rail
High-speed rail
High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Specific definitions by the European Union include for upgraded track and or faster for new track, whilst in the United States, the U.S...

 system, KTX
Korea Train Express
Korea Train eXpress is South Korea's high-speed rail system, operated by Korail. Construction began on the first section of the high-speed line from Seoul to Busan in 1992. The project was later split into two phases and combined with conventional line upgrades, adding a second route from Seoul to...

, provides high-speed service along Gyeongbu
Gyeongbu Line
The Gyeongbu Line is the most important railway line in South Korea and one of the oldest. It was constructed by Japan in 1905, connecting Seoul to Suwon, Daejeon, Daegu, and Busan. The Gyeongbu Line is by far the most heavily travelled rail line in South Korea...

 and Honam Line
Honam Line
The Honam Line is a major railway line serving the Honam region in South Korea. The line is served by frequent passenger trains from Seoul to Gwangju and Mokpo.-History:...

. Major cities including Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, Busan
Busan
Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

, Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

, Daegu
Daegu
Daegu , also known as Taegu, and officially the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the...

, Daejeon
Daejeon
Daejeon is South Korea's fifth largest metropolis and the provincial capital of Chungnam. Located in the center of the country, Daejeon had a population of over 1.5 million in 2010. It is at the crossroads of Gyeongbu railway, Honam railway, Gyeongbu Expressway, and Honam Expressway. Within the...

 and Gwangju
Gwangju
Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister...

 have subway systems. Express bus terminals are available in most cities.

Construction of South Korea's largest airport, Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea, the primary airport serving the Seoul national capital area, and one of the largest and busiest airports in the world...

, was completed in 2001. By 2007, the airport was serving passengers a year. Other international airports include Gimpo
Gimpo International Airport
Gimpo International Airport , commonly known as Gimpo Airport , is located in the far western end of Seoul and was the main international airport for Seoul and South Korea before it was replaced by Incheon International Airport in 2001...

, Busan
Gimhae International Airport
Gimhae International Airport is located on the western end of Busan, South Korea. It opened in 1976. A new international terminal opened on October 31, 2007. Gimhae International Airport is the main hub for Air Busan...

 and Jeju
Jeju International Airport
Jeju International Airport Revised Romanization of Korean; Jeju Gukje Gonghang, McCune-Reischauer; Cheju Kukche Konghang) is the 3rd largest in South Korea, just behind Gimpo Airport in Seoul and Incheon Airport in Incheon. It is located in the city of Jeju...

. There are also seven domestic airports, and a large number of heliports.

Korean Air
Korean Air
Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd. , operating as Korean Air, is both the flag carrier and the largest airline of South Korea, with global headquarters located in Seoul, South Korea. Korean Air's international passenger division and related subsidiary cargo division together serve 130 cities in 45...

, founded in 1962, served 21,640,000 passengers, including 12,490,000 international passengers in 2008. A second carrier, Asiana Airlines
Asiana Airlines
Asiana Airlines Inc. is one of South Korea's two major airlines, along with Korean Air. Asiana has its headquarters in Asiana Town in Osoe-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul...

, established in 1988, also serves domestic and international traffic. Combined, South Korean airlines serve 297 international routes. Smaller airliners, such as Jeju Air
Jeju Air
Jeju Air is an airline based in Jeju City, Jeju-do, South Korea, offering scheduled domestic services between Jeju and the South Korean mainland out of Jeju International Airport or Gimpo International Airport, Seoul. Also, a number of regular charter flights is operated-History:Jeju Air was...

, provide domestic service with lower fares.

South Korea is the world's fifth largest nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 producer and the second-largest in Asia as of 2010. Nuclear power in South Korea
Nuclear power in South Korea
The total electrical generation capacity of the nuclear power plants of South Korea is 18.5 GWe from 21 reactors. This is 29.5% of South Korea's total electrical generation capacity, but 45% of total electrical consumption...

 supplies 45% of electricity production and research is very active with investigation into a variety of advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast/transmutation reactor and a high-temperature hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally. It is also a member of the ITER
ITER
ITER is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project, which is currently building the world's largest and most advanced experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor at Cadarache in the south of France...

 project.

South Korea is an emerging exporter of nuclear reactors, having concluded agreements with the UAE to build and maintain four advanced nuclear reactors, with Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 for a research nuclear reactor, and with Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 for construction and repair of heavy-water nuclear reactors. As of 2010, South Korea and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 are in negotiations regarding construction of two nuclear reactors. South Korea is also preparing to bid on construction of a light-water nuclear reactor for Argentina.

South Korea is not allowed to enrich uranium
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

 or develop traditional uranium enrichment technology on its own due to US political pressure, unlike most major nuclear powers such as Japan, Germany, and France, competitors of South Korea in the international nuclear market, providing a noticeable impediment to South Korea's indigenous nuclear industrial undertaking that has sparked occasional diplomatic rows between the two allies. While South Korea is successful in exporting its electricity-generating nuclear technology and nuclear reactors, it cannot capitalize on the market for nuclear enrichment facilities and refineries
Uranium market
The uranium market, like all commodity markets, has a history of volatility, moving not only with the standard forces of supply and demand, but also to whims of geopolitics. It has also evolved particularities of its own in response to the unique nature and use of this material.The only significant...

, preventing Korea from further expanding its export niche. South Korea has sought unique technologies such as pyroprocessing technology to circumvent these obstacles and seek a more advantageous competition. The US has recently been wary of South Korea's burgeoning nuclear program which South Korea insists will only be for civilian use.

Aerospace research



South Korea has sent up 10 satellites from 1992, all using foreign rockets and overseas launch pads, notably Arirang-1
Arirang-1
Arirang-1 or Arirang I is an unmanned artificial satellite created by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and launched by a US rocket on December 21, 1999. This was the first satellite built primarily by South Korean engineers, although previous foreign-built satellites had been launched by...

 in 1999, and Arirang-2
Arirang-2
Arirang-2, also known as KOMPSAT-2, is a South Korean multipurpose satellite. It was launched from Plesetsk, Russia at 4:05 PM KST on 28 July 2006. It began to transmit signals at 11 PM the same day. Like the earlier Arirang-1 satellite, it takes its name from the popular Korean folk song Arirang...

 in 2006 as part of its space partnership with Russia. Arirang-1 was lost in space in 2008, after nine years in service.

In April 2008, Yi So-yeon
Yi So-yeon
Yi So-yeon is a South Korean scientist and Ph.D. graduate of KAIST . On April 8, 2008, she became the first Korean and the second Asian woman to fly in space, after Chiaki Mukai.-Biography:Yi So-yeon was born to father Yi Gil-soo...

 became the first Korean to fly in space, aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-12
Soyuz TMA-12
Soyuz TMA-12 was a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station which was launched by a Soyuz FG rocket at 11:16 UTC on 8 April 2008. It docked to the Pirs module of the station on 10 April 2008. Landing occurred at 03:37 on 24 October...

