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South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
in
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, constituting the southern part of the
Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korean Peninsula
and sharing a
land border This is a list of countries and territories by land borders. The number of distinct land borders of each country or territory is indicated as well the names of its neighbouring countries and territories. The length of each land border is included, ...
with
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
. Its western border is formed by the
Yellow Sea The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% o ...

Yellow Sea
, while its eastern border is defined by the
Sea of Japan The Sea of Japan is the marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Sea of Japan
. About 25 million people, around half of the country's population of 51 million, live in the
Seoul Capital Area The Seoul Capital Area (SCA), Sudogwon (, ) or Gyeonggi region () is the metropolitan area of Seoul Seoul (, like ''soul''; ko, 서울 ; ), officially the Seoul Special City, is the Capital city, capital and largest metropolis of South Ko ...
. The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the
Lower Paleolithic 250px, Four views of an Acheulean handaxe The Lower Paleolithic (or Lower Palaeolithic) is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλ ...
period. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. Following the unification of the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
into
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
and
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the
Goryeo dynasty Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially the "Dem ...
(918–1392) and the
Joseon dynasty Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and repl ...
(1392–1897). The succeeding
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korean kingdom proclaimed in October 1897 by Emperor Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty. The empire stood until Empire of Japan, Japan's Korea under Japanese rule, annexation of Korea in ...
was annexed in 1910 into the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Empire of Japan
.
Japanese rule in Korea Korea under Japanese rule refers to the period between 1910 and 1945 which followed Korean Empire, Korea's Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910, annexation into the Empire of Japan. Joseon, Joseon Korea had come into the Japanese sphere of influence with t ...
ended following the former's surrender in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, after which Korea was divided into two zones; a northern zone occupied by the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and a
southern The name Southern may refer to: * South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earl ...
zone
occupied
occupied
by the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. After negotiations on
reunification A political union is a type of state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily new ...
failed, the latter became the Republic of Korea in August 1948 while the former became North Korea. In 1950, a North Korean invasion began the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
, which saw extensive
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
-led U.N. intervention in support of the South, while
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
intervened to support the North with Soviet assistance. After the war's end in 1953, the country's economy began to soar, recording the fastest rise in average GDP per capita in the world between 1980 and 1990. The
June Struggle The June Democratic Struggle (), also known as the June Democracy Movement and June Democratic Uprising was a nationwide Revolution, democracy movement in South Korea that generated mass protests from June 10 to June 29, 1987. The demonstrations ...
led to the end of authoritarian rule in 1987 and the country is now considered among the
most advanced democracies
most advanced democracies
in Asia, with the highest level of
press freedom Press commonly refers to: * Pressure, or the act of pressing * Printing press, commonly called "the press" * Print media, commonly called "the press" after the printing press Press may also refer to: People * Press (surname), a family name of Eng ...
. However,
political scandals In politics, a political scandal is an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage. Politicians, government officials, Political party, party officials and Lobbying, lobbyists can be accused of various il ...
have been problems in recent years; both living former South Korean
presidents President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
have been sentenced to prison for various crimes ranging from abuse of authority to
bribery Bribery is defined by ''Black's Law Dictionary ''Black's Law Dictionary'' is the most widely used law dictionary Image:Legal Dictionaries.jpg, 300px, Several English and Russian legal dictionaries A law dictionary (also known as legal dictionary) ...

bribery
and
embezzlement Embezzlement is the act of withholding asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produ ...
; with one still serving his sentence. South Korea is a
developed country A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized governm ...
and is ranked as the seventh-highest country on the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
(HDI) in the Asia and Oceania region. Its
economy An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products ...
ranks as the world's tenth-largest by nominal GDP. Its citizens enjoy one of the world's fastest Internet connection speeds and the densest high-speed railway network. The country is the world's fifth-largest exporter and eighth-largest importer. South Korea was in 2017 the world's 7th largest emitter of carbon emissions and the 5th largest emitter per capita. Since the 21st century, South Korea has been renowned for its globally influential pop culture, particularly in music (
K-pop K-pop (), short for Korean popular music, is a music genre, genre of music originating in South Korea as part of South Korean culture. It is influenced by styles and genres from around the world, such as Pop music, pop, Experimental music, e ...

K-pop
), TV dramas and
cinema Cinema may refer to: Film * Cinematography Cinematography (from ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It ...
, a phenomenon referred to as the
Korean Wave #REDIRECT Korean wave#REDIRECT Korean wave The Korean wave (, , a neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in ...
. It is a member of the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
's
Development Assistance Committee The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic or ...
, the
G20 The G20 or Group of Twenty is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located ...

G20
, and the
Paris Club The Paris Club (french: Club de Paris) is a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to find co-ordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries. As debtor countries undertake ...

Paris Club
.


Etymology

The name ''Korea'' derives from the name ''Goryeo''. The name ''Goryeo'' itself was first used by the ancient kingdom of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
, which was considered a great power of East Asia during its time, in the 5th century as a shortened form of its name. The 10th-century kingdom of
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (th ...
succeeded Goguryeo,and thus inherited its name, which was pronounced by the visiting Persian merchants as "Korea". The modern name of Koreia, appears in the first Portuguese maps of 1568 by João vaz Dourado as ''Conrai'' and later in the late 16th century and early 17th century as Korea (Corea) in the maps of Teixeira Albernaz of 1630. The kingdom of ''Goryeo'' became first known to Westerners when
Afonso de Albuquerque Afonso de Albuquerque, Duke of Goa (; 1453 – 16 December 1515) (also spelled Aphonso or Alfonso) was a Portuguese general, admiral, and statesman. He served as Governor of Portuguese India from 1509 to 1515, during which he expanded Portugues ...

Afonso de Albuquerque
conquered Malacca in 1511 and described the peoples who traded with this part of the world known by the Portuguese as the Gores. Despite the coexistence of the spellings ''Corea'' and ''Korea'' in 19th century publications, some Koreans believe that
Imperial Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Imperial Japan
, around the time of the Japanese occupation, intentionally standardized the spelling on ''Korea'', making
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
appear first alphabetically. After Goryeo was replaced by Joseon in 1392, Joseon became the official name for the entire territory, though it was not universally accepted. The new official name has its origin in the ancient kingdom of
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
(2333 BCE). In 1897, the
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
dynasty changed the official name of the country from ''Joseon'' to ''Daehan Jeguk'' (
Korean Empire The Korean Empire (transcribed as ''Daehan Jeguk'', , ) was a Korean kingdom proclaimed in October 1897 by Emperor Gojong of the Joseon Dynasty. The empire stood until Empire of Japan, Japan's Korea under Japanese rule, annexation of Korea in ...
). The name ''Daehan'' (Great Han) derives from
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
(Three Han), referring to the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
, not the ancient confederacies in the southern Korean Peninsula. However, the name ''Joseon'' was still widely used by Koreans to refer to their country, though it was no longer the official name. Under
Japanese rule Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan, an island country in East Asia * Japanese language, spoken mainly in Japan * Japanese people, the ethnic group that identifies with Japan through culture or ancestry ** Japanese diaspora ...
, the two names ''Han'' and ''Joseon'' coexisted. There were several groups who fought for independence, the most notable being the ''
Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea The Korean Provisional Government (KPG), formally the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, was a partially recognized Korean government-in-exile A government in exile (abbreviated as GiE) is a political group which claims to b ...

Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
'' ( / ). Following the
surrender of Japan The surrender of Imperial Japan was Jewel Voice Broadcast, announced by Japanese Emperor Hirohito on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, End of World War II in Asia, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the ...
, in 1945, the "Republic of Korea" ( / ,
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
: , ; ) was adopted as the legal English name for the new country. However, it is not a direct translation of the Korean name. As a result, the Korean name "Daehan Minguk" is sometimes used by South Koreans as a
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of pe ...
to refer to the Korean ethnicity (or " race") as a whole, rather than just the South Korean state. Conversely, the official name of North Korea in English, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea", is a direct translation of the Korean name. Since the government only controlled the southern part of the
Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korean Peninsula
, the informal term "South Korea" was coined, becoming increasingly common in the
Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
. While South Koreans use ''Han'' (or ''Hanguk'') to refer to both Koreas collectively, North Koreans and ethnic Koreans living in China and Japan use the term ''Joseon'' instead.


History


Ancient Korea

The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the
Lower Paleolithic 250px, Four views of an Acheulean handaxe The Lower Paleolithic (or Lower Palaeolithic) is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic or Palæolithic (), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek wikt:παλ ...
period. The
history of Korea The Lower Paleolithic era in the Korean Peninsula and Manchuria began roughly half a million years ago. Christopher J. Norton, "The Current State of Korean Paleoanthropology", (2000), ''Journal of Human Evolution'', 38: 803-825. The earliest kn ...
begins with the founding of Joseon (also known as "
Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder named Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary * :"The continuing p ...
", or Old Joseon, to differentiate it with the 14th century dynasty) in 2333 BCE by
Dangun Dangun (; ) or Dangun Wanggeom (; ) was the legendary founder and god-king of Gojoseon Gojoseon () was the first Korean kingdom that lasted until 108 BCE. According to the legend of the kingdom, the kingdom was established by the founder ...

Dangun
, according to Korea's foundation mythology.* :"An extreme manifestation of nationalism and the family cult was the revival of interest in Tangun, the mythical founder of the first Korean state... Most textbooks and professional historians, however, treat him as a myth." * :"Although Kija may have truly existed as a historical figure, Tangun is more problematical." * :"Most orean historianstreat the
angun Angoon (sometimes formerly spelled Angun, tli, Aangóon) is a city on Admiralty Island Admiralty Island is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_ ...
myth as a later creation." * :"The Tangun myth became more popular with groups that wanted Korea to be independent; the Kija myth was more useful to those who wanted to show that Korea had a strong affinity to China." * :"If a choice is to be made between them, one is faced with the fact that the Tangun, with his supernatural origin, is more clearly a mythological figure than Kija."
Gojoseon was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled the northern Korean Peninsula and parts of
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
.
Gija Joseon Gija Joseon (1120–194 BC) refers to the period of Gojoseon following the alleged arrival of the sage Jizi (Gija). Concrete evidence for Jizi's role in the history of Gojoseon is lacking, and the narrative has been challenged since the 20th c ...
was purportedly founded in the 12th century BCE, but its existence and role have been controversial in the modern era. In 108 BCE, the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
defeated Defeated may refer to: *Defeated (Breaking Benjamin song), "Defeated" (Breaking Benjamin song) *Defeated (Anastacia song), "Defeated" (Anastacia song) *"Defeated", a song by Snoop Dogg from the album ''Bible of Love'' *Defeated, Tennessee, an uninc ...
Wiman Joseon Wiman Joseon (194–108 BC) was a dynasty of Gojoseon Gojoseon (), originally named Joseon (), was an ancient Korean state on the Manchuria and Korea, Korean Peninsula. The addition of ''Go'' (, ), meaning "ancient", is used to distinguish ...
and installed in the northern Korean peninsula. Three of the commanderies fell or retreated westward within a few decades. As
Lelang commandery Lelang Commandery was a Commandery (China), commandery of the Han Dynasty established after conquering Wiman Joseon in 108 BC and lasted until Goguryeo conquered it in 313. The Lelang Commandery extend the rule of the Four Commanderies of Han as ...
was destroyed and rebuilt around this time, the place gradually moved toward Liaodong. Thus, its force was diminished and it only served as a trade center until it was conquered by
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
in 313.Early Korea
. Shsu.edu. Retrieved 17 April 2015.


