South Korea

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Republic of Korea
대한민국 (大韓民國)
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Aegukga (애국가)
The Patriotic Song
(and largest city)
37°35′N 127°0′E / 37.583°N 127°E / 37.583; 127
Official language(s) Korean
Official scripts Hangul
Demonym South Korean, Korean
Government Presidential republic
- President Lee Myung-bak
- Prime Minister Chung Un-chan
Legislature National Assembly
- Founding of Gojoseon 2333 BC[1]
- Japan’s occupation of Korea August 29, 1910
- Independence declared March 1, 1919
- Provisional Government April 13, 1919
- Liberation August 15, 1945
- Constitution July 17, 1948
- Government Proclaimed August 15, 1948
- Total 100,210 km2 (108th)
38,622 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.3
- 2009 estimate 50,062,000 (24th)
- Density 500/km2 (21st)
1,296/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2009 estimate
- Total $1.364 trillion[2]
- Per capita $27,978[2]
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
- Total $832.512 billion[2]
- Per capita $17,074[2]
Gini (2007) 31.3[3] (low)
HDI (2007) 0.937[4] (very high) (26th)
Currency South Korean won (₩) (KRW)
Time zone Korea Standard Time (UTC+9)
- Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+9)
Date formats yyyy년 mm월 dd일
yyyy/mm/dd (CE)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .kr
Calling code 82
1 Mobile phone system CDMA, WCDMA, HSDPA and WiBro
2 Domestic power supply 220V/60 Hz, CEE 7/7 sockets
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK) (Korean: 대한민국, pronounced [tɛːhanminɡuk̚] ( listen)), is a country in East Asia, located on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. Its capital is Seoul. South Korea lies in a temperate climate region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 100,032 square kilometers and has a population of over 50 million.[5]
Archaeological findings show that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period.[6][7] Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Korea was annexed by Japan. After liberation and occupation by Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of World War II, the nation was divided into North and South Korea. The latter was established in 1948 as a democracy. A war between the two Koreas ended in an uneasy cease-fire, and the border between the two nations is currently the most heavily-fortified in the world.[8] After the war, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was transformed into a major economy[9] and a full democracy.
South Korea is a presidential republic consisting of sixteen administrative divisions and is a developed country with a very high standard of living. It has the fourth largest economy in Asia and the 15th largest in the world nominally and the 13th largest by purchasing power parity.[10] The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. South Korea is a member of the United Nations, WTO, OECD and G-20 major economies. It is also a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.




Like many democracies,[11] South Korea's government is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. 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. 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, the country has always had a presidential system with an independent chief executive.[12] The first direct election 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. Today, the CIA World Factbook describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy".[13]


Before division

Korean history begins with the legendary founding of Joseon (often known as "Gojoseon" to prevent confusion with another dynasty founded in the 14th century; the prefix Go- means 'old' or 'earlier') in 2333 BCE by Dangun.[14] Gojoseon expanded until it controlled much of the northern Korean Peninsula and parts of Manchuria, a total territory nearly the size of Western Europe. After numerous wars with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.
In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as Three Kingdoms of Korea. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North South States Period, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture flourished. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, 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 Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.
Jikji, the first known book printed with movable metal type in 1377, which is 62 years earlier than Gutenberg's Printing press. Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.
After the North South States Period,[citation needed] successor states fought for control during the Later Three Kingdoms period. The peninsula was soon united by Emperor Taejo of Goryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world's oldest movable metal printing press.[15]
The Mongol invasions 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 in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.
King Taejo declared the new name of Korea as "Joseon" in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of Hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country.
Gyeongbok Palace is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty.
Between 1592 and 1598, the Japanese invaded Korea. Toyotomi Hideyoshi led the forces and tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was eventually repelled by the Righteous army and assistance from Ming Dynasty China. This war also saw the rise of Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his renowned "turtle ship". 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, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo especially led a new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty.
However, the latter years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by excessive 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". The Joseon Dynasty tried to protect itself against Western imperialism, but was eventually forced to open trade. After the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Korea came under Japanese colonial rule (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 division