.

In June 2009, the first spaceport
Spaceport
A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories...

 of South Korea, Naro Space Center, was completed at Goheung, Jeollanam-do
Jeollanam-do
Jeollanam-do is a province in the southwest of South Korea. The province was formed in 1896 from the southern half of the former Jeolla province, remained a province of Korea until the country's division in 1945, then became part of South Korea...

. The launch of Naro-1 in August 2009 resulted in a failure. The second attempt in June 2010 was also unsuccessful. The government plans to investigate the problems and develop Naro-2 by 2018.

South Korea's efforts to build an indigenous space launch vehicle is marred due to persistent political pressure of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, who had for many decades hindered South Korea's indigenous rocket and missile development programs in fear of their possible connection to clandestine military ballistic missile programs, which Korea many times insisted did not violate the research and development
Research and development
The phrase research and development , according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, refers to "creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of man, culture and society, and the use of this stock of...

 guidelines stipulated by US-Korea agreements on restriction of South Korean rocket technology research and development. South Korea has sought the assistance of foreign countries such as Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 through MTCR commitments to supplement its restricted domestic rocket technology. The two failed KSLV-I launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

s were based on the Universal Rocket Module, the first stage of the Russian Angara rocket
Angara rocket
The Angara rocket family is a family of space-launch vehicles currently under development by the Moscow-based Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center...

, combined with a solid-fueled second stage built by South Korea.

Robotics


Robotics
Robotics
Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, structural disposition, manufacture and application of robots...

 has been included in the list of main national R&D projects in Korea since 2003. In 2009, the government announced plans to build robot-themed parks in Incheon
Incheon Free Economic Zone
The Incheon Free Economic Zone , located in Incheon, South Korea consists of the three regions of Songdo, Cheongna, and the island of Yeongjong and has a total area of . The goal of the IFEZ is to transform these three areas into hubs for logistics, international business, leisure, and tourism for...

 and Masan
Masan
Masan was a formerly a municipal city in South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. The city was situated on Masan Bay , approximately 35 km west of Busan. It was known for its textile industry, and it was the site of Hite Brewery's production facilities.During the control of the Mongolians, the...

 with a mix of public and private funding.

In 2005, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed the world's second walking humanoid robot
Humanoid robot
A humanoid robot or an anthropomorphic robot is a robot with its overall appearance, based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots...

, HUBO
HUBO
HUBO is a walking humanoid robot, head mounted on a life-size walking bipedal frame, developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and released on January 6, 2005...

. A team in the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology developed the first Korean android, EveR-1
EveR-1
EveR-1 is a female android, developed by a team of South Korean scientists from the in Korea University of Science and Technology. The project is headed by Baeg Moon-hong and was unveiled to the public at in Seoul on May 4, 2003...

 in May 2006.
EveR-1 has been succeeded by more complex models with improved movement and vision.
Next models are scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Plans of creating English-teaching robot assistants to compensate for the shortage of teachers were announced in February 2010, with the robots being deployed to most preschools and kindergartens by 2013. Robotics are also incorporated in the entertainment sector as well; the Korean Robot Game Festival has been held every year since 2004 to promote science and robot technology.

Biotechnology


Since the 1980s, the Korean government has actively invested in the development of a domestic biotechnology
Biotechnology
Biotechnology is a field of applied biology that involves the use of living organisms and bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and other fields requiring bioproducts. Biotechnology also utilizes these products for manufacturing purpose...

 industry, and the sector is projected to grow to by 2010. The medical sector accounts for a large part of the production, including production of hepatitis vaccines
Hepatitis A vaccine
Hepatitis A vaccine is a vaccine against the hepatitis A virus. The first successful vaccine against it was invented by Maurice Hilleman at Merck. The vaccine protects against the virus in more than 95% of cases and provides protection from the virus for at least ten years...

 and antibiotic
Antibiotic
An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

s.

Recently, research and development in genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 and cloning
Cloning
Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments , cells , or...

 has received increasing attention, with the first successful cloning of a dog, Snuppy
Snuppy
Snuppy is an Afghan hound, credited with being the world's first cloned dog. The puppy was created using the cell of an ear from an adult Afghan hound and involved 123 surrogate mothers, of which only three produced pups...

, and the cloning of two females of an endangered species of wolves by the Seoul National University
Seoul National University
Seoul National University , colloquially known in Korean as Seoul-dae , is a national research university in Seoul, Korea, ranked 24th in the world in publications in an analysis of data from the Science Citation Index, 7th in Asia and 42nd in the world by the 2011 QS World University Rankings...

 in 2007.

The rapid growth of the industry has resulted in significant voids in regulation of ethics, as was highlighted by the scientific misconduct case involving Hwang Woo-Suk
Hwang Woo-Suk
Hwang Woo-suk is a South Korean veterinarian and researcher. He was a professor of theriogenology and biotechnology at Seoul National University who became infamous for fabricating a series of experiments, which appeared in high-profile journals, in the field of stem cell research...

.

Education


Education in South Korea is regarded as crucial to financial and social success, and competition is consequently fierce, with many participating in intense outside tutoring to supplement classes. In the 2006 results of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment
Programme for International Student Assessment
The Programme for International Student Assessment is a worldwide evaluation in OECD member countries of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years...

, South Korea came first in problem solving
Problem solving
Problem solving is a mental process and is part of the larger problem process that includes problem finding and problem shaping. Consideredthe most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as higher-order cognitive process that requires the modulation and control of...

, third in mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and seventh in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. South Korea's education system is technologically advanced and it is the world's first country to bring high-speed fibre-optic broadband
Broadband
The term broadband refers to a telecommunications signal or device of greater bandwidth, in some sense, than another standard or usual signal or device . Different criteria for "broad" have been applied in different contexts and at different times...

 internet access to every primary and secondary school nation-wide. Using this infrastructure, the country has developed the first Digital Textbook
Digital Textbook
The digital textbook program was announced by the Education Ministry of South Korea on March 8, 2007. The digital textbook is currently being tested in several primary schools and will be distributed free to every school nation-wide by 2013.-Definition:...

s in the world, which will be distributed for free to every primary and secondary school nation-wide by 2013.