Three Kingdoms of Korea

During the period known as the Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea, the states of
Buyeo Buyeo, Puyŏ or Fuyu/Fuyo (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, worl ...

Buyeo
,
Okjeo Okjeo () was an ancient Korean tribal state which arose in the northern Korean peninsula Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been divided into the two parts which soon became the two sov ...
, Dongye and
Samhan Samhan, or Three Han, is the collective name of the , , and confederacies that emerged in the first century BC during the , or Samhan, period. Located in the central and southern regions of the , the Samhan confederacies eventually merged and d ...

Samhan
occupied the whole Korean peninsula and southern Manchuria. From them,
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
,
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
and
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
emerged to control the peninsula as the
Three Kingdoms of Korea The Three Kingdoms of Korea () refers to the three kingdoms of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of ...
. Goguryeo, the largest and most powerful among them, was a highly militaristic state, and competed with various Chinese dynasties during its 700 years of history. Goguryeo experienced a golden age under
Gwanggaeto the Great Gwanggaeto the Great (374–413, r. 391–413) was the nineteenth monarch of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula and the so ...
and his son
Jangsu Jangsu County (''Jangsu-gun'') is a in Province, . It is well known for Jangsu-. Climate Twin towns – sister cities Jangsu is with: * , (1996) * , (1999) * , (1999) See also * References External links County government ho ...
, who both subdued Baekje and Silla during their times, achieving a brief unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea and becoming the most dominant power on the Korean Peninsula. In addition to contesting for control of the Korean Peninsula, Goguryeo had many military conflicts with various Chinese dynasties, most notably the
Goguryeo–Sui War The Goguryeo–Sui War were a series of invasions launched by the Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Nort ...
, in which Goguryeo defeated a huge force said to number over a million men. Baekje was a great maritime power; its nautical skill, which made it the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
of East Asia, was instrumental in the dissemination of Buddhism throughout East Asia and continental culture to Japan. Baekje was once a great military power on the Korean Peninsula, especially during the time of Geunchogo, but was critically defeated by Gwanggaeto the Great and declined. Silla was the smallest and weakest of the three, but it used cunning diplomatic means to make opportunistic pacts and alliances with the more powerful Korean kingdoms, and eventually
Tang China The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an Zhou dynasty (690–705), interregnum between 690 and 705. It was preceded by the Sui dynasty and fol ...
, to its great advantage. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the
North South States Period The Northern and Southern States period (698–926 CE) is the period in Korean history when Unified Silla Later Silla or Unified Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BC57 BC according ...
, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by
Later Silla Unified Silla or Later Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, after it conquered Baekje and Goguryeo in the 7th century, unifying the central and southern regions of the Korean pe ...
, while
Balhae Balhae ( ko, 발해) or Bohai ( zh, c=渤海, p=Bóhǎi, russian: Бохай, ) (698–926) was a multi-ethnic kingdom in Manchuria, the Korean Peninsula and the Russian Far East. The history of the founding of the state, its ethnic compositi ...

Balhae
controlled the northern parts of Goguryeo. Balhae was founded by a Goguryeo general and formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of the Russian Far East, and was called the "Prosperous Country in the East".
Later Silla Unified Silla or Later Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, after it conquered Baekje and Goguryeo in the 7th century, unifying the central and southern regions of the Korean pe ...
was a golden age of art and culture, as evidenced by the ,
Seokguram The Seokguram Grotto A grotto is a natural or artificial cave used by humans in both modern times and antiquity, and historically or prehistorically. Naturally occurring grottoes are often small caves near water that are usually flooded or ...

Seokguram
, and
Emille Bell The Bell of King Seongdeok is a large bronze Bronze is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, ...
. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. Later Silla carried on the maritime prowess of
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
, which acted like the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
of medieval
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, and during the 8th and 9th centuries dominated the seas of East Asia and the trade between China, Korea and Japan, most notably during the time of Jang Bogo; in addition, Silla people made overseas communities in China on the
Shandong Peninsula The Shandong Peninsula or Jiaodong Peninsula is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The su ...
and the mouth of the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
. Later Silla was a prosperous and wealthy country, and its metropolitan capital of
Gyeongju Gyeongju ( ko, 경주, ), historically known as ''Seorabeol'' ( ko, 서라벌, ), is a coastal city in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. It is the second largest city by area in the province after Andong, c ...

Gyeongju
was the fourth largest city in the world. Buddhism flourished during this time, and many Korean Buddhists gained great fame among Chinese Buddhists and contributed to Chinese Buddhism, including: Woncheuk,
Wonhyo Won Hyo (617 – April 28, 686) was one of the leading thinkers, writers and commentators of the Korean Buddhist tradition. Essence-Function Essence-Function (體用, Chinese pinyin: ''tǐ yòng'', Korean: ''che-yong''), also called Substance a ...
,
Uisang Uisang (625–702) was one of the most eminent early Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea ...

Uisang
, Musang, and
Kim Gyo-gak Kim Gyo-gak (김교각, 金喬覺, 696-794), or Jin Qiaojue in Mandarin, was a Korean Buddhist monk believed to be the manifestation of Ksitigarbha at Mount Jiuhua, one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism Chinese Buddhism or ...
, a Silla prince whose influence made
Mount Jiuhua Mount Jiuhua () located in Chizhou Chizhou () is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban ar ...
one of the Four
Sacred Mountains Sacred mountains are central to certain religions and are the subjects of many legends. For many, the most symbolic aspect of a mountain is the peak because it is believed that it is closest to heaven or other religious worlds. Many religions hav ...
of Chinese Buddhism. However, Later Silla weakened under internal strife and the revival of
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...
and
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
, which led to the Later Three Kingdoms period in the late 9th century.


Unified Dynasties

In 936, the Later Three Kingdoms were united by
Wang Geon Taejo of Goryeo (31 January 877 – 4 July 943), also known as Taejo Wang Geon (Wang Kǒn, 왕건), was the founder of the Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it ...

Wang Geon
, a descendant of Goguryeo nobility, who established
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (th ...
as the successor state of
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
. Balhae had fallen to the
Khitan Empire The Liao dynasty (; Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Liao Empire, officially the Great Liao (), the Khitan Empire or the Khitan (Qidan) State (Khitan: ''Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur''), was an empire and imperial dynasty in East ...
in 926, and a decade later the last crown prince of Balhae fled south to Goryeo, where he was warmly welcomed and included into the ruling family by Wang Geon, thus unifying the two successor nations of Goguryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state, and invented the metal movable type
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an ink Ink is a gel, sol, or solution Image:SaltInWaterSolutionLiquid.jpg, Making a saline water solution by dissolving Salt, table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) in water ...
. After defeating the Khitan Empire, which was the most powerful empire of its time, in the
Goryeo–Khitan War The Goryeo–Khitan War (; ) was a series of 10th- and 11th-century conflicts between the Goryeo, Goryeo dynasty of Korea and the Khitan-led Liao dynasty of China near the present-day border between China and North Korea. Background During the Thr ...
, Goryeo experienced a golden age that lasted a century, during which the
Tripitaka Koreana The ''Tripiṭaka Koreana'' (lit. ''Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo ...

Tripitaka Koreana
was completed and there were great developments in printing and publishing, promoting learning and dispersing knowledge on philosophy, literature, religion, and science; by 1100, there were 12 universities that produced famous scholars and scientists. However, the
Mongol invasions The Mongol invasions and conquests took place during the 13th and 14th centuries, creating history's largest contiguous empire - The Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest conti ...
in the 13th century greatly weakened the kingdom. Goryeo was never conquered by the Mongols, but exhausted after three decades of fighting, the Korean court sent its
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...
to the Yuan capital to swear allegiance to
Kublai Khan Kublai (; also spelled Qubilai or Kübilai; mn, Хубилай, Khubilai ; ; 23 September  1215 – 18 February 1294), also known by his temple name as Emperor Shizu of Yuan, was the fifth khagan-Emperor of China, emperor of the Mongol Empir ...

Kublai Khan
, who accepted, and married one of his daughters to the Korean crown prince. Henceforth, Goryeo continued to rule Korea, though as a tributary ally to the Mongols for the next 86 years. During this period, the two nations became intertwined as all subsequent Korean kings married Mongol princesses, and the last empress of the Yuan dynasty was a Korean princess. In the mid-14th century, Goryeo drove out the Mongols to regain its northern territories, briefly conquered
Liaoyang Liaoyang () is a prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city or prefectural city is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of C ...

Liaoyang
, and defeated invasions by the Red Turbans. However, in 1392, General
Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon (October 27, 1335 – May 24, 1408), born Yi Seong-gye (Middle Korean Middle Korean is the period in the history of the Korean language Korean ( /, ''hangugeo''; /, ''chosŏnmal'') is an Languages of East Asia, East Asian ...
, who had been ordered to attack China, turned his army around and staged a coup. Yi Seong-gye declared the new name of Korea as "Joseon" in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Hanseong (one of the old names of
Seoul Seoul (, like ''soul''; ko, 서울 ; ), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppe ...

Seoul
). The first 200 years of the Joseon dynasty were marked by peace, and saw great advancements in science and education, as well as the creation of
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's standard Romanization. in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the ...

Hangul
by
Sejong the Great Sejong the Great (세종대왕, ; 15 May 1397 – 8 April 1450) was the fourth king of the Joseon dynasty The Joseon dynasty (also transcribed as Chosŏn or Chosun, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean Korean may refer to: ...
to promote literacy among the common people. The prevailing ideology of the time was
Neo-Confucianism Neo-Confucianism (, often shortened to ''lixue'' 理學, literally "School of Principle") is a morality, moral, ethics, ethical, and metaphysics, metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, and originated with Han Yu and Li Ao (p ...
, which was epitomized by the
seonbi Seonbi or sŏnbi were virtuous scholars during the Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (th ...
class: nobles who passed up positions of wealth and power to lead lives of study and integrity. Between 1592 and 1598,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a Japanese samurai were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of History of Japan#Medieval Japan (1185–1573/1600), medieval and Edo period, early-modern Japan from the late 12th century to their abolition in 1876. ...