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism between the Soviet Union and the United States eventually led to the establishment of separate governments, each with its own ideology, leading to Korea's division into two political entities in 1948: North Korea and South Korea. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung gained power through Soviet support, and in the South, an exiled and right-wing Korean political leader, Syngman Rhee, was installed as president.
The Seoul Olympic Stadium, seen from the Han River, hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics.
On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with military force which led to the Korean War. At the time, the Soviet Union had boycotted the United Nations (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. 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 near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was signed, resulting in the two countries remaining technically at war. At least 2.5 million people died during the Korean War.[16]
In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic President Syngman Rhee. A period of political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee's military coup (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 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 considerable political turmoil as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1980 there was another coup d'état by General Chun Doo-hwan against the transitional government of Choi Gyu Ha, the interim president and a former prime minister under Park. Chun assumed the presidency. His seizure of power triggered nationwide protests demanding democracy, in particular in the city of Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement.
View of the Seoul World Cup Stadium used during the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan.
Chun and his government held Korea under a despotic rule until 1987, when Park Jong Chul—a student attending Seoul National University—was tortured to death. On 10 June, the Catholic Priests' Association for Justice revealed Park's torture, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. Eventually, Chun's party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th 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.
View of Seoul's Gangnam district today. South Korea's economic success is often called the Miracle on the Han River.
In 1988, Seoul successfully hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, and continuing economic development led to membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996. As with many of its Asian neighbors, South Korea was adversely affected by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, however the country was able to recover and continue its economic growth.
In June 2000, as part of president Kim Dae-Jung's "Sunshine Policy" of engagement, a North-South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Later that year, Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize "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."[17]
In 2002, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup, however South Korean and Japanese relations later soured due to conflicting claims of sovereignty over the Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo in Korean), in what became known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute.

Foreign relations

South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with more than 188 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations 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 assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
Beginning in May 2007, South Korea and the European Union have been negotiating a free trade agreement to reduce trade barriers.[18] South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada,[19] and another with New Zealand.[20] In November 2009, South Korea made its accession to the OECD Development Assistance Committee marking the first time a former aid recipient country has joined the group as a donor member. South Korea has also agreed to host the G-20 Summit in Seoul in 2010.


Historically, Korea has had relatively 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 while South Korea sought close relations with the United States. The PRC assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, 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[21] South Korean-Chinese relations have improved steadily since 1992.[21] The Republic of Korea broke off official relations with the Republic of China upon gaining official relations with the People's Republic of China.[22]


Liancourt Rocks has become an issue known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute
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 in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army.[23][24] Korean women were lured to the war front to serve the Imperial Japanese Army as sexual slaves, called comfort women.[25][26]
Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war (including some class A war criminals), the re-writing of Japanese textbooks related to Japanese acts during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo in Korean)[27] continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. Although Liancourt Rocks are claimed by both Korea and Japan, the islets are currently administered by South Korea, which has its Korean Coast Guard stationed there.[28]
In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, former President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan.[29]

North Korea

Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace.[30] On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il 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.[30]
Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, 2006 and 2009. As of early 2009, relationships between North and South Korea were very tense; North Korea had been reported to have deployed missiles,[31] ended its former agreements with South Korea,[32] and threatened South Korea and the United States not to interfere with a satellite launch it had planned.[33] As of 2009, North and South Korea are still technically at war (having never signed an armistice after the Korean War) and share the world’s most heavily fortified border.[8] On May 27, 2009, North Korea declared that the ceasefire treaty, signed post Korean War, is no longer valid due to the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative. To further complicate and intensify strains between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010, killing 46 seamen, is as of May 20, 2010 claimed by a team of researchers around the world[34] to have been caused by a North Korean torpedo, which the North denies. South Korea agreed with the findings from the research group and 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.[35] As a result of this, North Korea severed all ties, completely abrogated the previous pact of non aggression and expelled all South Koreans from a joint industrial zone in Kaesong.[36]

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 3 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 ceasefire, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to a "Mutual Defense Treaty", under which an attack on either party would summon a response from both. Currently, the U.S. Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force and U.S. Naval Forces Korea are stationed in South Korea. The two nations have strong economic, diplomatic and military ties, although they have at times disagreed with regards to policies towards North Korea. In 2007, a free trade agreement known as the Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was signed between South Korea and the United States, but has not yet been approved by the legislative bodies of the two countries.