A centralised administration in South Korea oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to the third and final year of high school. South Korea has adopted a new educational program to increase the number of their foreign students through 2010. According to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology estimate, by that time, the number of scholarships for foreign students in South Korea will be doubled, and the number of foreign students will reach 100,000.
The school year is divided into two semesters, the first of which begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July, the second of which begins in late August and ends in mid-February. The schedules are not uniformly standardized and vary from school to school.
Most South Korean middle schools and high schools have school uniforms, modeled on western-style uniforms. Boys' uniforms usually consists of trousers and white shirts, and girls wear skirts and white shirts.

Demographics



South Korea is noted for its population density, which is 487 per square kilometer, more than 10 times the global average. Most South Koreans live in urban areas, due to rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The capital city of Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. According to the 2005 census, Seoul had a population of inhabitants. The Seoul National Capital Area
Seoul National Capital Area
The Seoul National Capital Area is a region located in the north-west of South Korea. It is generally referred to as Sudogwon in Korean, and contains three different administrative districts; Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi-do....

 has inhabitants making it the world's second largest metropolitan area and easily the most densely populated city in the OECD. Other major cities include Busan
Busan
Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

 , Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

 , Daegu
Daegu
Daegu , also known as Taegu, and officially the Daegu Metropolitan City, is a city in South Korea, the fourth largest after Seoul, Busan, and Incheon, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country with over 2.5 million residents. The city is the capital and principal city of the...

 , Daejeon
Daejeon
Daejeon is South Korea's fifth largest metropolis and the provincial capital of Chungnam. Located in the center of the country, Daejeon had a population of over 1.5 million in 2010. It is at the crossroads of Gyeongbu railway, Honam railway, Gyeongbu Expressway, and Honam Expressway. Within the...

 , Gwangju
Gwangju
Gwangju is the sixth largest city in South Korea. It is a designated metropolitan city under the direct control of the central government's Home Minister...

  and Ulsan
Ulsan
Ulsan , officially the Ulsan Metropolitan City, is South Korea's seventh largest metropolis with a population of over 1.1 million. It is located in the south-east of the country, neighboring Busan to the south and facing Gyeongju to the north and the Sea of Japan to the east.Ulsan is the...

 .

The population has also been shaped by international migration. After World War II and the division of the Korean Peninsula
Division of Korea
The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship...

, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next 40 years due to emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. South Korea's total population in 1955 was , and today it is roughly 50,062,000.

South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world, with more than 99% of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity. Koreans call their society 단일민족국가, Dan-il minjok guk ga, "the single race society".

The percentage of foreign nationals is small but has been growing. , South Korea had 1,106,884 foreign residents, 2% of the population; however, more than half of them are ethnic Koreans with a foreign citizenship. For example, migrants from China (PRC) make up 56.5% of foreign nationals, but approximately 70% of the Chinese citizens in Korea are Joseonjok (조선족 in Korean), PRC citizens of Korean ethnicity.
Regardless of the ethnicity, there are 28,500 US military
United States Forces Korea
United States Forces Korea refers to the ground, air and naval divisions of the United States armed forces stationed in South Korea....

 personnel serving in South Korea for one year of unaccompanied tour, according to the Korea National Statistical Office. In addition, about 43,000 English teachers from English-speaking countries
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

 reside temporarily in Korea.

South Korea's birthrate was the world's lowest in 2009. If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13% to in 2050, South Korea's annual birthrate is approximately 9 births per 1000 people. However the birthrate has increased by 5.7% in 2010 and Korea no longer has the world's lowest birthrate . According to a 2011 report from Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21) . The average life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 in 2008 was 79.10 years, which is 34th in the world.

Cities


The table below lists the twenty largest cities within administrative city limits.

Religion



As of 2005, just under half of the South Korean population expressed no religious
Irreligion
Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

 preference. Of the rest, most are Buddhist
Korean Buddhism
Korean Buddhism is distinguished from other forms of Buddhism by its attempt to resolve what it sees as inconsistencies in Mahayana Buddhism. Early Korean monks believed that the traditions they received from foreign countries were internally inconsistent. To address this, they developed a new...

 or Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. According to the 2007 census, 29.2% of the population at that time was Christian (18.3% professed to being Protestants and 10.9% Catholics), and 22.8% were Buddhist. Other religions include Islam
Islam in Korea
In South Korea, the Muslim population has been steadily increasing since the introduction of the Islamic faith shortly after the Korean War. The Muslim community is centered around Seoul, where the first large 20th-century mosque was built in 1976 using the funds of the Malaysian Islamic Mission...

 and various new religious movement
New religious movement
A new religious movement is a religious community or ethical, spiritual, or philosophical group of modern origin, which has a peripheral place within the dominant religious culture. NRMs may be novel in origin or they may be part of a wider religion, such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, in...

s such as Jeungism, Cheondoism
Cheondoism
Cheondoism or Chondoism is a 20th-century Korean religious movement, based on the 19th century Donghak movement founded by Choe Je-u that had its origins in the peasant rebellions which arose starting in 1812 during the Joseon Dynasty...

 and Wonbuddhism. The earliest religion practiced was Korean shamanism
Korean shamanism
Korean shamanism, today known as Muism or sometimes Sinism , encompasses a variety of indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Korean people and the Korean area...

. Today, freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

.

Christianity is South Korea's largest religion, accounting for more than half of all South Korean religious adherents. There are approximately 13.7 million Christians in South Korea today, with almost two-thirds of Christians belonging to Protestant churches, while about 37% belong to the Catholic Church. Roman Catholicism has been the fastest growing denomination in South Korea since the late 1980s. South Korea is also the second-largest missionary-sending nation.

Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the year 372. According to the national census as of 2005, South Korea has over Buddhists. Today, about 90% of Korean Buddhists belong to Jogye Order
Jogye Order
The Jogye Order, officially the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism is the representative order of traditional Korean Buddhism with roots that date back 1,200 years to Unified Silla National Master Doui, who brought Seon and the practice taught by the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, from China about 820...

. Most of the National Treasures of South Korea
National treasures of South Korea
The National Treasures of Korea are a numbered set of tangible treasures, artifacts, sites, and buildings which are recognized by South Korea as having exceptional artistic, cultural and historical value...

 are Buddhist artifacts. Along with Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

, Buddhism was not being practiced during the periods from Three Kingdoms of Korea
Three Kingdoms of Korea
The Three Kingdoms of Korea refer to the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, which dominated the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria for much of the 1st millennium...

 to Goryeo
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

 before suppression under the Joseon Dynasty.