Toyotomi Hideyoshi
launched invasions of Korea, but his advance was halted by Korean forces (most notably the
Joseon Navy The Joseon Navy ( ko, 조선수군; Hanja Hanja (; Hanja: , , or Hancha) is the Korean name for a traditional writing system consisting mainly of Chinese characters () that was incorporated and used since the Gojoseon period (400&nb ...
led by Admiral
Yi Sun-sin Admiral Yi Sun-sin (; April 28, 1545 – December 16, 1598) was a admiral and military general famed for his victories against the Japanese navy during the in the . Yi has since been celebrated as a national hero in Korea. Over the course o ...
and his renowned "
turtle ship A Geobukseon ( ko, script=Hang, 거북선, ), also known as turtle ship in western descriptions, was a type of large Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divid ...
") "His naval victories were to prove decisive in the Japanese defeat, although Yi was to die during his final battle in 1598.""Just as a complete Japanese victory appeared imminent, Admiral Yi entered the war and quickly turned the tide.""Yi's successes gave Korea complete control of the sea lanes around the peninsula, and the Korean navy was able to intercept most of the supplies and communications between Japan and Korea"Elisonas, Jurgis. "The inseparable trinity: Japan's relations with China and Korea". ''The Cambridge History of Japan''. Vol. 4. Ed. John Whitney Hall. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. p. 278Lee, Ki-baik. A New History of Korea. Trans. Edward W. Wagner and Edward J. Schultz. Seoul: Ilchokak, 1984. pp. 212 with assistance from Righteous Army militias formed by Korean civilians, and
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
Chinese troops. Through a series of successful battles of attrition, the Japanese forces were eventually forced to withdraw, and relations between all parties became normalized. However, the
Manchus The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in N ...
took advantage of Joseon's war-weakened state and
invaded An invasion is a Offensive (military), military offensive in which large numbers of combatants of one geopolitics, geopolitical Legal entity, entity aggressively enter territory (country subdivision), territory owned by another such entity, gene ...
in 1627 and 1637, and then went on to conquer the destabilized Ming dynasty. After normalizing relations with the new
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. Kings
Yeongjo Yeongjo of Joseon (31 October 1694 – 22 April 1776, reigned 16 October 1724 – 22 April 1776) was the 21st king of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. He was the second son of Sukjong of Joseon, King Sukjong. His mother was Suk-bin Choe, Noble Conso ...
and
Jeongjo Jeongjo of Joseon (28 October 1752 – 18 August 1800) was the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (r. 1776–1800). He made various attempts to reform and improve the nation of Korea. He succeeded his grandfather Yeongjo of Joseon, King ...
particularly led a new renaissance of the Joseon dynasty during the 18th century. In the 19th century, the royal in-law families gained control of the government, leading to mass corruption and weakening of the state, and severe poverty and peasant rebellions throughout the country. Furthermore, the Joseon government adopted a strict isolationist policy, earning the nickname "the hermit kingdom", but ultimately failed to protect itself against
imperialism Imperialism is a policy or ideology of extending rule over peoples and other countries, for extending political and economic access, power and control, often through employing hard power Hard power is the use of military and economics, economi ...

imperialism
and was forced to open its borders. After the
First Sino-Japanese War The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a conflict between the Qing dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan primarily over influence in Joseon Korea. After more than six months of unbroken successes by Japanese lan ...

First Sino-Japanese War
and the
Russo-Japanese War The Russo-Japanese War (russian: Ру́сско-япóнская войнá, Rússko-yapónskaya voyná; ja, 日露戦争, Nichiro sensō, Japanese-Russian War) was fought between the Empire of Japan The was a historical natio ...
, Korea was
annexed by Japan File:Gulf War Saudi Flag.JPEG, upCivilians and coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti flag, Kuwaiti and Saudi flag, Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the Liberation of Kuwait, reversal of the Kuwait Governorate, annexation of Kuwait by Ba'at ...
(1910–1945). Towards the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the U.S. proposed dividing the Korean peninsula into two occupation zones (a U.S. and Soviet one).
Dean Rusk David Dean Rusk (February 9, 1909December 20, 1994) was the United States Secretary of State The United States secretary of state implements foreign policy for the U.S. government as the head of the U.S. Department of State. Created in 17 ...

Dean Rusk
and Charles H. Bonesteel III suggested the 38th parallel as the dividing line, as it placed Seoul under U.S. control. To the surprise of Rusk and Bonesteel, the Soviets accepted their proposal and agreed to divide Korea.


Modern history

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the
1943 Cairo Declaration The Cairo Declaration was the outcome of the Cairo Conference Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , ) is the capital of Egypt and the List of largest cities in the Arab world, largest city in the Arab world. The Greater Cairo metropol ...
, escalating
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
antagonism between the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
eventually led to the establishment of separate governments, each with its own ideology, leading to the
division of Korea For centuries before 1945, Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially ...
into two political entities in 1948:
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

North Korea
and South Korea. In the South,
Syngman Rhee Syngman Rhee (, ; 26 March 1875 – 19 July 1965) was a founding father of the Republic of Korea, who served as the first president of South Korea The President of the Republic of Korea (), also known as the President of South Korea, (of ...

Syngman Rhee
, an opponent of communism, who had been backed and appointed by the United States as head of the provisional government, won the first presidential elections of the newly declared Republic of Korea in May. In the North, however, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist,
Kim Il-sung , relatives = Kim family , residence = Pyongyang, North Korea , profession = Politician , allegiance = , branch = Red Army The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army,) frequently short ...

Kim Il-sung
, was appointed premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in September. In October, the Soviet Union declared Kim Il-sung's government as sovereign over both parts. The UN declared Rhee's government as "a lawful government having effective control and jurisdiction over that part of Korea where the UN Temporary Commission on Korea was able to observe and consult" and the Government "based on elections which was observed by the Temporary Commission" in addition to a statement that "this is the only such government in Korea.""195 (III) The problem of the independence of Korea"
, 12 December 1948, ''Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly During its Third Session'', p. 25.
Both leaders began an authoritarian repression of their political opponents inside their region, seeking for a unification of Korea under their control. While South Korea's request for military support was denied by the United States, North Korea's military was heavily reinforced by the Soviet Union.


Korean War

On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, sparking the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
, the Cold War's first major conflict, which continued until 1953. 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 an ebb and flow that saw both sides facing defeat with massive losses among Korean civilians in both the north and the south, the war eventually reached a stalemate. During the war, Rhee's party promoted the One-People Principle (based on the German
ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of ...
of the '' Herrenvolk'') an effort to build an obedient citizenry through
ethnic An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason Reason is the capacity of consciously a ...

ethnic
homogeneity and authoritarian appeals to
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
.Su-kyoung Hwang, ''Korea's Grievous War.'' Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016; pg. 90–95. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the
demilitarized zone A demilitarized zone (DMZ or DZ) is an area in which treaties or agreements between nations, military powers or contending groups forbid military installations, activities or personnel. A DMZ often lies along an established frontier or bounda ...
near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, resulting in the two countries remaining technically at war. Approximately 3 million people died in the Korean War, with a higher proportional civilian death toll than
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
or the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, making it perhaps the deadliest conflict of the Cold War-era. In addition, virtually all of Korea's major cities were destroyed by the war.


Post-Korean War (1960–1990)

In 1960, a student uprising (the "April 19 Revolution") led to the resignation of the autocratic . This was followed by 13 months of political instability as South Korea was led by a weak and ineffectual government. This instability was broken by the 16 May 1961, coup led by General
Park Chung-hee Park Chung-hee (; 14 November 1917 – 26 October 1979) was a South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, Mc ...

Park Chung-hee
. As president, Park oversaw a period of rapid export-led economic growth enforced by political repression. Park was heavily criticized as a ruthless military dictator, who in 1972 extended his rule by creating a new constitution, which gave the president sweeping (almost dictatorial) powers and permitted him to run for an unlimited number of six-year terms. The Korean economy developed significantly during Park's tenure. The government developed the nationwide expressway system, the Seoul subway system, and laid the foundation for economic development during his 17-year tenure, which ended with his assassination in 1979. The years after Park's assassination were marked again by political turmoil, as the previously suppressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1979, General
Chun Doo-hwan Chun Doo-hwan (; or ; born 6 March 1931) is a former South Korean politician and army general who served as the President of South Korea from 1980 to 1988. From December 1979 to September 1980, he was the country's ''de facto'' leader, rulin ...

Chun Doo-hwan
led the Coup d'état of December Twelfth. Following the Coup d'état, Chun Doo-hwan planned to rise to power through several measures. On 17 May, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to the island of Jejudo. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities, and further curtailed the press. Chun's assumption of the presidency through the events of 17 May triggered nationwide protests demanding democracy; these protests were particularly focused in the city of Gwangju, to which Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju massacre, 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 South Korea under a despotic rule until 1987, when a Seoul National University student, Bak Jongcheol, Park Jong-chul, was tortured to death. On , the Catholic Priests Association for Justice revealed the incident, igniting the June Democracy Movement around the country. Eventually, Chun's party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo, 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. Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, Olympic Games in 1988, widely regarded as successful and a significant boost for South Korea's global image and economy. United Nations Security Council Resolution 702, South Korea was formally invited to become a member of the United Nations in 1991. The transition of Korea from autocracy to modern democracy was marked in 1997 by the election of Kim Dae-jung, who was sworn in as the eighth president of South Korea, on 25 February 1998. His election was significant given that he had in earlier years been a political prisoner sentenced to death (later commuted to exile). He won against the backdrop of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, where he took IMF advice to restructure the economy and the nation soon recovered its economic growth, albeit at a slower pace.


Contemporary South Korea

In June 2000, as part of president Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine Policy" of engagement, a Inter-Korean summit, 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". However, because of discontent among the population for fruitless approaches to the North under the previous administrations and, amid North Korean provocations, a conservative government was elected in 2007 led by President Lee Myung-bak, former mayor of Seoul. Meanwhile, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, Japan–Korea relations, South Korean and Japanese relations later Japan–Korea disputes, soured because of conflicting claims of sovereignty over the Liancourt Rocks dispute, Liancourt Rocks. In 2010, there was an List of border incidents involving North and South Korea, escalation in attacks by North Korea. In March 2010 the South Korean warship ROKS Cheonan sinking, ROKS Cheonan was sunk with the loss of 46 South Korean sailors, allegedly by a North Korean submarine. In November 2010 Bombardment of Yeonpyeong, Yeonpyeong island was attacked by a significant North Korean artillery barrage, with 4 people losing their lives. The lack of a strong response to these attacks from both South Korea and the international community (the official UN report declined to explicitly name North Korea as the perpetrator for the Cheonan sinking) caused significant anger with the South Korean public. South Korea saw another milestone in 2012 with the first ever female president Park Geun-hye 2012 South Korean presidential election, elected and assuming office. Daughter of another former president,
Park Chung-hee Park Chung-hee (; 14 November 1917 – 26 October 1979) was a South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, Mc ...