Armed forces

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, while maintaining compulsory conscription for men.[37] Consequently, South Korea has the world's sixth largest number of active troops,[38] the world's second-largest number of reserve troops[38] and the twelfth largest defence budget. The Republic of Korea, with a regular military force numbering 3.7 million regular personnel among a total national population of 50 million people, has the second highest number of soldiers per capita in the world,[38] after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.[39]
ROKN Sejong the Great (DDG 991), a King Sejong the Great -class guided-missile destroyer.
The South Korean military consists of the Army (ROKA), the Navy (ROKN), the Air Force (ROKAF), and the Marine Corps (ROKMC), and reserve forces.[40] Many of these forces are concentrated near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically for a period of two years. However, there have been debates about shortening the length of the military services, and even dismissing the mandatory service itself. The government recently allowed some male students who were in the process of earning a university bachelor's degree and master's degree to dismiss the military requirements to allow them to further study and research their fields. Furthermore, Koreans of mixed race are exempt from military duty if they "look distinctively biracial".[41]
Along with ROK soldiers, some Korean males are selected to serve two years in the KATUSA Program.[42]
The South Korean army has 2,300 tanks in operation,[43] including the K1A1 and K2 Black Panther. The South Korean navy has the world's sixth largest fleet of destroyers, including the King Sejong the Great class destroyer, which has an Aegis guided missile system.[44] The South Korean air force operates the ninth largest air force in the world,[45] including American fighters such as the F-15K, KF-16, and the indigenous T-50 Golden Eagle.[46]
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 320,000 troops to fight alongside American, Australian, Filipino, New Zealand and South Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War, with a peak strength of 50,000. Most recently, South Korea sent 3,300 troops of the Zaytun Division to help re-building in northern Iraq, and was the 3rd largest contributor in the coalition forces after only the US and Britain.[47]
The United States has stationed a substantial contingent of troops in South Korea since the Korean War to defend South Korea in case of a North Korean attack. There are also approximately 29,000 U.S. Military personnel stationed in Korea,[48] 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, Yongsan, Dongducheon, Sungbuk, and Daegu. A still functioning UN Command is technically the top of the chain of command of all forces in South Korea, including the US forces and the entire South Korean military. Although, if a sudden escalation of war between North and South Korea were to occur, as of currently, the United States would assume control of the South Korean Army 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).[49]

Administrative divisions

See also Special cities of Korea and Provinces of Korea
Principal 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.

Namea hangul hanja population
Special city (Teukbyeolsi)a
1 Seoul (Special City) 서울특별시 서울特別市 10,421,782
Metropolitan cities (Gwangyeoksi)a
2 Busan 부산광역시 釜山廣域市 3,635,389
3 Daegu 대구광역시 大邱廣域市 2,512,604
4 Incheon 인천광역시 仁川廣域市 2,628,000
5 Gwangju 광주광역시 光州廣域市 1,415,953
6 Daejeon 대전광역시 大田廣域市 1,442,857
7 Ulsan 울산광역시 蔚山廣域市 1,087,958
Provinces (Do)a
8 Gyeonggi-do 경기도 京畿道 10,415,399
9 Gangwon-do 강원도 江原道 1,592,000
10 Chungcheongbuk-do (Northern Chungcheong) 충청북도 忠淸北道 1,462,621
11 Chungcheongnam-do (Southern Chungcheong) 충청남도 忠淸南道 1,840,410
12 Jeollabuk-do (Northern Jeolla) 전라북도 全羅北道 1,890,669
13 Jeollanam-do (Southern Jeolla) 전라남도 全羅南道 1,994,287
14 Gyeongsangbuk-do (Northern Gyeongsang) 경상북도 慶尙北道 2,775,890
15 Gyeongsangnam-do (Southern Gyeongsang) 경상남도 慶尙南道 2,970,929
Special self-governing province (Teukbyeoljachi-do)a
16 Jeju-teukbyeoljachido (Jeju-do) 제주특별자치도 濟州特別自治道 560,000
a Revised Romanisation.

Geography and climate

Topography of South Korea
Boseong tea field.
South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 680 miles (1,100 km) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and the East Sea(Sea of Japan) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea.
The country's total area is 38,622.57 square miles (100,032.00 km2).[50]
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, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River.
South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, constitute 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 is located about 100 kilometers (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches 1,950 meters (6,398 ft) above sea level. The most eastern islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo), while Marado and Socotra Rock are the southernmost islands of South Korea.
South Korea has 20 national parks and some popular nature places like Boseong Tea Field, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park in South Jeolla province.


Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: [51]
South Korea tends to have a humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate, and is affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma (장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping to -20 °C in the northernmost part of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is −7 °C to 1 °C (19 °F 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.
Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimeters (54 inches) in Seoul to 1,470 millimeters (58 inches) in Busan. There are occasional typhoons that bring high winds and floods.


Cheonggyecheon, a stream running through downtown Seoul, was restored after being paved over for a motorway.
During the first 20 years of South Korea's growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment.[52] Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat.[53] However, there have been recent efforts to balance these problems, including a government run $84 billion five-year green growth project that aims to boost energy efficiency and green technology.[54][55]
The green-based economic strategy is a comprehensive overhaul of South Korea’s economy, utilizing nearly two percent of the national GDP.[54] The greening initiative includes such efforts as a nation wide 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.[56] The country - already the world's most wired - plans to build a nationwide next-generation network which will be 10 times faster than current broadband facilities in order to reduce energy usage.[56]
Seoul's tap water recently became safe to drink, with city officials branding it "Arisu" in a bid to convince the public.[57] Efforts have also been made with afforestation projects. Another multi-billion dollar project was the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, a stream running through downtown Seoul that had earlier been paved over by a motorway.[58] One major challenge is air quality, with acid rain, sulphur oxides, and annual yellow dust storms being particular problems.[52] It is acknowledged that many of these difficulties are a result of South Korea's proximity to China, which is a major air polluter.[52]
South Korea is a member of the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity Treaty, Kyoto Protocol (forming the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), regarding UNFCCC,[59] with Mexico and Switzerland), Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling.[60]