Islam in South Korea has an estimated less than 30,000 native followers, in addition to some 100,000 resident foreign workers from Muslim countries, particularly Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

Public health and safety


Although life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 has increased significantly since 1950, South Korea faces a number of important health-care issues. Foremost is the impact of environmental pollution on an increasingly urbanized population. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, chronic diseases account for the majority of diseases in South Korea, a condition exacerbated by the health care system's focus on treatment rather than prevention. The incidence of chronic disease in South Korea hovers around 24 percent. Approximately 33 percent of all adults smoke
Smoking
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) rate of prevalence at the end of 2003 was less than 0.1 percent. In 2001 central government expenditures on health care accounted for about 6 percent of gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (GDP). The suicide rate in the nation
Suicide in South Korea
Suicide in South Korea occurs at the highest suicide rate among the 30 OECD countries, having recently surpassed Japan's rate. The toll of suicide deaths in South Korea has doubled in the last decade....

 was 26 per 100,000 in 2008, the highest in the industrialized world.

Based on the Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee on Influenza (APACI), South Korea ranked the highest of influenza vaccination in Asia with 311 vaccines per 1,000 people.

Culture



South Korea shares its traditional culture with North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. Historically, while the culture of Korea has been heavily influenced by that of neighbouring China, it has nevertheless managed to develop a unique and distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbour. The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.

The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way Korean people
Korean people
The Korean people are an ethnic group originating in the Korean peninsula and Manchuria. Koreans are one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous groups in the world.-Names:...

 live. Changing economics and lifestyles have led to a concentration of population in major cities, especially the capital Seoul, with multi-generational households separating into nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 living arrangements.

Art



Korean art has been highly influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism
Korean Confucianism
Korean Confucianism is the form of Confucianism developed in Korea. One of the most substantial influences in Korean intellectual history was the introduction of Confucian thought as part of the cultural influence from China...

, which can be seen in the many traditional paintings, sculptures, ceramics and the performing arts. Korean pottery and porcelain, such as Joseon
Joseon
Joseon, Chosŏn, Choseon or Chosun are English spellings of the Korean *word for "Korea". It may refer to:*Korea*Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom, from 2333 BC to 108 BC.*Joseon Dynasty of Korea, from AD 1392 to 1910....

's baekja
Joseon White Porcelain
Joseon white porcelain or Joseon baekja refers to the white porcelains produced during the Joseon dynasty .-History:White porcelains were preferred and praised than any other porcelains during the time to represent Korean Confucian ethics such as frugality and pragmatism...

and buncheong
Buncheong
Buncheong ware, or Punch'ong ware is a form of traditional Korean stoneware, with a bluish-green tone. Pots are coated with a white slip, and decorative designs are painted on using an iron pigment. The style emerged in the early Joseon Dynasty, largely replacing celadon in common use...

, and Goryeo
Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

's celadon
Celadon
Celadon is a term for ceramics denoting both a type of glaze and a ware of a specific color, also called celadon. This type of ware was invented in ancient China, such as in the Zhejiang province...

 are well known throughout the world. The Korean tea ceremony
Korean tea ceremony
The Korean tea ceremony or darye is a traditional form of tea ceremony practiced in Korea. Darye literally refers to "etiquette for tea" or "day tea rite" and has been kept among Korean people for a few thousand years...

, pansori
Pansori
Pansori is a genre of Korean traditional music. It is a vocal and percussional music performed by one sorikkun and one gosu . The term pansori is derived from pan , and sori .- Overview :...

, talchum
Talchum
Talchum could be characterized as a Korean dance performed while wearing a mask, miming, speaking and even sometimes singing. Although most Koreans believe that talchum refers to all mask dance dramas, it is in fact a regional term only properly applied to dances of Hwanghae Province in present day...

 and buchaechum are also notable Korean performing arts.

Post-war modern Korean art started to flourish in the 1960s and 1970s, when South Korean Artists took interest in geometrical shapes and intangible subjects. Establishing a harmony between man and nature was also a favorite of this time. Due to social instability, social issues appeared as main subjects in the 1980s. Art was influenced by various international events and exhibits in Korea, and with it brought more diversity. The Olympic Sculpture Garden
Olympic Park, Seoul
The Seoul Olympic Park, shortened to Olpark, is an Olympic Park built to host the 1988 Summer Olympics. Olympic Park is located in Songpa-gu, Bangi-dong.- Competition facilities :*Olympic Velodrome, Seoul*Olympic Fencing Gymnasium...

 in 1988, the transposition of the 1993 edition of the Whitney Biennial
Whitney Biennial
The Whitney Biennial is a biennale exhibition of contemporary American art, typically by young and lesser known artists, on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, USA. The event began as an annual exhibition in 1932, the first biennial was in 1973...

 to Seoul, the creation of the Gwangju Biennale
Gwangju Biennale
The Gwangju Biennale, which started in September 1995 in the city of Gwangju in the South Jeolla province of South Korea, was Asia's first contemporary art biennale. The purpose of Gwangju Biennale is globalization of art and it respect diversity rather than uniformity...

 and the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Venice Biennale
The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, Italy. The Venice Film Festival is part of it. So too is the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which is held in even years...

 in 1995 were notable events.

Architecture


Due to South Korea's tumultuous history, construction and destruction has been repeated endlessly, resulting in an interesting melange of architectural styles and designs.

Korean traditional architecture is characterized by its harmony with nature. Ancient architects adopted the bracket system
Bracket (architecture)
A bracket is an architectural member made of wood, stone, or metal that overhangs a wall to support or carry weight. It may also support a statue, the spring of an arch, a beam, or a shelf. Brackets are often in the form of scrolls, and can be carved, cast, or molded. They can be entirely...

 and is characterized by thatched roofs and heated floors called ondol
Ondol
An ondol, also called gudeul, in Korean traditional architecture, is underfloor heating which uses direct heat transfer from wood smoke to the underside of a thick masonry floor...

. People of the upper classes built bigger houses with elegantly curved tiled roofs with lifting eaves. Traditional architecture can be seen in the palaces and temples, preserved old houses called hanok
Hanok
Hanok is a term to describe Korean traditional houses. Korean architecture lends consideration to the positioning of the house in relation to its surroundings, with thought given to the land and seasons....

, and special sites like Hahoe Folk Village, Yangdong Village of Gyeongju and Korean Folk Village
Korean Folk Village
Korean Folk Village is a living museum type of tourist attraction in the city of Yongin, a satellite city in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in the province of Gyeonggi in South Korea....

. Traditional architecture may also be seen at the nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Korea.

Western architecture was first introduced to Korea at the end of the 19th century. Churches, offices for foreign legislation, schools and university buildings were built in new styles. With annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 the colonial regime intervened in Korea's architectural heritage and Japanese-style modern architecture was imposed. The anti-Japanese sentiment, and the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

, led to the destruction of most buildings constructed during that time.