Park Chung-hee
, she carried on a conservative brand of politics. President Park Geun-hye's administration was formally accused of corruption, bribery, and influence-peddling for the involvement of close friend Choi Soon-sil in state affairs. There followed a series of 2016–17 South Korean protests, massive public demonstrations from November 2016 and she was removed from office. After the fallout of President Park's impeachment and dismissal, new elections were held and Moon Jae-in of the Democratic party won the presidency, assuming office on 10 May 2017. His tenure so far has seen an improving political relationship with North Korea, some increasing divergence in the military alliance with the United States, and the successful hosting of 2018 Winter Olympics, the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea, The COVID-19 pandemic affected the nation in 2020. That same year, South Korea recorded more deaths than births, resulting in a population decline for the first time on record.


Geography, climate and environment


Geography

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the
Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korean Peninsula
, which extends some from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the
Yellow Sea The Yellow Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% o ...

Yellow Sea
to the west, and the
Sea of Japan The Sea of Japan is the marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97% ...

Sea of Japan
to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea. The country, including all its islands, lies between latitudes 33rd parallel north, 33° and 39th parallel north, 39°N, and longitudes 124th meridian east, 124° and 130th meridian east, 130°E. Its total area is . 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, drainage basin, 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.Geography of Korea
Asia Info Organization
South Korea is home to three terrestrial ecoregions: Central Korean deciduous forests, Manchurian mixed forests, and Southern Korea evergreen forests. South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable land, arable. Lowlands, 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 is about off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of . Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches Above mean sea level, above sea level. The easternmost islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo/Takeshima), while Marado and Socotra Rock are the southernmost islands of South Korea. South Korea has National parks of South Korea, 20 national parks and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields, Suncheon Ecological Park, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, and the first national park of Jirisan.


Climate

South Korea tends to have a humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate, and is affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation (meteorology), precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called ''East Asian rainy season, jangma'' (:ko:장마, 장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is , and the average August temperature range is . 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 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 tropical cyclone, typhoons that bring strong winds, heavy rains and sometimes floods. The average annual precipitation varies from in
Seoul Seoul (, like ''soul''; ko, 서울 ; ), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppe ...

Seoul
to in Busan.


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 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 saving time 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 that will be 10 times faster than broadband facilities, in order to reduce energy usage. The renewable portfolio standard program with Renewable Energy Certificate (United States), renewable energy certificates runs from 2012 to 2022. Quota systems favor large, vertically integrated generators and multinational electric utilities, if only because certificates are generally denominated in units of one megawatt-hour. They are also more difficult to design and implement than a Feed-in tariff.Renewable Energy Policy Mechanisms by Paul Gipe
(1.3MB)
Lauber, V. (2004). "REFIT and RPS: Options for a harmonized Community framework", ''Energy Policy'', Vol. 32, Issue 12, pp. 1405–1414.
Lauber, V. (2008). "Certificate Trading – Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?" Ljubljana Conference on the Future of GHG Emissions Trading in the EU, March 2008. Salzburg, Austria: University of Salzburg. Retrieved 16 March 2009 at www.uni-salzburg.at/politikwissenschaft/lauber
Around 350 residential micro combined heat and power units were installed in 2012. In 2017, South Korea was the world's 7th largest emitter of carbon emissions and the 5th largest emitter per capita. The president Moon Jae-in pledged to reduce Greenhouse gas, greenhouse gas emissions – which contribute to climate change – to zero in 2050. Seoul's tap water 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 projects. Another multibillion-dollar project was the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, 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 had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 6.02/10, ranking it 87th globally out of 172 countries. South Korea is a member of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty System, Antarctic Treaty, Convention on Biological Diversity, Biodiversity Treaty, Kyoto Protocol (forming the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), regarding United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, with Mexico and Switzerland), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Desertification, CITES, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification Convention, Environmental Modification, Basel Convention, Hazardous Wastes, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Law of the Sea, Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft, Marine Dumping, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (not into force), Montreal Protocol, Ozone Layer Protection, MARPOL 73/78, Ship Pollution, International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1983, Tropical Timber 83, International Tropical Timber Agreement, 1994, Tropical Timber 94, Ramsar Convention, Wetlands, and International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, Whaling.


Government

The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of South Korea, Constitution of the Republic of Korea. Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive (government), executive, judiciary, judicial, and legislature, 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 constitution 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. Under its current constitution the state is sometimes referred to as the Sixth Republic of South Korea. The first direct Elections in South Korea, election was also held in 1948. Although South Korea experienced a series of military dictatorships from the 1960s until the 1980s, it has since developed into a successful liberal democracy. Today, the The World Factbook, CIA World Factbook describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy". South Korea is ranked 45th on the Corruption Perceptions Index (9th in the Asia-Pacific region), with a score of 57 out of 100.


Administrative divisions

The major administrative divisions in South Korea are eight provinces, one special self-governing province, six metropolitan cities (self-governing cities that are not part of any province), one special city and one special self-governing city.


Demographics

In April 2016, South Korea's population was estimated to be around 50.8 million by National Statistical Office (South Korea), National Statistical Office, with continuing decline of working age population and total fertility rate. In a further indication of South Korea's dramatic decline in fertility, in 2020 the country recorded more deaths than births, resulting in a population decline for the first time since modern records began. The country is noted for its population density, which was an estimated 505 per square kilometer in 2015, more than 10 times the global average. Aside from micro-states and city-states, South Korea is the world's third most densely-populated country. In practice the population density in much of South Korea is higher than the national one, as most of the country's land is uninhabitable due to being used for other purposes such as farming. Most South Koreans live in urban areas, because of rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The capital city of
Seoul Seoul (, like ''soul''; ko, 서울 ; ), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppe ...

Seoul
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 has inhabitants (about half of South Korea's entire population) making it the world's second largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Busan (), Incheon (), Daegu (), Daejeon (), Gwangju () and Ulsan (). The population has also been shaped by international migration. After World War II and the division of Korea, division of the Korean Peninsula, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next 40 years because of emigration, especially to North America through the United States and Canada. South Korea's total population in 1955 was , and has more than doubled, to 50 million, by 2010. South Korea is considered one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world Demographics of South Korea#Ethnic groups, with ethnic Koreans representing approximately 96% of total population. Precise numbers are difficult since statistics do not record ethnicity and given many Korean diaspora, immigrants are ethnically Korean themselves, and some South Korean citizens are not ethnically Korean. The percentage of foreign nationals has been growing rapidly. , South Korea had 1,413,758 foreign residents, 2.75% of the population; however, many of them are ethnic Koreans with a foreign citizenship. For example, Chinese people in South Korea, migrants from China (PRC) make up 56.5% of foreign nationals, but approximately 70% of the Chinese citizens in Korea are (), PRC citizens of Korean ethnicity. Regardless of the ethnicity, there are 28,500 United States Forces Korea, US military personnel serving in South Korea, most serving a one-year unaccompanied tour (though approximately 10% serve longer tours accompanied by family), according to the Korea National Statistical Office. In addition, about 43,000 English teachers from English-speaking countries reside temporarily in Korea. Currently, South Korea has one of the highest rates of growth of foreign born population, with about 30,000 foreign born residents obtaining South Korean citizenship every year since 2010. Large numbers of ethnic Koreans live overseas, sometimes in Korean ethnic neighbourhoods also known as Koreatowns. The four largest diaspora population can be found in Koreans in China, China (2.3 million), the Korean Americans, United States (1.8 million), Koreans in Japan, Japan (0.85 million), and Korean Canadians, Canada (0.25 million). South Korea's birth rate was the world's lowest in 2009, at an annual rate of approximately 9 births per 1000 people. Fertility saw some modest increase afterwards, but dropped to a new global low in 2017, with fewer than 30,000 births per month for the first time since records began and less than 1 child per woman in 2018. The average life expectancy in 2008 was 79.10 years, (which was 34th in the world) but by 2015 it had increased to around 81. South Korea has the steepest decline in working age population of the OECD nations. In 2015, National Statistical Office estimated that the population of the country will have reached its peak by 2035.


Education

A centralized administration in South Korea oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to the third and final year of high school. The school year is divided into two semesters, the first of which begins at 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 consist of trousers and white shirts, and girls wear skirts and white shirts (this only applies in middle schools and high schools). The country adopted a new educational program to increase the number of their foreign students through 2010. According to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (South Korea), Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of scholarships for foreign students in South Korea would have (under the program) doubled by that time, and the number of foreign students would have reached 100,000. South Korea is one of the top-performing
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences with the average student scoring 519, compared with the OECD average of 492, placing it ninth in the world. The country has one of the world's highest-educated labour forces among OECD countries. The country is well known for its highly feverish outlook on education, where its national obsession with education has been called "education fever". This obsession with education has catapulted the resource-poor nation consistently atop the global education rankings. In 2014, South Korea ranked second worldwide (after Singapore) in the national rankings of students' math and science scores by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) . Higher education is a serious issue in South Korean society, where it is viewed as one of the fundamental cornerstones of South Korean life. Education is regarded with a high priority for South Korean families, as success in education is often a source of pride for families and within South Korean society at large, and is a necessity to improve one's socioeconomic position in South Korean society. South Koreans view education as the main propeller of social mobility for themselves and their family, as a gateway to the South Korean middle class. Graduating from a top university is the ultimate marker of prestige, high socioeconomic status, promising marriage prospects, and a respectable career path. The entrance into a top-tier higher educational institution leads to a prestigious, secure and well-paid white collar job with the government, banks, or a major South Korean conglomerate such as Samsung, Hyundai Group, Hyundai or LG Electronics. With incredible pressure on high school students to secure places at the nation's best universities, its institutional reputation and alumni networks are strong predictors of future career prospects. The top three universities in South Korea, often referred to as "SKY", are Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. An average South Korean student's life revolves around education, with intense competition for top grades, pressure to succeed academically and being the top student deeply ingrained in the psyche of South Korean students at a young age. Yet with only so many places at the nation's most prestigious universities and even fewer places at top-tier companies, many young people remain disappointed and are often unwilling to lower their sights with the result of many feeling as though they are underachievers. There is a major cultural taboo in South Korean society attached to those who have not achieved formal university education, where those who do not hold university degrees face social prejudice and are often looked down by others as second-class citizens. This often results in fewer opportunities for employment, improvement of one's socioeconomic position and prospects for marriage. In 2015, the country spent 5.1% of its GDP on all levels of education – roughly 0.8 percentage points above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 4.3%. A strong investment in education, a militant drive for success, as well as the passion for excellence has helped the resource-poor country rapidly grow its economy over the past 60 years from a war-torn wasteland to a prosperous first-world country. International opinion regarding the South Korean education system has been divided. It has been praised for various reasons, including its comparatively high test results and its major role in generating South Korea's Miracle on the Han River, economic development, creating one of the world's most educated workforces. South Korea's highly enviable academic performance has persuaded British education ministers to actively remodel their own curriculums and exams to try to emulate Korea's militant drive and passion for excellence and high educational achievement. Former U.S. President Barack Obama has also praised the country's rigorous school system, where over 80 percent of South Korean high school graduates go on to university. The nation's high university entrance rate has created a highly skilled workforce, making South Korea among the most highly educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree."Korea: Overview of the Education System (EAG 2019)"
(2019). ''GPSEducation.OECD.org''.
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
In 2017, the country ranked fifth for the percentage of 25 to 64 year old's that have attained tertiary education with 47.7 percent. In addition, 69.8 percent of South Koreans aged 25–34 have completed some form of tertiary education qualification, and bachelor's degrees are held by 34.2 percent of South Koreans aged 25–64, the most in the OECD. The system's rigid and hierarchical structure has been criticized for stifling creativity and innovation; described as intensely and "brutally" competitive, the system is often blamed for the high Suicide in South Korea, suicide rate in the country, particularly the growing rates among those aged 10–19. Various media outlets attribute the country's high suicide rate to the nationwide anxiety around the country's college entrance exams, which determine the trajectory of students' entire lives and careers. Former South Korean ''hagwon'' teacher Se-Woong Koo wrote that the South Korean education system amounts to child abuse and that it should be "reformed and restructured without delay". The system has also been criticized for producing an excess supply of university graduates creating an overeducated and underemployed labor force; in the first quarter of 2013 alone, nearly 3.3 million South Korean university graduates were jobless, leaving many graduates overqualified for jobs requiring less education. Further criticism has been stemmed for causing labor shortages in various skilled blue collar labor and vocational occupations, where many go unfilled as the negative social stigma associated with vocational careers and not having a university degree continues to remain deep-rooted in South Korean society.