Economy of South Korea
South Korea's GDP (PPP) growth from 1911 to 2008.png
South Korea's real GDP growth from 1911 to 2008, in millions of 1990 Intl. dollars. This rapid growth is termed the Miracle on the Han River.
Currency South Korean Won (W)
Fiscal year Calendar yearfif ranke
Trade organisations APEC, WTO and OECD
GDP PPP: $1.356 trillion (2009 est.)
Nominal: $809.7 billion (2009 est.)
PPP rank: 13th (2008)
Nominal rank: 15th (2008)
GDP growth 0.2% (2009)[61]
GDP per capita PPP: $28,000 (2009)
GDP by sector agriculture (3.0%), industry (39.5%), services (57.6%) (2008 est.)
Inflation (CPI) 2.8% (2009 est.)
Gini index 31.3 (2007)
Labour force 24.37 million (2009 est.)
Labour force
by occupation
agriculture (7.2%), industry (25.1%), services (67.7%) (2008 est.)
Unemployment 4.1% (2009 est.)
Main industries electronics, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel, textiles, clothing, footwear, food processing, treatment
Exports $355.1 billion (2009)[62]
Export goods semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Main export partners the People's Republic of China 25.5%, U.S. 10.9%, Japan 6.4% (2008)
Imports $313.4 billion (2009)[62]
Import goods machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Main import partners The People's Republic of China 19.2%, Japan 15.1%, U.S. 8.8%, Saudi Arabia 6.1% (2008)
Gross external debt $333.6 billion (2009)[62]
Public finances
Public debt 28% of GDP (2009)[62]
Revenues $191.5 billion (2009 est.)
Expenses $227.2 billion (2009 est.)
Economic aid ODA, $699 million (donor) (2007)[63]
Credit rating A1[64]
Foreign reserves $270.9 billion (November 2009)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars
The $40 billion Songdo International City in Incheon Free Economic Zone is the largest private real estate project in history.[65]
Hyundai Kia Automotive Group is the world's largest automaker by profit[66] and fourth biggest in terms of units sold.[67]
The KTX-II developed by South Korea is the world's fourth high-speed train to exceed the 350km/h mark.[68]
South Korea is a developed country and had one of the world's fastest growing economies from the early 1960s to the late 1990s.[69] Koreans call this rapid transformation the Miracle on the Han River. The growth surge was achieved by concentrating on labor-intensive manufactured exports.[70] As of 2009, South Korea is the world's ninth largest exporter.[71]
A member of the OECD, South Korea is classified as a high-income economy by the World Bank, an advanced economy by the IMF and CIA[72][73] and a developed market by the FTSE Group. It has a very high HDI, measuring particularly high in the Education Index, where it is ranked first in Asia and seventh worldwide. South Korea is currently ranked as the most innovative country in the world among major economies in the Global Innovation Index.[74]
South Korea is the current chair of the G-20 major economies and will be the first country in Asia to host the G-20 summit when it does so in Seoul in November 2010. It is one of the 24 selected (including the European Commission) OECD members in the Development Assistance Committee, a group of the world's major donor countries contributing to development aid and poverty reduction in developing countries. It is also a founding member of APEC, ASEAN Plus Three and EAS.
The South Korean economy is led by large conglomerates known as chaebol. These include global multinational brands such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia. The 10 largest companies by market value in 2009 were Samsung Electronics, POSCO, Hyundai Motor, KB Financial Group, Korea Electric Power, Samsung Life Insurance, Shinhan Financial Group, LG Electronics, Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem, and 6 of them are chaebol subsidiaries.[75][76]
As the largest of the Four Asian Tigers, the South Korean economy is the fourth largest in Asia and 15th largest in the world. In 2009, South Korea was the world's eighth largest exporter.[71] It is the third largest trading partner of China and Japan,[77][78] the seventh largest trading partner of the United States[79] and the eighth largest trading partner of the European Union.[80] It ranks 31st in the world for economic freedom, and its economy is considered "moderately free".[81]
South Korea is the world's largest shipbuilder,[82][83] and the fifth largest automobile maker in the world.[84] It is Asia's largest exporter of oil products.[85] South Korea's Samsung C&T built Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.[86] The GDPs of the country's provinces range from $17,858 in Daegu to $63,817 in Ulsan, as measured in US dollars.[87] It is home to the world's largest automobile assembly plant operated by Hyundai Motor,[88] the world's largest shipyard operated by Hyundai Heavy Industries[89] and the world's largest oil refinery owned by SK Energy.[90]
Its capital, Seoul, is consistently placed among the world's top ten financial and commercial cities[91][92] and was named the world's sixth most economically powerful city by Forbes[91] with a GDP per capita of $32,171 in 2008.[2][93][94][95]
South Korea is pursuing a large number of multi-billion dollar developments, most notably the Digital Media City in Seoul, Centum City in Busan and Songdo International City in Incheon. The 133-floor supertall Digital Media City Landmark Building is slated to become the world's second tallest building in 2015, housing the world's tallest observatory and hotels, while the 151-floor supertall 151 Incheon Tower will become the world's tallest twin towers in 2014. Centum City is home to the world's largest department store, the Shinsegae Centum City, which set a new Guinness World Record in 2009.[96]