Korean architecture entered a new phase of development during the post-Korean War reconstruction, incorporating modern architectural trends and styles. Stimulated by the economic growth in the 1970s and 1980s, active redevelopment saw new horizons in architectural design. In the aftermath of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea has witnessed a wide variation of styles in its architectural landscape due, in large part, to the opening up of the market to foreign architects. Contemporary architectural efforts have been constantly trying to balance the traditional philosophy of "harmony with nature" and the fast-paced urbanization that the country has been going through in recent years.

Cuisine




Korean cuisine, hanguk yori (한국요리; 韓國料理), or hansik (한식; 韓食), has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Ingredients and dishes vary by province. There are many significant regional dishes that have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. The Korean royal court cuisine
Korean royal court cuisine
Korean royal court cuisine was the style of cookery within Korean cuisine traditionally consumed at the court of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910. There has been a revival of this cookery style in the 21st century...

 once brought all of the unique regional specialties together for the royal family. Meals consumed both by the royal family and ordinary Korean citizens have been regulated by a unique culture of etiquette.

Korean cuisine is largely based on rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, noodle
Noodle
The noodle is a type of food, made from any of a variety of doughs, formed into long thin ribbons, strips, curly-cues, waves, helices, pipes, tubes, strings, or other various shapes, sometimes folded. They are usually cooked in a mixture of boiling water and/or oil. Depending upon the type, noodles...

s, tofu
Tofu
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...

, vegetables, fish and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes, banchan
Banchan
Banchan refers to small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine. This word is used both in the singular and plural....

(반찬), which accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal is accompanied by numerous banchan. Kimchi
Kimchi
Kimchi , also spelled gimchi, kimchee, or kim chee, is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbage, radish, green onions or cucumber. It is the most common...

(김치), a fermented, usually spicy vegetable dish is commonly served at every meal and is one of the best known Korean dishes. Korean cuisine usually involves heavy seasoning with sesame oil
Sesame oil
Sesame oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from sesame seeds. Besides being used as a cooking oil in South India, it is often used as a flavor enhancer in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and to a lesser extent Southeast Asian cuisine.The oil from the nutrient rich seed is popular in alternative...

, doenjang
Doenjang
Doenjang is a traditional Korean fermented soybean paste. Its name literally means "thick paste" in Korean.-Production:...

(된장), a type of fermented soybean paste
Fermented bean paste
Fermented bean paste is a category of fermented foods typically made from ground soybeans, which are indigenous to the cuisines of East and Southeast Asia...

, soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and gochujang
Gochujang
Gochujang is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in large earthen pots outdoors, more often on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae in the backyard...

(고추장), a hot pepper paste.

Soups are also a common part of a Korean meal and are served as part of the main course rather than at the beginning or the end of the meal. Soups known as guk
Guk
Guk , also sometimes known as Tang , is a class of soup-like dishes in Korean cuisine. Guk and tang are commonly grouped together and regarded as the same type of dish, although guk is more watery and a basic dish for the Korean table setting, and is usually eaten at home...

(국) are often made with meats, shellfish and vegetables. Similar to guk, tang (탕; 湯) has less water, and is more often served in restaurants. Another type is jjigae
Jjigae
Jjigae is a Korean dish similar to a Western stew. There are many different varieties but it is typically made with meat, seafood or vegetables in a broth seasoned with gochujang, doenjang, ganjang or saeujeot. Jjigae is typically served in a communal dish and boiling hot.A Korean meal almost...

(찌개), a stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 that is typically heavily seasoned with chili pepper and served boiling hot.

Contemporary music, film and television



In addition to domestic consumption, South Korean mainstream culture, including televised drama, films, and popular music, also generates significant exports to various parts of the world. This phenomenon, often called "Hallyu" or the "Korean Wave", has swept many countries in Asia and other parts of the world.

Until the 1990s, trot and ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

s dominated Korean popular music. The emergence of the rap group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for Korean popular music, also known as K-Pop
K-pop
K-pop is a musical genre consisting of electropop, hip hop, pop, rock, and R&B music originating in South Korea...

, as the group incorporated elements of popular musical genres of rap, rock
Rock music
Rock music is a genre of popular music that developed during and after the 1960s, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music...

, and techno
Techno
Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid to late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno, in reference to a genre of music, was in 1988...

 into its music. Hip hop, dance and ballad oriented acts have become dominant in the Korean popular music scene, though trot is still popular among older Koreans. Many K-Pop stars and groups are also well known abroad, especially in Asia.

Since the success of the film Shiri
Shiri (film)
Shiri is a 1999 South Korean action film, written and directed by Kang Je-gyu.Swiri was the first Hollywood-style big-budget blockbuster to be produced in the "new" Korean film industry...

in 1999, Korean film has begun to gain recognition internationally. Domestic film has a dominant share of the market, partly due to the existence of screen quotas
Screen quotas
Screen quotas are a legislated policy that enforces a minimum number of screening days of domestic films in the theater each year to protect the nation’s films. The screen quota system is enforced to prevent foreign markets from making inroads into the domestic film market. The screen quota system...

 requiring cinemas to show Korean films at least 73 days a year.
Korean television shows
Korean drama
Korean drama refers to televised dramas, in a miniseries format, produced in the Korean language. Many of these dramas have become popular throughout Asia and have contributed to the general phenomenon of the Korean wave, known as "Hallyu", and also "Drama Fever" in some countries...

, especially the short form dramatic mini-series called "dramas", have also become popular outside of Korea, becoming another driving trend for wider recognition. The trend has caused some Korean actors to become better known abroad. The dramas are popular mostly in Asia. The stories have tended to have a romance focus, such as You're Beautiful
You're Beautiful
"You're Beautiful" is a pop rock song co-written by British singer James Blunt, Sacha Skarbek, and Amanda Ghost for Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam . It was released as the third single from the album in 2005. In the UK and Australia the song reached number one and number two respectively...

, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Boys over Flowers
Boys Over Flowers
is a Japanese shōjo manga series written by Yoko Kamio. It was serialized in the bi-weekly anthology magazine Margaret, which is aimed at high-school-age girls. The manga series ran continuously from October 1992 to September 2003, and was collected into 37 tankōbon volumes. In 1996, it received...

, Winter Sonata
Winter Sonata
Winter Sonata is a South Korean television drama series broadcast by KBS in 2002. It is the second part of the Endless Love installment directed by Yoon Seok-Ho...

, Autumn Fairy Tale
Autumn Fairy Tale
Autumn in My Heart also known as Autumn Fairy Tale and Autumn Tale, is the first installment of the four part Endless Love drama series directed by Yoon Seok-Ho, produced by South Korean TV Network KBS...