Language

Korean is the official language of South Korea, and is classified by most linguists as a language isolate. It incorporates a significant number of loan words from Chinese. Korean uses an indigenous writing system called
Hangul The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, . Hangul may also be written as following South Korea's standard Romanization. in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the ...

Hangul
, created in 1446 by Sejong the Great, King Sejong, to provide a convenient alternative to the Classical Chinese Hanja characters that were difficult to learn and did not fit the Korean language well. South Korea still uses some Chinese Hanja characters in limited areas, such as print media and legal documentation. The Korean language in South Korea has a South Korean standard language, standard dialect known as the Seoul dialect (after the capital city), with an additional four dialects (Chungcheong dialect, Chungcheong, Gangwon dialect, Gangwon, Gyeongsang dialect, Gyeongsang, and Jeolla dialect, Jeolla) and one language (Jeju language, Jeju) in use around the country. Almost all South Korean students today learn Education in South Korea#English education, English throughout their education, with some optionally choosing Japanese or Mandarin as well.


Religion

According to the results of the census of 2015, more than half of the South Korean population (56.1%) declared themselves not affiliated with any organized religion, religious organizations. In a 2012 survey, 52% declared themselves "religious", 31% said they were "not religious" and 15% identified themselves as "convinced atheism, atheists". Of the people who are affiliated with a religious organization, most are Christianity, Christians and Korean Buddhism, Buddhists. According to the 2015 census, 27.6% of the population were Christians (19.7% identified themselves as Protestants, 7.9% as Roman Catholics) and 15.5% were Buddhists. Other religions include Islam in South Korea, Islam (130,000 Muslims, mostly migrant workers from Pakistan and Bangladesh but including some 35,000 Korean Muslims), the homegrown sect of Won Buddhism, and a variety of indigenous religions, including Cheondoism (a Confucianism, Confucianizing religion), Jeungsanism, Daejongism, Daesun Jinrihoe, and others. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution, and there is no state religion. Overall, between the 2005 and 2015 censuses, there has been a slight decline of Christianity (down from 29% to 27.6%), a sharp decline of Buddhism (down from 22.8% to 15.5%), and a rise of the unaffiliated population (from 47.2% to 56.9%). Christianity is South Korea's largest organized religion, accounting for more than half of all South Korean adherents of religious organizations. There are approximately 13.5 million Christians in South Korea today; about two thirds of them belonging to Protestant churches, and the rest to the Catholic Church. The number of Protestants has been stagnant throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, but increased to a peak level throughout the 2010s. Roman Catholics increased significantly between the 1980s and the 2000s, but declined throughout the 2010s. Christianity, unlike in other East Asian countries, found fertile ground in Korea in the 18th century, and by the end of the 18th century it persuaded a large part of the population, as the declining monarchy supported it and opened the country to widespread proselytism as part of a project of Westernization. The weakness of Korean Korean shamanism, Sindo, which - unlike Japanese Shinto and Chinese folk religion, China's religious system - never developed into a national religion of high status, combined with the impoverished state of Korean Buddhism, (after 500 years of suppression at the hands of the Joseon state, by the 20th century it was virtually extinct) left a free hand to Christian churches. Christianity's similarity to native religious narratives has been studied as another factor that contributed to its success in the peninsula. The Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese colonization of the first half of the 20th century further strengthened the identification of Christianity with Korean nationalism, as the Japanese coopted native Korean Sindo into the Nipponic Shinto in Korea, Imperial Shinto that they tried to establish in the peninsula.''Korean Social Sciences Journal'', 24 (1997). Korean Social Science Research Council. pp. 33–53 Widespread Christianization of the Koreans took place during State Shinto, after its abolition, and then in the independent South Korea as the newly established military government supported Christianity and misin tapa undong, tried to utterly oust native Sindo. Among Christian denominations, Presbyterianism in South Korea, Presbyterianism is the largest. About nine million people belong to one of the hundred different Presbyterian churches; the biggest ones are the Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDong), HapDong Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in Korea (TongHap), TongHap Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Koshin), Koshin Presbyterian Church. South Korea is also the second-largest missionary-sending nation, after the United States. Buddhism was introduced to Korea in the 4th century. It soon became a dominant religion in the southeastern kingdom of
Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BCE57 BCE according to the '' Samguk Sagi''; however Seth 2010 notes that "these dates are dutifully given in many textbooks and published materials in Korea today, but their basis is in myth; only Goguryeo may be traced ...

Silla
, the region that hitherto hosts the strongest concentration of Buddhists in South Korea. In the other states of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, Three Kingdoms Period,
Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
and
Baekje Baekje (; (also Paekche); 18 BC"Korea, 1–500 A.D.". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?period=05®ion=eak (October 2000) – 660 AD) was a kingdom ...

Baekje
, it was made the state religion respectively in 372 and 528. It remained the state religion in
Later Silla Unified Silla or Later Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, after it conquered Baekje and Goguryeo in the 7th century, unifying the central and southern regions of the Korean pe ...
(
North South States Period The Northern and Southern States period (698–926 CE) is the period in Korean history when Unified Silla Later Silla or Unified Silla (, ) is the name often applied to the Korean kingdom of Silla Silla or Shilla (57 BC57 BC according ...
) and
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (th ...
. It was later suppressed throughout much of the subsequent history under the unified kingdom of Joseon (1392–1897), which officially adopted a strict Korean Confucianism. Today, South Korea has about 7 million Buddhists, most of them affiliated to the Jogye Order. Most of the National Treasures of South Korea are Buddhist artifacts.


Health

South Korea has a universal healthcare system. It has the world's second best healthcare system. Suicide in South Korea is the List of countries by suicide rate, 10th highest in the world according to the World Health Organization, as well as the highest suicide rate in the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
. South Korean hospitals have advanced medical equipment and facilities readily available, ranking 4th for MRI units per capita and 6th for CT scanners per capita in the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
. It also had the OECD's List of countries by hospital beds, second largest number of hospital beds per 1000 people at 9.56 beds. Life expectancy has been rising rapidly and South Korea List of countries by life expectancy, ranked 11th in the world for life expectancy at 82.3 years by the WHO in 2015. It also has the List of countries by life expectancy, third highest health adjusted life expectancy in the world.


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 1 January 2007, former South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon served as United Nations Secretary-General, UN Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016. 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). In November 2009, South Korea joined the OECD
Development Assistance Committee The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic or ...
, 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, a year that saw South Korea and the European Union conclude a European Union–South Korea Free Trade Agreement, free trade agreement (FTA) to reduce trade barriers. South Korea went on to sign a Canada–South Korea Free Trade Agreement, Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Australia–Korea Free Trade Agreement, Australia in 2014, and another with New Zealand free-trade agreements, New Zealand in 2015.


North Korea

Both North and South Korea claim complete sovereignty over the entire peninsula and outlying islands. Despite mutual animosity, reconciliation efforts have continued since the initial separation between North and South Korea. Political figures such as Kim Koo worked to reconcile the two governments even after the Korean War. With longstanding animosity following the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace. On 4 October 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. Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993 North Korean missile test, 1993, 1998 North Korean missile test, 1998, 2006 North Korean nuclear test, 2006, 2009 North Korean nuclear test, 2009, and 2013 North Korean missile tests, 2013. By early 2009, 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 27 May 2009, North Korean media declared that the Armistice is no longer valid because of the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative. To further complicate and intensify strains between the two nations, the ROKS Cheonan sinking, sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 was 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 Kaesong Industrial Region, a joint industrial zone in Kaesong, but backtracked on its threats and decided to continue its ties with South Korea. Despite the continuing ties, the Kaesong Industrial Region has seen a large decrease in investment and manpower as a result of this military conflict. In February 2016, the Kaesong complex was closed by Seoul in reaction to North Korea's launch of a rocket earlier in the month, which was unanimously condemned by the United Nations Security Council. The 2017 election of President Moon Jae-in has seen a change in approach towards the North, and both sides used the South Korean-held 2018 Winter Olympics as an opportunity for engagement, with a very senior North Korean political delegation sent to the games, along with a reciprocal visit by senior South Korean cabinet members to the North soon afterwards.