High-tech industries

South Korea's Samsung Electronics electronics technology company[97] Samsung Group is the world's largest capitalist company.[98]
LG Crystal's transparent keypad developed by South Korea's LG, the world's third largest cellphone maker.[99]
South Korea is ranked first in the world in the Digital Opportunity Index, and first among major economies in the Global Innovation Index. The Digital Media City in Seoul is the first high-tech complex in the world for digital technologies and a test-bed for new futuristic concepts such as ubiquitous computing.
South Korea has a high-tech infrastructure and is the most wired country in the world,[100] with the world's highest broadband internet access per capita,[101][102] and the fastest average Internet connections with a nationwide 100Mbps fibre-optic network that is currently being upgraded to 1Gbps by 2012.[103]
In consumer electronics, South Korea is the world's largest LCD, OLED, CRT and plasma display maker.[104] The South Korean companies Samsung and LG are among the top three manufacturers of televisions[105] and mobile phones.[106] Samsung is currently the world's most valued consumer electronics brand.[107]
South Korea is one of the world's leading technology innovators, having the third largest number of patents in force worldwide, after Japan and the United States.[108] It has the world's highest patent filings per GDP and the highest patent filings per R&D expenditure, as well as the second highest patent filings per million population. Among developed countries, it has the fastest patent filing growth at over 14.8% in 2007.[109]
The government is also investing in the robotics industry.[110][111] There are also plans to develop other sectors, including financial services, biotechnology and aerospace industries.
South Korea was the first country to start Digital Multimedia Broadcasting in 2005,[112] which has now rolled out nation-wide. South Korea's telecom industry developed WiBro, a high-speed mobile broadband internet service, which was launched for the first time in the world in 2006. South Korea also possesses an advanced 3G HSDPA coverage extending to even mountains and underground subway lines.[113]

Transportation and energy

Incheon International Airport, rated the best airport worldwide consecutively since 2005 by Airports Council International.[114]
Moonlight Rainbow Fountain in Seoul is the world's longest bridge fountain.[115]
South Korea has a 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 provides frequent train service to all major South Korean cities. Two rail lines, Gyeongui and Donghae Bukbu Line, to North Korea are now being reconnected. The Korean high-speed rail system, KTX, provides high-speed service along Gyeongbu and Honam Line. Major cities—including Seoul,[116] Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju—have subway systems. Metropolitan Cities (gwangyeoksi, self-governing cities that are not incorporated into any province) have express bus terminals.
Construction of South Korea's largest airport, Incheon International Airport, was completed in 2001. By 2007, the airport was serving 30 million passengers a year.[117] The airport has been selected as the "Best Airport Worldwide" for four consecutive years since 2005 by Airports Council International.[114] Other international airports include Gimpo, Busan and Jeju. There are also seven domestic airports, and a large number of heliports.[118]
Korean Air, founded in 1962, served 21,640,000 passengers, including 12,490,000 international passengers in 2008.[119] A second carrier, Asiana Airlines, established in 1988, also serves domestic and international traffic. Combined, South Korean airlines currently serve 297 international routes.[120] Smaller airliners, such as Jeju Air, provide domestic service with lower fares.
South Korea is the world's sixth largest nuclear power producer and the second-largest in Asia.[121] Nuclear power in South Korea 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 generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally. It is also a member of the ITER project.

Science and technology

Aerospace research

South Korea has launched two satellites, Arirang-1 in 1999 and Arirang-2 in 2006, as part of its space partnership with Russia.[122]
Naro Space Center, the first spaceport of South Korea, was completed in 2008 at Goheung, Jeollanam-do. The Korea Space Launch Vehicle was launched from Naro in 2009 but failed.[123]
In April 2008, Yi So-yeon became the first Korean to fly in space, aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-12.


Albert HUBO, developed by KAIST, can make expressive gestures with its 5 separate fingers
Robotics has been included in the list of main national R&D projects in Korea since 2003.[124] In 2009, the government announced plans to build robot-themed parks in Incheon and Masan with a mix of public and private funding.[125]
In 2005, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed the world's second walking humanoid robot, HUBO. A team in the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology developed the first Korean android, EveR-1 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.