, Full House, All About Eve. Historical/fantasy dramas have included Dae Jang Geum
Dae Jang Geum
Dae Jang Geum is a 2003 epic South Korean television series directed by Lee Byung Hoon and produced by MBC. Starring Lee Young Ae, it tells the tale of an orphaned kitchen cook who went on to become the king's first female physician...

, The Legend
The Legend (TV series)
Legend is a South Korean TV series created by Kimjonghak Production that aired on MBC.The story is loosely based on the legend of Dangun and Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo. The story also adds mythical elements of the Four Symbols depicted in fantasy form as the four guardians who serve the...

, Goong, and Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a 2010 South Korean historical fiction drama, broadcast by Korean Broadcasting System , whose original run was from August 30, 2010 to November 2, 2010.-Synopsis:...

.

Technology culture


South Korean corporations Samsung
Samsung
The Samsung Group is a South Korean multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea...

 and LG
LG
LG may refer to:*LG Corp., a South Korean electronics and petrochemicals conglomerate*LG Electronics, an affiliate of the South Korean LG Group which produces electronic products* Lawrence Graham, a London headquartered firm of business lawyers...

 were ranked second and third largest mobile phone companies in the world in the first quarter of 2010, respectively. An estimated 90% of South Koreans own a mobile phone
Mobile phone
A mobile phone is a device which can make and receive telephone calls over a radio link whilst moving around a wide geographic area. It does so by connecting to a cellular network provided by a mobile network operator...

. Aside from placing/receiving calls and text messaging, mobile phones in the country are widely used for watching Digital Multimedia Broadcasting
Digital Multimedia Broadcasting
Digital Multimedia Broadcasting is a digital radio transmission technology developed in South Korea as part of the national IT project for sending multimedia such as TV, radio and datacasting to mobile devices such as mobile phones...

 (DMB) or viewing websites. Over one million DMB phones have been sold and the three major wireless communications providers SK Telecom
SK Telecom
SK Telecom Co., Ltd. or Sunkyoung Telecom is a South Korean wireless telecommunications operator, controlled by the SK Group, one of the country's largest chaebol. As a part of SK Group, SK stands for Sun Kyung.SK Telecom is a provider of mobile service in Korea, with 50.5% of the market share as...

, KT, and LG Telecom
LG Telecom
LG U+ is a South Korean telecommunications and Mobile phone operator controlled by the LG Group, one of the country's largest chaebol. It was formerly known as LG Telecom....

 provide coverage in all major cities and other areas.

Wide access to broadband has let online games become a significant part of Korean culture in recent years. StarCraft
StarCraft
StarCraft is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The first game of the StarCraft series was released for Microsoft Windows on 31 March 1998. With more than 11 million copies sold worldwide as of February 2009, it is one of the best-selling...

, a real-time strategy game
Real-time strategy
Real-time strategy is a sub-genre of strategy video game which does not progress incrementally in turns. Brett Sperry is credited with coining the term to market Dune II....

, is by far the most popular televised computer game in South Korea. Game tournaments
StarCraft professional competition
The computer game StarCraft has an active professional competition circuit, particularly in South Korea. The two major game channels in South Korea, Ongamenet and MBCGame, each run a Starleague , viewed by millions of fans...

, recorded in places like the COEX Mall
COEX Mall
COEX Mall is an underground shopping mall located in Gangnam-gu Seoul, South Korea. It is Asia's largest underground shopping mall with an area of about 85,000 square metres...

 are often broadcast live on TV stations such as MBCGame
MBCGame
MBC Game is the South Korean non-'free-to-air' television network, which is well-known for its E-sports broadcasting.- Contents :...

 and Ongamenet
Ongamenet
Ongamenet is one of two South Korean cable television companies , that specializes in broadcasting video game-related information and matches, which include StarCraft, Warcraft III and others. It is a subsidiary of On-Media, an owner of several cable channels....

. Professional StarCraft players can command considerable salaries in South Korea as members of pro-gaming teams that are sponsored primarily by cell phone providers. PC games are usually played in PC bang
PC bang
A PC bang is a type of LAN gaming center, where patrons can play multiplayer computer games for a small hourly fee. The typical cost for an hour of play ranges from 500 to 1500 won , but 1000 won per hour is the most common cost in PC bang...

s which are basically internet cafes dedicated to online games such as Aion, Lineage II, Sudden Attack
Sudden Attack
Sudden Attack is a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter online game developed by the South Korean company, GameHi and moved to Nexon.-Gameplay:...

, Kart Rider, Maple Story, Mabinogi, World of WarCraft
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994...

, and StarCraft 2 (the long awaited sequel to the original starcraft which sold over 4.5 million copies in South Korea).
Based on Pando networks content delivery service released on September 2011, South Korea has the first fastest Internet speeds on the world at 17.62 Mbps and Seocho city has the fastest Internet on earth at 33.5 Mbps.

Sports



The martial art
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

 taekwondo
Taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

 originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 1960s, modern rules were standardised and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, hapkido
Hapkido
Hapkido is a dynamic and also eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks...

, tang soo do
Tang Soo Do
Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art promoted by Hwang Kee that has roots in various martial arts, including taekkyeon and Subak.-Etymology:...

, kuk sool won
Kuk Sool Won
Kuk Sool Won is a Korean martial arts system founded by Suh In-Hyuk |Grandmaster]]) in 1958. The name Kuk Sool Won translates to "National Martial Art Association" and despite often being shortened to 'Kuk Sool,' the name kuk sool is a non-trade marked name used to denote similar Korean martial...

, kumdo
Kumdo
Kumdo is a modern martial art descended from kendo, which is practiced in Korea. It is also romanized as kǒmdo, gumdo, or geomdo. The name means "the way of the sword," and is a cognate with the Japanese term. Kumdo is a martial art that has become engrained within Korean culture and society since...

 and subak
Subak
Subak, Subakgi or Yusul is either a specific ancient Korean martial art. Historically this term may have specified the old Korean martial art of taekkyeon.-History:...