China and Russia

Historically, Korea had close relations with the dynasties in China, and some Korean kingdoms were members of the Imperial Chinese tributary system. The Korean kingdoms also ruled over some Chinese kingdoms including the Khitan people and the Manchurians before the Qing dynasty and received tributes from them. In modern times, 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 The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

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 24 August 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 Taiwan, Republic of China (Taiwan) upon gaining official relations with the People's Republic of China, which does not recognize Political status of Taiwan#Position of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan's sovereignty. China has become South Korea's largest trading partner by far, sending 26% of South Korean exports in 2016 worth $124 billion, as well as an additional $32 billion worth of exports to Hong Kong. South Korea is also China's 4th largest trading partner, with $93 billion of Chinese imports in 2016. The 2017 deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, THAAD defense missiles by the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
military in South Korea in response to North Korean missile tests has been protested strongly by the Chinese government, concerned that the technologically advanced missile defense could be used more broadly against China. Relations between the governments have cooled in response, with South Korean commercial and cultural interests in China having been targeted, and Chinese tourism to South Korea having been curtailed. The situation was largely resolved by South Korea making significant military concessions to China in exchange for THAAD, including not deploying any more anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea and not participating in an alliance between the United States and Japan. South Korea and Russia are participants in the Six-party talks on the North Korea's nuclear proliferation issue. Moon Jae-in's administration has focused on increasing South Korea's consumption of natural gas. These plans include re-opening dialogue around a List of countries by natural gas exports, natural gas pipeline that would come from Russia and pass through North Korea. In June 2018, president Moon Jae-in became the first South Korean leader to speak in the State Duma, Russian Parliament. On 22 June, Moon Jae-in and Putin signed a document for foundation of free trade area.


Japan

Korea and Japan have had History of Japan–Korea relations, difficult relations since ancient times, but also significant cultural exchange, with Korea acting as the gateway between Asia and Japan. Contemporary perceptions of Japan are still largely defined by Korea under Japanese rule, Japan's 35 year colonization of Korea in the 20th century, which is Anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea, generally regarded in South Korea as having been very negative. Japan is today South Korea's third largest trading partner, with 12% ($46 billion) of exports in 2016. There were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan directly after independence the end of World War II in 1945. South Korea and Japan eventually 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 Korea, anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea because of a number of unsettled Japan–Korea disputes, Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Korea under Japanese rule, Japanese occupation after the Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910, Japanese annexation of Korea. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans served in the Imperial Japanese Army. Korean women were coerced and forced to serve the Imperial Japanese Army as sexual slaves, called comfort women, in both Korea and throughout the Japanese war fronts. Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the Historical revisionism (negationism), negationist Japanese history textbook controversies, re-writing of Japanese textbooks relating Japanese atrocities during World War II, the territorial disputes over the Liancourt Rocks, known in South Korea as "Dokdo" and in Japan as "Takeshima", and visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine, honoring Japanese people (civilians and military) killed during the war continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. The Liancourt Rocks were the first Korean territories to be forcibly colonized by Japan in 1905. Although it was again returned to Korea along with the rest of its territory in 1951 with the signing of the Treaty of San Francisco, Japan does not recant on its claims that the Liancourt Rocks are Japanese territory. In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, former President of South Korea, President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan in 2009. A summit between the nations' leaders was eventually held on 9 February 2018 during the 2018 Winter Olympics, Korean held Winter Olympics. South Korea asked International Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the Japanese Rising Sun Flag from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the IOC said in a statement "sports stadiums should be free of any political demonstration. When concerns arise at games time we look at them on a case-by-case basis."


European Union

The European Union (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 1 July 2011. South Korea is the EU's tenth largest trade partner, and the EU has become South Korea's fourth largest export destination. EU trade with South Korea exceeded €90 billion in 2015 and has enjoyed an annual average growth rate of 9.8% between 2003 and 2013. 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 because of 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.


United States

The close relationship began directly after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, when the United States temporarily administrated Korea for three years (mainly in the South, with the Soviet Union engaged in North Korea) after Japan. Upon the onset of the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
in 1950, U.S. forces were sent to defend against an invasion from North Korea of the South, and subsequently fought United States in the Korean War, as the largest contributor of UN troops. The United States participation was critical for preventing the Battle of Pusan Perimeter, near defeat of the Republic of Korea by northern forces, as well as fighting back for the territory gains that define the South Korean nation today. 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 Ocean, 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 {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
. The US has United States Forces Korea, over 23,000 troops stationed in South Korea, including the US Eighth Army, U.S. Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force, and Commander Naval Forces Korea, U.S. Naval Forces 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. The two nations also share a close economic relationship, with the U.S being South Korea's second largest International trade, trading partner, receiving $66 billion in exports in 2016. In 2007, a free trade agreement known as the South Korea – United States Free Trade Agreement, Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was signed between South Korea and the United States, but its formal implementation was repeatedly delayed, pending approval by the legislative bodies of the two countries. On 12 October 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the long-stalled trade agreement with South Korea. It went into effect on 15 March 2012.


Military

Unresolved tension with North Korea has 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 seventh largest number of List of countries by number of total troops, active troops (599,000 in 2018), the world's highest number of List of countries by size of armed forces, reserve troops (3,100,000 in 2018) and the tenth largest List of countries by military expenditures, defense budget. As of 2019 South Korea has a defense budget of $43.1 billion. The South Korean military is ranked as the 6th most powerful military force in the world as of 2020. The South Korean military consists of the Republic of Korea Army, Army (ROKA), the Republic of Korea Navy, Navy (ROKN), the Republic of Korea Air Force, Air Force (ROKAF), and the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, Marine Corps (ROKMC), and reserve forces. Many of these forces are concentrated near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically 18 months. Previous exceptions for South Korean citizens of mixed race no longer apply since 2011. In addition to male conscription in South Korea's sovereign military, 1,800 Korean males are selected every year to serve 18 months in the KATUSA Program to further augment the United States Forces Korea (USFK). In 2010, South Korea was spending South Korean won, ₩1.68 trillion in a cost-sharing agreement with the US to provide budgetary support to the US forces in Korea, on top of the ₩29.6 trillion budget for its own military. The South Korean army has 2,500 tanks 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 M109 howitzer, K55 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 fire, counter-battery suppression of North Korea's large artillery force, which operates more than 13,000 artillery systems deployed in various state of fortification and mobility. The South Korean navy 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 destroyers, Dokdo class amphibious assault ship, Air-independent propulsion, AIP-driven Type 214 submarines, and King Sejong the Great class destroyers, which is equipped with the latest baseline of Aegis combat system, Aegis fleet-defense 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 operates 840 aircraft, making it world's ninth largest air force, including several types of advanced fighters like F-15K, heavily modified F-16 Fighting Falcon variants#KF-16, KF-16C/D, and the indigenous T-50 Golden Eagle, supported by well-maintained fleets of older fighters such as McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, F-4E and Northrop F-5, 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 C4ISTAR, centralized intelligence gathering and analysis on a modern battlefield, will enhance the fighters' and other support aircraft's ability to perform their missions with awareness and precision. In May 2011, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., South Korea's largest plane maker, signed a $400 million deal to sell 16 T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jets to Indonesia, making South Korea the first 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, Philippines, Filipino, New Zealand and South Vietnamese soldiers in the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, with a peak strength of 50,000. In 2004, South Korea sent 3,300 troops of the Zaytun Division to help re-building in northern Iraq, and was the third largest contributor in the Multinational force in Iraq, coalition forces 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. A further 1,800 were deployed since 2007 to reinforce UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.


United States contingent

The United States has stationed a substantial contingent of troops to defend South Korea. There are approximately 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea, most of them serving one year unaccompanied tours. The U.S. troops, which are primarily ground and air units, are assigned to USFK and mainly assigned to the Eighth United States Army of the U.S. Army and Seventh Air Force of the U.S. Air Force. They are stationed in installations at Osan, Kunsan, Yongsan, Dongducheon, Sungbuk, Camp Humphreys, and Daegu, as well as at Camp Bonifas in the DMZ Joint Security Area. A fully functioning United Nations Command (Korea), UN Command is at the top of the chain of command of all forces in South Korea, including the U.S. 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. There has been long-term agreement between the United States and South Korea that South Korea should eventually assume the lead for its own defense. This transition to a South Korean command has been slow and often postponed, although it is currently scheduled to occur in the early 2020s.


Conscientious objection

Male citizens who refuse or reject to undertake military services because of conscientious objection are typically imprisoned, with over 600 individuals usually imprisoned at any given time; more than the rest of the world put together. The vast majority of these are young men from the Jehovah's Witnesses Christian denomination. See Conscription in South Korea. However, in a court ruling of 2018, conscientious objectors were permitted to reject military service.


Economy

South Korea's mixed economy ranks List of countries by GDP (nominal), 10th nominal and List of countries by GDP (nominal), 13th purchasing power parity GDP in the world, identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a
developed country A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized governm ...
with a High-income economies, high-income economy and is the most industrialized member country of the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
. South Korean brands such as LG Electronics and Samsung are internationally famous and garnered South Korea's reputation for its quality electronics and other manufactured goods. Its massive investment in education has taken the country from mass illiteracy to a major international technological powerhouse. The country's national economy benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. South Korea's economy was one of the world's fastest-growing from the early 1960s to the late 1990s, and was still one of the fastest-growing developed countries in the 2000s, along with Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, the other three Four Asian Tigers, Asian Tigers. It recorded the fastest rise in average GDP per capita in the world between 1980 and 1990. South Koreans refer to this growth as the Miracle on the Han River. The South Korean economy is heavily dependent on international trade, and in 2014, South Korea was the fifth-largest exporter and List of countries by imports, seventh-largest importer in the world. Despite the South Korean economy's high growth potential and apparent structural stability, the country suffers damage to its credit rating in the stock market because of the belligerence of North Korea in times of deep military crises, which has an adverse effect on South Korean financial markets. The International Monetary Fund compliments 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 financial emergencies. Although it was severely harmed by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the South Korean economy managed a rapid recovery and subsequently tripled its GDP. Furthermore, South Korea was one of the few developed countries that were able to avoid a recession during the Financial crisis of 2007–2008, global financial crisis. 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 during the Great Recession. The unemployment rate in South Korea also remained low in 2009, at 3.6%. South Korea became a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996. The following list includes the largest South Korean companies by revenue in 2017 who are all listed as part of the Fortune Global 500:


Transportation, energy and infrastructure

South Korea has a technologically advanced transport network consisting of high-speed railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services, and air routes that crisscross the country. Korea Expressway Corporation operates the toll highways and service amenities en route. Korail provides frequent train services to all major South Korean cities. Two rail lines, Gyeongui Line, Gyeongui and Donghae Bukbu Line, to North Korea are now being reconnected. The Korean high-speed rail system, Korea Train Express, KTX, provides high-speed service along Gyeongbu Line, Gyeongbu and Honam Line. Major cities including Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju have urban rapid transit systems. Express bus terminals are available in most cities. South Korea's main gateway and largest airport is Incheon International Airport, serving passengers in 2016. Other international airports include Gimpo International Airport, Gimpo, Gimhae International Airport, Busan and Jeju International Airport, Jeju. There are also many airports that were built as part of the infrastructure boom but are barely used. There are also many heliports. The national carrier, Korean Air served over 26,800,000 passengers, including almost 19,000,000 international passengers in 2016. A second carrier, Asiana Airlines also serves domestic and international traffic. Combined, South Korean airlines serve 297 international routes. Smaller airlines, such as Jeju Air, provide domestic service with lower fares. South Korea is the world's fifth-largest nuclear power producer and the second-largest in Asia . 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/nuclear transmutation#Artificial transmutation of nuclear waste, 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. 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 for a research nuclear reactor, and with Argentina for construction and repair of heavy-water nuclear reactors. , South Korea and Turkey 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 Enriched uranium, enrich uranium or develop traditional uranium enrichment technology on its own, because of US political pressure, unlike most major nuclear powers such as Japan, Germany, and France, competitors of South Korea in the international nuclear market. This impediment to South Korea's indigenous nuclear industrial undertaking 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 Uranium market, market for nuclear enrichment facilities and refineries, preventing it from further expanding its export niche. South Korea has sought unique technologies such as Nuclear reprocessing#Pyroprocessing, pyroprocessing 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 be for civilian use only. South Korea is the third highest ranked Asian country in the World Economic Forum's Network Readiness Index (NRI) after Singapore and Hong Kong respectively – an indicator for determining the development level of a country's information and communication technologies. South Korea ranked number 10 overall in the 2014 NRI ranking, up from 11 in 2013.