Since the 1980s, the Korean government has actively invested in the development of a domestic biotechnology industry, and the sector is projected to grow to $6.5 billion by 2010.[126] The medical sector accounts for a large part of the production, including production of hepatitis vaccines and antibiotics.
Recently, research and development in genetics and cloning has received increasing attention, with the first successful cloning of a dog, Snuppy, and the cloning of two females of an endangered species of wolves by the Seoul National University in 2007.[127]
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.[128]


Education in South Korea is regarded as being crucial to one's success, and competition is consequently very heated and fierce. In the 2006 results of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, South Korea came first in problem solving, third in mathematics and eleventh in science.[129] South Korea's education system is technologically advanced and it is the world's first country to bring high-speed fibre-optic broadband internet access to every primary and secondary school nation-wide. Using this infrastructure, the country has developed the first Digital Textbooks in the world, which will be distributed for free to every primary and secondary schools nation-wide by 2013.[130]
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 the year 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.[131] 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.


South Korea is noted for its population density, which at 487 per square kilometer is 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.[132] The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. According to 2005 census, Seoul had a population of 9.8 million inhabitants. The Seoul National Capital Area has 24.5 million inhabitants making it the world's second largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.5 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1 million).[133]
The population has also been shaped by international migration. Following the division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next forty years due to emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. South Korea’s total population in 1960 was 25 million.[134] The current population of South Korea is roughly 50,062,000.[5]
South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous society in the world with more than 99 per cent of inhabitants having Korean ethnicity.[135] The Koreans call their ethnic homogeneousity of their society using the word, 단일민족국가 (Dan-il minjok gook ga, literally means the single race society.) The ethnic homogeneousity of the Korean society is often considered as a power of economic development of South Korea and a strong tool to achieve the reunification of the Korean Peninsula among the Korean people.[136]
In terms of the foreign nationals, although small, the percentage has been increasing.[137] As of 2009, South Korea had 1,106,884 foreign residents. This number covers approximately 2 percent of the entire population of South Korea; however, more than half of the foreign nationals have Korean ethnicity with a foreign citizenship. For example, Migrants from the People's Republic of China (PRC) make up 56.5% of the total, but approximately 70 percent of the Chinese citizens in Korea are Joseonjok (조선족 in Korean), PRC citizens of Korean ethnicity.[138] Regardless of the ethnicity, the Korea National Statistical Office[139] counts that there are 28,500 US military personnel currently serving in South Korea for 1 year of unaccompanied tour.[140] In addition, about 43,000 English teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa temporarily reside in Korea.[141]
South Korea's birthrate is the world's lowest.[142] If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13 percent to 42.3 million in 2050,[143] South Korea's annual birthrate is approximately 9 births per 1000 people.[144] The average life expectancy in 2008 was 79.10 years,[145] which is 40th in the world.[146]

Cities of South Korea

The figure below lists the twenty largest cities within administrative city limits; the figures below only include long-term residents.
Largest cities of South Korea


Cities Provincial level divisions Population
Cities Provincial level divisions Population Daejeon
1 Seoul Seoul 10,464,051
11 Bucheon Gyeonggi-do 884,976
2 Busan Busan 3,574,340
12 Yongin Gyeonggi-do 854,054
3 Incheon Incheon 2,758,431
13 Ansan Gyeonggi-do 739,493
4 Daegu Daegu 2,509,187
14 Cheongju Chungcheongbuk-do 648,598
5 Daejeon Daejeon 1,498,665
15 Jeonju Jeollabuk-do 639,922
6 Gwangju Gwangju 1,445,828
16 Anyang Gyeonggi-do 623,511
7 Ulsan Ulsan 1,129,827
17 Cheonan Chungcheongnam-do 551,423
8 Suwon Gyeonggi-do 1,098,449
18 Namyangju Gyeonggi-do 530,699
9 Seongnam Gyeonggi-do 979,035
19 Hwaseong Gyeonggi-do 515,162
10 Goyang Gyeonggi-do 951,001
20 Pohang Gyeongsangbuk-do 513,343