.
Football has traditionally been regarded as the most popular spectator sport in Korea. Recent polling indicates that a majority, 56.7%, of South Korean sports fans continue to self-identify as football fans, with baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 ranked second at 19.1% of respondents. However, the polling did not indicate the extent to which respondents follow both sports. K-League
K-League
The Korea Professional Football League is South Korea's only fully professional association football league. At the top of the South Korean football league system, it is the country's highest and most prestigious level of football competition currently contested by 16 clubs.-Establishment:The...

 regular season football matches televised nationally average 35% share of the television-watching audience. European football leagues are also televised and widely followed. The national football team
Korea Republic national football team
The Korea Republic national football team represents Korea Republic in international football and is controlled by the Korea Football Association. Korea Republic is the most successful Asian football team in the history of the FIFA World Cup having participated in eight World Cup tournaments,...

 became the first team in the Asian Football Confederation
Asian Football Confederation
The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. However, due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, nations such as Russia and Turkey which are located mostly in geographic Asia are...

 to reach the World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 semi-finals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup
2002 FIFA World Cup
The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

, which was jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan. The Korean Republic team (as it is known) has qualified for every World Cup since Mexico 1986
1986 FIFA World Cup
The 1986 FIFA World Cup, the 13th FIFA World Cup, was held in Mexico from 31 May to 29 June. The tournament was the second to feature a 24-team format. Colombia had been originally chosen to host the competition by FIFA but, largely due to economic reasons, was not able to do so and officially...

, and has broken out of the group stage twice: first in 2002, and again in 2010
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

, when it was defeated by Uruguay
Uruguay national football team
The Uruguayan national football team represents Uruguay in international association football and is controlled by the Uruguayan Football Association, the governing body for football in Uruguay. The current head coach is Óscar Tabárez...

 in the Round of 16.

Baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 was first introduced to Korea in 1905 and has since become an increasingly popular spectator sport, with some sources claiming it has surpassed football as the most popular sport in the country. Recent years have been characterized by increasing attendance and ticket prices for professional baseball games. The Korea Professional Baseball league, an 8 team circuit, was established in 1982. The South Korean national team finished third in the 2006 World Baseball Classic
2006 World Baseball Classic
---------Pool B:-------------Pool C:-------------Pool D:-------------Pool 1:-----------------Pool 2:-------------Finals:-Semifinals:-Final:-Final standings:...

 and second in the 2009 tournament
2009 World Baseball Classic
The 2009 World Baseball Classic was an international baseball competition. It is the only international baseball tournament to feature a large number of players from the major leagues of North America and Asia. It began on March 5, 2009, and finished March 23, 2009.Japan emerged victorious for the...

. The team's 2009 final game against Japan was widely watched in Korea, with a large screen at Gwanghwamun
Gwanghwamun
Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace, located in Seoul, South Korea. As a landmark and symbol of Seoul's long history as the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty, the gate has gone through multiple periods of destruction and disrepair...

 crossing in Seoul broadcasting the game live. In the 2008 Summer Olympics
2008 Summer Olympics
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, was a major international multi-sport event that took place in Beijing, China, from August 8 to August 24, 2008. A total of 11,028 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees competed in 28 sports and 302 events...

, South Korea won the gold medal in baseball. Also in 1982, at the Baseball Worldcup, Korea won the gold medal. At the Guangzhou Asian Games, the Korean National Baseball team won the gold medal.
South Korea hosted the Asian Games
Asian Games
The Asian Games, officially known as Asiad, is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games they have been organised by the...

 in 1986 (Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

), 2002 (Busan
Busan
Busan , formerly spelled Pusan is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul, with a population of around 3.6 million. The Metropolitan area population is 4,399,515 as of 2010. It is the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth largest port in the world...

), and will host again in 2014 (Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

). It also hosted the Winter Universiade
Universiade
The Universiade is an International multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation . The name is a combination of the words "University" and "olympiad"...

 in 1997, the Asian Winter Games
Asian Winter Games
The Asian Winter Games is a multi-sport event held every four years for members of the Olympic Council of Asia which features winter events. The Japanese Olympic Committee first suggested the idea of holding a winter version of the Asian Games in 1982...

 in 1999 and the Summer Universiade in 2003. In 1988, South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul
1988 Summer Olympics
The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were an all international multi-sport events celebrated from September 17 to October 2, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics...

, coming fourth with 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 11 bronze medals. South Korea regularly performs well in archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

, shooting
Shooting
Shooting is the act or process of firing rifles, shotguns or other projectile weapons such as bows or crossbows. Even the firing of artillery, rockets and missiles can be called shooting. A person who specializes in shooting is a marksman...

, table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

, badminton
Badminton
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players or two opposing pairs , who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their...

, short track speed skating
Short track speed skating
Short track speed skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. In competitions, multiple skaters skate on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12 m...

, handball
Team handball
Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each pass a ball to throw it into the goal of the other team...

, hockey
Hockey
Hockey is a family of sports in which two teams play against each other by trying to maneuver a ball or a puck into the opponent's goal using a hockey stick.-Etymology:...

, freestyle wrestling
Freestyle wrestling
Freestyle wrestling is a style of amateur wrestling that is practised throughout the world. Along with Greco-Roman, it is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic games. It is, along with track and field, one of the oldest organized sports in history...

, Greco-Roman wrestling
Greco-Roman wrestling
Greco-Roman wrestling is a style of wrestling that is practised worldwide. It was contested at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and has been included in every edition of the summer Olympics held since 1908. Two wrestlers are scored for their performance in three two-minute periods, which can...

, baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

, judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

, taekwondo
Taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

, speed skating
Speed skating
Speed skating, or speedskating is a competitive form of ice skating in which the competitors race each other in traveling a certain distance on skates. Types of speed skating are long track speed skating, short track speed skating, and marathon speed skating...

, figure Skating
Figure skating
Figure skating is an Olympic sport in which individuals, pairs, or groups perform spins, jumps, footwork and other intricate and challenging moves on ice skates. Figure skaters compete at various levels from beginner up to the Olympic level , and at local, national, and international competitions...

, and weightlifting. The Seoul Olympic Museum
Seoul Olympic Museum
The Seoul Olympic Museum is a museum dedicated to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.-External links:*...

 is a museum in Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

, South Korea, dedicated to the 1988 Summer Olympics. On July 6, 2011 Pyeongchang was chosen by the IOC to host the 2018 Winter Olympics
2018 Winter Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, is a winter multi-sport event scheduled to take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, between 9 and 25 February 2018. The elected host city was announced on 6 July 2011 by the International Olympic Committee , after the...

.

South Korean athletes have shown skill in the Winter Olympics as well; after the 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

, South Korea, has won a total of 45 medals (23 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze). South Korea is especially strong in short track speed skating
Short track speed skating
Short track speed skating is a form of competitive ice speed skating. In competitions, multiple skaters skate on an oval ice track with a circumference of 111.12 m...

, however, ice hockey is emerging as Anyang Halla
Anyang Halla
The Anyang Halla are a professional ice hockey team based in Anyang City in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. They are one of the founding and current members of the Asia League Ice Hockey . Formed in 1994, they are the oldest professional ice hockey team, and one of only two professional teams, in South...

 won their first ever Asia League Ice Hockey title in March 2010.