Tourism

In 2016, 17 million foreign tourists visited South Korea With rising tourist prospects, especially from foreign countries outside of Asia, the South Korean government has set a target of attracting 20 million foreign tourists a year by 2017. South Korean tourism is driven by many factors, including the prominence of Korean pop culture such as K-pop, South Korean pop music and Korean drama, television dramas, known as the
Korean Wave #REDIRECT Korean wave#REDIRECT Korean wave The Korean wave (, , a neologism A neologism (; from Greek νέο- ''néo-'', "new" and λόγος ''lógos'', "speech, utterance") is a relatively recent or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in ...
or (Hallyu), has gained popularity throughout East Asia. The Hyundai Research Institute reported that the Korean Wave has a direct impact in encouraging direct foreign investment back into the country through demand for products, and the tourism industry. Among East Asian countries, China was the most receptive, investing 1.4 billion in South Korea, with much of the investment within its service sector, a sevenfold increase from 2001. According to an analysis by economist Han Sang-Wan, a 1 percent increase in the exports of Korean cultural content pushes consumer goods exports up 0.083 percent while a 1 percent increase in Korean pop content exports to a country produces a 0.019 percent bump in tourism.


South Korean National Pension System

The Pension policy in South Korea, South Korean pension system was created to provide benefits to persons reaching old age, families and persons stricken with death of their primary breadwinner, and for the purposes of stabilizing its nations welfare state.Bang, Ha-Nam, Study of Korean Corporations’ Retirement Allowance Schemes, Korea Labor Institute, 1998. South Korea's pension system structure is primarily based on taxation and is income-related. In 2007 there was a total of 18,367,000 insured individuals with only around 511,000 persons excluded from mandatory contribution. The current pension system is divided into four categories distributing benefits to participants through national, military personnel, governmental, and private school teacher pension schemes. The national pension scheme is the primary welfare system providing allowances to the majority of persons. Eligibility for the national pension scheme is not dependent on income but on age and residence, where those between the ages of 18 to 59 are covered. Any one who is under the age of 18 are dependents of someone who is covered or under a special exclusion where they are allowed to alternative provisions. The national pension scheme is divided into four categories of insured persons – the workplace-based insured, the individually insured, the voluntarily insured, and the voluntarily and continuously insured. Employees between the ages of 18 to 59 are covered under the workplace-based pension scheme and contribute 4.5% of their gross monthly earnings. The national pension covers employees who work in firms that employ five or more employees, fishermen, farmers, and the self-employed in both rural and urban areas. Employers are also covered under the workplace-based pension scheme and help cover their employees obligated 9% contribution by providing the remaining 4.5%. Anyone who is not employed, of the age of 60 or above, and excluded by article 6 of the National Pension Act but of the ages between 18 and 59, is covered under the individually insured pension scheme. Persons covered by the individually insured pension scheme are in charge of paying the entire 9% contribution themselves. Voluntarily insured persons are not subjected to mandatory coverage but can choose to be. This category comprises retirees who voluntarily choose to have additional benefits, individuals under the age of 27 without income, and individuals whose spouses are covered under a public welfare system, whether military, governmental, or private school teacher pensions. Like the Individually insured persons, they too are in charge of covering the full amount of the contribution. Voluntarily and continuously insured persons consists of individuals 60 years of age who want to fulfill the minimum insured period of 20 years to qualify for old age pension benefits. Excluding the workplace-based insured persons, all the other insured persons personally cover their own 9% contribution. South Korea's old-age pension scheme covers individuals age 60 or older for the rest of their life as long as they have satisfied the minimum of 20 years of national pension coverage beforehand. Individuals with a minimum of 10 years covered under the national pension scheme and who are 60 years of age are able to be covered by under a 'reduced old-age pension' scheme. There also is an 'active old-age pension' scheme that covers individuals age 60 to 65 engaged in activities yielding earned income. Individuals age of 55 and younger than 60 who are not engaged in activities yielding earned income are eligible to be covered under the 'early old-age pension' scheme. Around 60% of all Korean elders, age 65 and over are entitled to a 5% benefit of their past average income at an average of 90,000 Korean won, Korean Won (KRW). Basic old-age pension schemes covered individuals 65 years of age who earned below an amount set by presidential order. In 2010, that ceiling was 700,000 KRW for a single individual and 1,120,000 for a couple, equivalent to around $600.00 and $960.00.


Science and technology

Scientific and technological development in the South Korea at first did not occur largely because of more pressing matters such as the
division of Korea For centuries before 1945, Korea Korea (officially the "Korean Peninsula") is a region in East Asia. Since 1945 it has been Division of Korea, divided into the two parts which soon became the two sovereign states: North Korea (officially ...
and the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It b ...

Korean War
that occurred right after its independence. It was not until the 1960s under the dictatorship of
Park Chung-hee Park Chung-hee (; 14 November 1917 – 26 October 1979) was a South Korea South Korea (Korean language, Korean: /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Hanguk''; literally /, Revised Romanization of Korean, RR: ''Namhan'', or /, Mc ...

Park Chung-hee
where Economy of South Korea, South Korea's economy rapidly grew from industrialisation and the Chaebol corporations such as Samsung and LG Group, LG. Ever since the industrialization of South Korea's economy, South Korea has placed its focus on technology-based corporations, which has been supported by infrastructure developments by the government. South Korean corporations Samsung and LG were ranked first and third largest mobile phone companies in the world in the first quarter of 2012, 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 (telecommunication company), KT, and LG U+ provide coverage in all major cities and other areas. South Korea has the fastest Internet download speeds in the world, with an average download speed of 25.3 Mbit/s. South Korea leads the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de Coopération et de Développement Économiques, OCDE) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to st ...

OECD
in graduates in science and engineering. From 2014 to 2019, the country ranked first among the most innovative countries in the Bloomberg Innovation Index. It was ranked 10th in the Global Innovation Index 2020, up from 11st in 2019. Additionally, South Korea today is known as a Launchpad of a mature mobile market, where developers can reap benefits of a market where very few technology constraints exist. There is a growing trend of inventions of new types of media or apps, utilizing the 4G and 5G internet infrastructure in South Korea. South Korea has today the infrastructures to meet a density of population and culture that has the capability to create strong local particularity.


Cyber security

Following 2013 South Korea cyberattack, cyberattacks in the first half of 2013, whereby government, news-media, television station, and bank websites were compromised, the national government committed to the training of 5,000 new cybersecurity experts by 2017. The South Korean government Bureau 121, blamed North Korea for these attacks, as well as incidents that occurred in 2009, 2011 and 2012, but Pyongyang denies the accusations. In late September 2013, a computer-security competition jointly sponsored by the defense ministry and the National Intelligence Service was announced. The winners were announced on 29 September 2013 and shared a total prize pool of 80 million won (United States dollar, US$74,000). South Korea's government maintains a broad-ranging approach toward the regulation of specific online content and imposes a substantial level of Censorship in South Korea, censorship on election-related discourse and on many websites that the government deems subversive or socially harmful.


Aerospace engineering

South Korea has sent up 10 satellites since 1992, all using foreign rockets and overseas launch pads, notably Arirang-1 in 1999, and Arirang-2 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 became the first Korean to fly in space, aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-12. In June 2009, the first spaceport of South Korea, Naro Space Center, was completed at Goheung, Jeollanam-do. The launch of Naro-1 in August 2009 resulted in a failure. The second attempt in June 2010 was also unsuccessful. However, the third launch of the Naro 1 in January 2013 was successful. The government plans to develop Naro-2 by the year 2018. South Korea's efforts to build an indigenous space launch vehicle have been marred due to persistent political pressure from the United States, 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 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 through MTCR commitments to supplement its restricted domestic rocket technology. The two failed KSLV-I launch vehicles were based on the Common Core Booster#Universal Rocket Module, Universal Rocket Module, the first stage of the Russian Angara rocket, combined with a solid-fueled second stage built by South Korea.


Robotics

Robotics 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 Free Economic Zone, Incheon and Masan 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, HUBO. A team in the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology developed the first Korean android (robot), android, EveR-1 in May 2006. EveR-1 has been succeeded by more complex models with improved movement and vision. 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 invested in the development of a domestic biotechnology 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 A vaccine, 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 (in 2005), and the cloning of two females of an endangered species of gray wolves by the Seoul National University in 2007. The rapid growth of the industry has resulted in significant voids in regulation of ethics, as was highlighted by the Hwang Woo-Suk#Controversies, scientific misconduct case involving Hwang Woo-Suk. Since late 2020, SK Bioscience Inc. (a division of SK Group) has been producing a major proportion of the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria vaccine (also known as COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca), under license from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, for worldwide distribution through the COVAX facility under the WHO hospice. A recent agreement with Novavax expands its production for a second vaccine to 40 million doses in 2022, with a $450 million investment in domestic and overseas facilities.


Culture

South Korea shares its traditional culture with
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. It borders China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Yalu (Amnok) and Tu ...

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 neighboring China, it has nevertheless managed to develop a unique cultural identity that is distinct from its larger neighbor. Its rich and vibrant culture left UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, 21 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the Intangible cultural heritage#Intangible Cultural Heritage by country, fourth largest in the world, along with List of World Heritage Sites in South Korea, 15 World Heritage Sites. The South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism (South Korea), 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 modern Koreans 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. A 2014 Euromonitor study found that South Koreans drink the most alcohol on a weekly basis compared to the rest of the world. South Koreans drink 13.7 shots of liquor per week on average and, of the 44 other countries analyzed, Russia, the Philippines, and Thailand follow.