South Korea religiosity

No religion(incl. Atheism)
Roman Catholic Church
Other religions
Won Buddhism
As of 2005, just under half of the South Korean population expressed no religious preference.[147] Of the rest, most are Christian or Buddhist; according to the 2005 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.[148][149] Other religions include Islam and various new religious movements such as Jeungism, Daesunism, Cheondoism and Wonbuddhism. The earliest religion practiced was Korean shamanism.[citation needed] Today, freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state religion.[150]
Christianity is South Korea's largest religion, accounting for more than half of all South Korean religious adherents. There are approximately 15 million Christians[151] in South Korea today, with almost two-thirds of Christians belonging to Protestant churches, while about 35% belong to the Catholic Church. Roman Catholicism has been the fastest growing denomination in South Korea since the late 1980s.[152]
The major Christian denominations include Presbyterians, Pentecostals and Methodists. Seoul contains eleven of the world's twelve largest Christian congregations. The largest Christian church in South Korea, Yoido Full Gospel Church, is located in Seoul. Pyungkang Cheil Presbyterian Church in Guro-gu district is one of the largest Christian churches in South Korea. South Korea is also the second-largest missionary-sending nation, after the United States.[153]
Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the year 372.[154] According to the national census as of 2005, South Korea has over 10.7 million Buddhists.[151][155] Today, about 90% of Korean Buddhists belong to Jogye Order. Most of the National Treasures of South Korea are Buddhist artifacts. Along with Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism was also a state religion during the periods from Three Kingdoms of Korea to Goryeo before suppression under the Joseon Dynasty.[156]
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,[157] particularly Bangladesh and Pakistan.[158]

Public health and safety

The suicide rate in the nation was 26 per 100,000 in 2008, the highest in the industrialized world.[159]


South Korea shares its traditional culture with North 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.[160] The South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.[161]
The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way Korean people 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 living arrangements.
There are nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Korea.
The cheongja Unhak Sanggam Mun Maebyeong from the Goryeo Dynasty.


Korean art has been highly influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism. Korean pottery and porcelain like baekja and buncheong are well known throughout the world. Also Korean tea ceremony, pansori, talchum and buchaechum are popular Korean performing arts. Hanbok is the traditional Korean dress. Nowadays, people wear it during traditional festivals and celebrations. It has many germants like dopo (clothing), durumagi and jeogori, so it is worn as semi-formal or formal wear.


Modern skyline of Seoul and the Deoksugung palace
Pre-modern Korean architecture may be divided into two main styles: those used in palace and temple structures, and those used in the houses of common people, which consists of local variations.
Korean's ancient architects adopted the bracket system and is characterized by thatched roofs and heated floors called ondol. People of the upper classes built bigger houses with tiled roofs. The roofs were elegantly curved and accentuated with slightly uplifting eaves. There still are many sites like Hahoe Folk Village, Yangdong Village of Gyeongju and Korean Folk Village where the traditional Korean architecture is preserved.


Sujeonggwa, a traditional Korean fruit punch, garnished with pine nuts
Bulgogi, a Korean barbecue dish made of either beef or pork
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 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, noodles, tofu, vegetables, fish and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes, banchan (반찬), which accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal is accompanied by numerous banchan. Kimchi, 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, doenjang (된장), a type of fermented soybean paste, soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and gochujang (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 (국) are often made with meats, shellfish and vegetables. Similar to guk, tang (탕) has less water, and is more often served in restaurants. Another type is jjigae (찌개), a stew that is typically heavily seasoned with chili pepper and served boiling hot.


National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea is the flagship museum of Korean history and art in South Korea and is the cultural organization that represents Korea. Since its establishment in 1945, the museum has been committed to various studies and research activities in the fields of archaeology, history, and art, continuously developing a variety of exhibitions and education programs.
In October 2005, the museum opened in a new building in Yongsan Family Park in Seoul, South Korea. The museum contains over 220,000 pieces in its collection with about 13,000 pieces on display at one time. It displays relics and artifacts throughout six permanent exhibition galleries such as Archaeological Gallery, Historical Gallery, Fine Arts Gallery I, Donation Gallery, Fine Arts Gallery II, and Asian Art Gallery. It is the 6th largest museum in the world in terms of floor space, now covering a total of 137,201 square metres (1,480,000 sq ft).

War Memorial of Korea

Opened in 1994, the War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea offers visitors an educational, yet emotional experience of the many wars in which Korea was involved. Many documents and war memorabilia have been collected and are displayed. The War Memorial has several display rooms and an outdoor exhibition center displaying military equipment.
13,000 items are displayed in its six halls under different themes: Memorial Hall, War History, Korean War, Expeditionary Forces Room, ROK Armed Forces Room, and Large Equipment Room, plus the outside exhibition area. Displayed are various weapons and equipment from prehistoric times to the modern period as well as paintings of battlefields and sculptures of notable warriors and An Jung-geun, who assassinated a former Resident-General in Manchuria in 1909. About 100 large weapons are displayed in the outside exhibition area on the lawns around the building.