Seoul hosted a professional triathlon
Triathlon
A triathlon is a multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events. While many variations of the sport exist, triathlon, in its most popular form, involves swimming, cycling, and running in immediate succession over various distances...

 race, which is part of the International Triathlon Union
International Triathlon Union
The International Triathlon Union or ITU is the international governing body for the multi-sport disciplines of triathlon, duathlon, aquathlon and other nonstandard variations...

 (ITU) World Championship Series in May 2010.

In October 2010, South Korea hosted its first Formula One
Formula One
Formula One, also known as Formula 1 or F1 and referred to officially as the FIA Formula One World Championship, is the highest class of single seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile . The "formula" designation in the name refers to a set of rules with which...

 race at the Korean International Circuit
Korean International Circuit
The Korea International Circuit is a motorsport circuit located in Yeongam, South Jeolla, South Korea, 400 kilometres south of Seoul and near the port city of Mokpo...

 in Yeongam, about 400 kilometres (248.5 mi) south of Seoul. In 2011, the South Korean city of Daegu will host the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics
2011 World Championships in Athletics
The 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics was an international athletics competition that was held in Daegu, South Korea. It started on 27 August 2011 and finished on 4 September 2011....

.

South Korea has three horse racing
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 tracks of which Seoul Race Park
Seoul Race Park
Seoul Race Park is a Korean thoroughbred racetrack in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. It is host to many of Korea's most valuable thoroughbred horse races including the Korean Derby and Grand Prix. Seoul Race Park is located next to Seoul Racecourse Park Station on Line 4 of the Seoul...

 in Gwacheon
Gwacheon
Gwacheon is a city in Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea. It lies close to Seoul in the heart of the Seoul National Capital Area, and also lies just east of Anyang...

, Gyeonggi-do
Gyeonggi-do
Gyeonggi-do is the most populous province in South Korea. The provincial capital is located at Suwon. Seoul—South Korea's largest city and national capital—is located in the heart of the province, but has been separately administered as a provincial-level special city since 1946...

 is the biggest.

Korea Professional Sports League


----
  •  K-League
    K-League
    The Korea Professional Football League is South Korea's only fully professional association football league. At the top of the South Korean football league system, it is the country's highest and most prestigious level of football competition currently contested by 16 clubs.-Establishment:The...

  •  National League
  •  Challengers League


----
  •  Korea Professional Baseball
  •  Futures League
    Korea Baseball Futures League
    Futures League is the 2nd highest level below that of Korea Professional Baseball in South Korea. It has a role as a farm league, whose the purpose is to develop players available to play in Korea Professional Baseball league on demand. Futures League consists of two small leagues that are...



----
  •  Korean Basketball League
    Korean Basketball League
    The Korean Basketball League, often abbreviated to the KBL, is the pre-eminent men's professional basketball league in South Korea. Its inaugural season was in 1997. The season starts in October and ends in April the following year. The KBL consists of 10 teams. Each team plays 54 games . Each team...



----
  •  V-League
    V-League (South Korea)
    The V-League is a South Korean club volleyball competition. V-League was founded in 2005 with six men's clubs and five women's clubs. From 2009-10 season, Seoul Woori Capital Dream Six joined the men's league.-Men's clubs:*Cheonan Hyundai Capital Skywalkers...



Internatianal Championship Host


----
  •  Seoul Summer 1988
    1988 Summer Olympics
    The 1988 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIV Olympiad, were an all international multi-sport events celebrated from September 17 to October 2, 1988 in Seoul, South Korea. They were the second summer Olympic Games to be held in Asia and the first since the 1964 Summer Olympics...

  •  Pyeongchang Winter 2018
    2018 Winter Olympics
    The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, is a winter multi-sport event scheduled to take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, between 9 and 25 February 2018. The elected host city was announced on 6 July 2011 by the International Olympic Committee , after the...



----
  •  South Korea & Japan 2002
    2002 FIFA World Cup
    The 2002 FIFA World Cup was the 17th staging of the FIFA World Cup, held in South Korea and Japan from 31 May to 30 June. It was also the first World Cup held in Asia, and the last in which the golden goal rule was implemented. Brazil won the tournament for a record fifth time, beating Germany 2–0...

  •  South Korea 2007 (U-17)
    2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup
    The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2007 was held in the Korea Republic between 18 August and 9 September 2007. For this event, the number of teams had been expanded from 16 to 24, with the top two of each group and the four best third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16...



----
  •  Daegu 2011
    2011 World Championships in Athletics
    The 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics was an international athletics competition that was held in Daegu, South Korea. It started on 27 August 2011 and finished on 4 September 2011....



----
  •  Seoul Summer 1986
    1986 Asian Games
    The 10th Asian Games were held from September 20, 1986 to October 5, 1986 in Seoul, South Korea. The city was supposed to host the 1970 games, but it received security threats from neighboring North Korea, forcing it to give up hosting the games to previous 1966 host Bangkok, Thailand...

  •  Gangwon Winter 1999
  •  Busan Summer 2002
    2002 Asian Games
    The 2002 Asian Games, also known as XIV Asiad is a multi-sport event held in Busan, South Korea from September 29 to October 14, 2002. Busan is the second city, after Seoul in 1986 to host the Games. A total of 419 events in 38 sports were contested by 7,711 athletes from 44 countries...

  •  Incheon Summer 2014
    2014 Asian Games
    The 2014 Asian Games, officially known as the XVII Asiad, is the largest sporting event in Asia governed by Olympic Council of Asia . It is scheduled to take place in Incheon, South Korea from September 19–October 4, 2014, with 36 sports set to feature in the Games.Incheon was awarded the right on...



----
  •  South Korea 1960
    1960 AFC Asian Cup
    The 1960 AFC Asian Cup was the second edition of the tournament. The finals were hosted by South Korea from October 14 to October 23, 1960. The final tournament was organised on a round robin basis, and host country South Korea won with a perfect record of three wins.- Venues :- Qualification...



----
  •  Korean Grand Prix
    Korean Grand Prix
    The Korean Grand Prix is a Formula One race held in South Korea. After months of speculation, on October 2, 2006 it was confirmed that the event would actually take place in 2010, and would be hosted by the Korean International Circuit. It has also been revealed that the race will be promoted by a...


See also


  • History of South Korea
    History of South Korea
    The history of South Korea formally begins with the establishment of South Korea on 15 August 1948, although Syngman Rhee had declared the establishment in Seoul on 13 August....

  • International rankings of South Korea
    International rankings of South Korea
    The following are international rankings of the South Korea.- Demographics :- Economy :- Education :- Environment :- Industry :- Military :- Politics :- Society :*University of Leicester 2006 Satisfaction with Life Index ranked 102...



External links