Art

Korean art has been highly influenced by Buddhism in Korea, Buddhism and Korean Confucianism, Confucianism, which can be seen in the many traditional paintings, sculptures, ceramics and the performing arts. Korean pottery and porcelain, such as
Joseon Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye Taejo of Joseon ...
's ''Joseon white porcelain, baekja'' and buncheong, and
Goryeo Goryeo (; ) was a Korea Korea is a region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided between two countries at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (th ...
's celadon are well known throughout the world. The Korean tea ceremony, pansori, talchum 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. Because of 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 Park, Seoul, Olympic Sculpture Garden in 1988, the transposition of the 1993 edition of the Whitney Biennial to Seoul, the creation of the Gwangju Biennale and the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1995 were notable events.


Architecture

Because of 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 (architecture), bracket system characterized by thatched roofs and heated floors called ''ondol''. 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'', and special sites like Hahoe Folk Village, Yangdong Village of Gyeongju and Korean Folk Village. 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 the Korea under Japanese rule, annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910 the colonial regime intervened in Korea's architectural heritage, and Japanese-style modern architecture was imposed. The anti-Japanese sentiment, and the Korean War, 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 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 (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, ''doenjang'' (된장), a type of fermented bean paste, fermented soybean paste, Korean soy sauce, soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and ''gochujang'' (고추장), a hot pepper paste. Other well-known dishes are ''Bulgogi'' (불고기), grilled marinated beef, ''Gimbap'' (김밥), and ''Tteokbokki'' (떡볶이), a spicy snack consisting of rice cake seasoned with gochujang or a spicy chili 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; 湯) 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. Popular Korean alcoholic beverages include Soju, Makgeolli and Bokbunja ju. Korea is unique among East Asian countries in its use of metal chopsticks. Metal chopsticks have been discovered in Goguryeo archaeological sites.


Entertainment

In addition to domestic consumption, South Korea has a thriving entertainment industry where various facets of South Korean entertainment, including television dramas, films, and popular music, has generated significant financial revenues for the nation's economy. The cultural phenomenon known as ''Korean Wave, Hallyu'' or the "Korean Wave", has swept many countries across Asia making South Korea a major soft power as an exporter of popular culture and entertainment, rivaling Western nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Until the 1990s, Trot (music), trot and traditional Korean Korean folk music, folk based ballads dominated South Korean popular music. The emergence of the South Korean pop group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for South Korean popular music, also known as
K-pop K-pop (), short for Korean popular music, is a music genre, genre of music originating in South Korea as part of South Korean culture. It is influenced by styles and genres from around the world, such as Pop music, pop, Experimental music, e ...

K-pop
, as the genre modernized itself from incorporating elements of popular musical genres from across the world such as Pop music, Western popular music, Experimental music, experimental, jazz, Gospel music, gospel, Latin music (genre), Latin, classical music, classical, hip hop music, hip hop, Contemporary R&B, rhythm and blues, electronic dance, reggae, country music, country, Contemporary folk music, folk, and rock music, rock on top of its uniquely traditional Korean music roots. Western-style pop, hip hop, rhythm and blues, rock, folk, electronic dance oriented acts have become dominant in the modern South Korean popular music scene, though trot is still enjoyed among older South Koreans. K-pop stars and groups are well known across Asia and have found international fame making millions of dollars in export revenue. Many K-pop acts have also been able to secure a strong overseas following using online social media platforms such as the video sharing website YouTube. South Korean singer PSY became an international sensation when his song "Gangnam Style" topped global music charts in 2012. Since the success of the film ''Shiri (film), Shiri'' in 1999, the Korean film industry has begun to gain recognition internationally. Domestic film has a dominant share of the market, partly because of the existence of screen quotas requiring cinemas to show Korean films at least 73 days a year. 2019's ''Parasite (2019 film), Parasite'', directed by Bong Joon-ho, became the List of highest-grossing films in South Korea, highest-grossing film in South Korea as well as the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the United States-based Academy Awards 92nd Academy Awards, that year amongst List of accolades received by Parasite, numerous other accolades. Television in South Korea, South Korean television shows have become popular outside of Korea. South Korean television dramas, known as Korean drama, K-dramas, have begun to find fame internationally. Many dramas tend to have a romantic focus, such as ''Princess Hours'', ''You're Beautiful (TV series), You're Beautiful'', ''Playful Kiss'', ''My Name is Kim Sam Soon'', ''Boys Over Flowers (TV series), Boys Over Flowers'', ''Winter Sonata'', ''Autumn in My Heart'', ''Full House (2004 TV series), Full House'', ''City Hunter (TV series), City Hunter'', ''All About Eve (South Korean TV series), All About Eve'', ''Secret Garden (South Korean TV series), Secret Garden'', ''I Can Hear Your Voice'', ''Master's Sun'', ''My Love from the Star'', ''Healer (TV series), Healer'', ''Descendants of the Sun'', ''Guardian: The Lonely and Great God'', and ''Crash Landing on You''. Historical dramas have included ''Faith (South Korean TV series), Faith'', ''Dae Jang Geum'', ''The Legend (TV series), The Legend'', ''Dong Yi (TV series), Dong Yi'', ''Moon Embracing the Sun'', ''Sungkyunkwan Scandal'', ''Iljimae'' and ''Kingdom (South Korean TV series), Kingdom.'' The survival drama ''Squid Game'', created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, received critical acclaim and widespread international attention upon its release, becoming Netflix's most-watched series at launch and garnering a viewership of more than 142 million households during its first four weeks from launch.


Holidays

There are many official public holidays in South Korea. Korean New Year's Day, or "Seollal", is celebrated on the first day of the Korean lunar calendar. March 1st Movement, Korean Independence Day falls on 1 March, and commemorates the 1 March Movement of 1919. Memorial Day is celebrated on 6 June, and its purpose is to honor the men and women who died in South Korea's independence movement. Constitution Day is on 17 July, and it celebrates the promulgation of Constitution of the Republic of Korea. Liberation Day, on 15 August, celebrates Korea's liberation from the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Empire of Japan
in 1945. Every 15th day of the 8th lunar month, Koreans celebrate the Chuseok, Midautumn Festival, in which Koreans visit their ancestral hometowns and eat a variety of traditional Korean foods. On 1 October, Armed Forces day is celebrated, honoring the military forces of South Korea. 3 October is Gaecheonjeol, National Foundation Day. Hangul Day, on 9 October commemorates the invention of hangul, the native alphabet of the Korean language.


Sports

The martial arts, martial art taekwondo originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 1960s, modern rules were standardized, with taekwondo becoming an official Olympic Games, Olympic sport in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, Taekkyon, hapkido, Tang Soo Do, Kuk Sool Won, kumdo and subak. Association football, Football and baseball have traditionally been regarded as the most popular sports in Korea. Recent polling indicates that a majority, 41% of South Korean sports fans continue to self-identify as football fans, with baseball ranked 2nd at 25% of respondents. However, the polling did not indicate the extent to which respondents follow both sports. The Korea Republic national football team, national football team became the first team in the Asian Football Confederation to reach the FIFA World Cup semi-finals in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan. The Korea Republic national football team, Korea Republic national team (as it is known) has qualified for every World Cup since 1986 FIFA World Cup, Mexico 1986, and has broken out of the group stage twice: first in 2002, and again in 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2010, when it was defeated by eventual semi-finalist Uruguay national football team, Uruguay in the Round of 16. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, South Korea won the bronze medal for football. Baseball was first introduced to Korea in 1905 and has since become increasingly popular, 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, a 10-team circuit, was established in 1982. The South Korea national baseball team, South Korea national team finished third in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and second in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, 2009 tournament. The team's 2009 final game against Japan was widely watched in Korea, with a large screen at Gwanghwamun crossing in Seoul broadcasting the game live. In the 2008 Summer Olympics, South Korea won the gold medal in baseball. Also in 1982, at the Baseball Worldcup, Korea won the gold medal. At the 2010 Asian Games, the Korean National Baseball team won the gold medal. Several Korean players have gone on to play in Major League Baseball. Basketball is a popular sport in the country as well. South Korea has traditionally had one of the top basketball teams in Asia and one of the continent's strongest basketball divisions. Seoul hosted the 1967 ABC Championship, 1967 and 1995 ABC Championship, 1995 Asian Basketball Championship. The Korea national basketball team has won a record number of 23 medals at the event to date. South Korea hosted the Asian Games in 1986 (Seoul), 2002 (Busan), and 2014 (Incheon). It also hosted the Winter Universiade in 1997, the Asian Winter Games in 1999, and the Summer Universiade in 2003 and 2015. In 1988, South Korea hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, 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, field hockey, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, baseball, judo, taekwondo, speed skating, figure skating, and Olympic weightlifting, weightlifting. The Seoul Olympic Museum is dedicated to the 1988 Summer Olympics. On 6 July 2011, Pyeongchang County, Pyeongchang was chosen by the IOC to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. South Korea has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other Asian country, with a total of 45 (23 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze). At the 2010 Winter Olympics, South Korea ranked fifth in the overall medal rankings. South Korea is especially strong in short track speed skating. Speed skating and figure skating are also popular, and ice hockey is an emerging sport, with Anyang Halla winning their first ever Asia League Ice Hockey title in March 2010. Seoul hosted a professional triathlon race, which is part of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship Series in May 2010. In 2011, the South Korean city of Daegu hosted the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. In October 2010, South Korea hosted its first Formula One race at the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam, about south of Seoul. The Korean Grand Prix was held from 2010 to 2013, but was not placed on the 2014 Formula One season, 2014 F1 calendar. Domestic horse racing events are also followed by South Koreans and Seoul Race Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do is located closest to Seoul out of the country's three tracks. Competitive video game, video gaming, also called Esports (sometimes written e-Sports), has become more popular in South Korea in recent years, particularly among young people. The two most popular games are League of Legends and StarCraft. The gaming scene of South Korea is managed by the Korean e-Sports Association.


See also

* Index of South Korea–related articles * Outline of South Korea * State Council of South Korea ("cabinet" of South Korea)


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * * * Lew, Yong Ick. ''The Making of the First Korean President: Syngman Rhee's Quest for Independence'' (University of Hawai'i Press; 2013); scholarly biography; 576 pages; * * * * *


External links

* (Korea.net)
Korea Tourism Guide website

Korea National Statistical Office

South Korea
''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
A Country Study: South Korea
in the Library of Congress *
Korea
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD
South Korea profile
from the BBC News
South Korea
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' entry
Key Development Forecasts for South Korea
from International Futures {{Authority control South Korea, 1948 establishments in South Korea, * East Asian countries G20 nations Korea, Korean-speaking countries and territories Member states of the United Nations Northeast Asian countries Republics States and territories established in 1948 Former Japanese colonies