National Palace Museum of Korea

National Palace Museum of Korea is a national museum of South Korea located in Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul. The museum first began as the "Korean Imperial Museum", which was established on September, 1908 and was originally located in Changgyeonggung Palace. On November of the following year, the museum was opened to the public. However, on April, 1938, during the Japanese occupation, the Japanese government downgraded the museum's title to the "Museum of Yi dynasty".
In March, 1946, after the liberation of Korea, it was renamed "Deoksugung Museum". In 1991, Cultural Heritage Administration instituted the museum in Seokjojeon (석조전, Stone Hall) of Deoksugung Palace, and in 2005, the museum was relocated to a modern building inside Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The National Palace Museum of Korea houses over 40,000 artifacts from the palaces of the Joseon Dynasty and the Korean Empire. It holds the 14 National Treasures of South Korea.

National Folk Museum of Korea

The National Folk Museum of Korea is a national museum of South Korea. It is situated on the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace) in Jongno-gu, Seoul, and uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the folk history of the Korean people.
The museum was originally sited on Mt Namsan, and moved to Gyeongbokgung in 1975. The current building was built in 1972 and housed the National Museum of Korea until 1986. It was remodelled, and reopened as the National Folk Museum of Korea in 1993.

The Abraham Park Kenneth Vine Collection

Another unique museum in Guro-gu district, Seoul, is The Abraham Park Kenneth Vine Collection museum. This is a Biblical archaeology museum. It is a private museum which has been open for public viewing since 1998.
This museum displays artefacts donated by Dr. Kenneth Vine, a Biblical archaeologist. There are about 2,000 items in the collection and it includes pottery, weapons, lamps, coins, cosmetic bottles and jars from the different eras found in the Bible. There is also a mummy on display from the collection.

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 ballads 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, as the group incorporated elements of popular musical genres of rap, rock, and techno 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 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 requiring cinemas to show Korean films at least 73 days a year.
Korean television shows, especially the short form dramatic mini-series called "dramas", have also become popular outside of Korea, becoming another driving trend for the Korean Wave in Asia and elsewhere. The trend has generated internationally known Korean stars and has boosted the image of Korean popular culture. The dramas are popular mostly in Asia. The stories have a wide range, but the most prominent among the export dramas have been romance dramas, such as Winter Sonata, Autumn Fairy Tale, Full House (2004 TV series), All About Eve, and historical/fantasy dramas, such as Dae Jang Geum, The Legend, Goong and Boys Over Flowers.

Technology culture

PC bangs are popular LAN gaming centers in South Korea.
Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) on a mobile phone
South Korean corporations Samsung and LG are the second- and third-largest mobile phone companies in the world, respectively. An estimated 90% of South Koreans own a mobile phone. Aside from placing/receiving calls and text messaging, mobile phones in the country are widely used for watching Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) or viewing websites. Over one million DMB phones have been sold and the three major wireless communications providers SK Telecom, KT, and LG Telecom provide coverage in all major cities and other areas.
In recent years online games have become a significant part of Korean culture. StarCraft, a real-time strategy game, is by far the most popular televised game in South Korea. Game tournaments, recorded in places like the COEX Mall are often broadcast live on TV stations such as MBCGame and Ongamenet. 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 bangs which are basically internet cafes, dedicated to LAN games of popular titles like Kart Rider, Maple Story, World of Warcraft, Mabinogi and Lineage.


A taekwondo practitioner demonstrating dollyo chagi technique.
The martial art taekwondo originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 60s, modern rules were standardised and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, hapkido, tang soo do, kuk sool won, kumdo and subak.
Baseball was first introduced to Korea in 1905 and has since become the most popular spectator sport in South Korea.[162] The first South Korean professional sports league was the Korea Baseball Organization, established in 1982. South Korea finished third during the 2006 World Baseball Classic and second during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, South Korea won the gold medal in baseball. The Seoul Olympic Museum is a museum in Seoul, South Korea, dedicated to the 1988 Summer Olympics.
World Peace Gate at Olympic Park, Seoul
In 1988, South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul, coming fourth with 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 11 bronze medals. South Korea regularly performs well in archery, shooting, table tennis, badminton, short track speed skating, handball, hockey, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, baseball, judo, taekwondo, Speed skating, Figure Skating, and weightlifting. South Korea hosted the Asian Games in 1986 (Seoul) and 2002 (Busan), and will host again in 2014 (Incheon). It also hosted the Asian Winter Games in 1999, the Winter Universiade in 1997 and the Summer Universiade in 2003.
In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, the national football team became the first team in the Asian Football Confederation to reach the semi-finals.
South Korean athletes have won more medals in the Winter Olympics than those of any other Asian country. After the 2010 Winter Olympics, 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, however, ice hockey is coming out hard as Anyang Halla won their first ever ALIH title in March, 2010.
In 2010, South Korea will host their first Formula One race to be staged at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam, about 400 kilometres (250 mi) south of Seoul. In 2011, the South Korean city of Daegu will host the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
South Korea has three horse racing tracks of which Seoul Race Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do is the biggest