South Korea

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Republic of Korea
Image:Flag of South Korea.svg Image:Coat of arms of South Korea.svg
Motto널리 인간을 이롭게 하라 (홍익인간)
"Benefit all Humankind"
AnthemAegukga (애국가)
The Patriotic Song
(and largest city)
37°35′N 127°0′E / 37.583, 127
Official languages Korean
Demonym South Korean, Korean
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Lee Myung-bak
 -  Prime Minister Han Seung-soo
 -  National Foundation Day 2333 BCE 
 -  Independence declared March 1, 1919 (de jure) 
 -  Provisional Government April 13, 1919 
 -  Liberation August 15, 1945 
 -  First Republic August 15, 1948 
 -  United Nations recognition December 12, 1948 
 -  Total 100,032 km2 (108th)
38,622 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.3
 -   estimate 49,044,790 (24th)
 -  Density 493/km2 (12th)
1,274/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.312 trillion[1] (13th)
 -  Per capita $27,100[1] (28th)
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
 -  Total $969.871 billion[2] (13th)
 -  Per capita $20,015[2] (28th)
Gini (2006) 35.1 
HDI (2008) 0.928 (high) (25th)
Currency International symbol Pronounced Won (KRW)
Time zone Korea Standard Time (UTC+9)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+9)
Date formats yyyy년 mm월 dd일
yyyy/mm/dd (CE)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .kr
Calling code 82
Template:Lower Mobile phone system CDMA, WCDMA, HSDPA and WiBro
Template:Lower Domestic power supply 220V/60 Hz, CEE 7/7 sockets

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK) and often referred to as Korea (Korean: 대한민국, IPA[tɛː.han.min.ɡuk̚]), is a presidential republic in East Asia, located in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Also known as the "Land of the Morning Calm", it borders North Korea to the north and closely neighbors China to the west and Japan to the east. Its capital is Seoul, a major global city with the second largest metropolitan area population in the world.[3]

Korea is one of the oldest civilizations in the world,[4] first inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic.[5] Following the unification of the Three Korean Kingdoms under Silla in 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910. After liberation and division, South Korea was established in 1948 and has since become one of the two full democracies in Asia. Following the Korean War, the South Korean economy grew significantly, transforming the country into a major global economy.[6] South Korea has an international outlook with memberships in the United Nations, WTO, OECD and G-20 major economies. It is also a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit, being a major non-NATO ally of the United States. South Korea shares the most heavily-fortified border in the world with its only land neighbor, North Korea.[7]

South Korea is a developed country. It is the second most prosperous major economy in Asia and a High-income OECD member, classified as an Advanced economy by the CIA and IMF. South Korea's exponential economic growth is called the Miracle on the Han River and has earned the distinctive reputation as an Asian Tiger. Today, it is leading the Next Eleven nations and its economic success is a role model for many developing countries.[8][9][10][11] South Korea has a high-tech and futuristic infrastructure,[12] and is a world leader in technologically advanced goods such as electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics, headed by Samsung, LG, Hyundai-Kia and Hyundai Heavy Industries. It is a global leader in the fields of education,[13] having the world's highest scientific literacy[14] and second highest mathematical literacy.[15]. South Korea was also estimated, in the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, to have the second highest average national IQ.[16] Since the 21st century, South Korea's modern culture has become popular in Asia and beyond in a phenomenon known as the Korean wave.



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

The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. This document has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948 (see History of South Korea). However, it has retained many broad characteristics; 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.[17] South Korea has developed a successful liberal democracy since the 1960s and the first direct election was held in 1987. The CIA World Factbook describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy".[18]


Before division

Main article: History of Korea

[[File:Baitou Mountain Tianchi.jpg|left|thumb|220px|Heaven Lake of Baekdu Mountain, where Dangun's father is said to have descended from heaven]] Archeological findings indicate that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by humans as early in the Lower Paleolithic period.

Korea began with the founding of Joseon (The name Gojoseon is almost always used to prevent confusion with another Joseon dynasty founded in 14th century; the prefix Go- means 'old' or 'earlier') in 2333 BCE by Dangun.[19] Gojoseon expanded until it controlled much of the northern Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria. After numerous wars with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.

[[File:Three Kingdoms of Korea Map.png|thumb|right|220px|Map of the Three Kingdoms of Korea at the end of the 5th century]]

In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North-South States period, in which much of the Korean peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture flourished. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla's neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

After the North-South Period, successor states fought for control during the Later Three Kingdoms period. The peninsula was soon united by Wang Geon of Goryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world's oldest movable metal printing press.[20]

[[File:Gyeongbok Palace main attraction.png|thumb|left|240px|Gyeongbok Palace is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty.]]

The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. However, Goryeo continued to rule Korea as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the fall of the Mongolian Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Goryeo continued its rule. After severe political strife and continued invasions, Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye. General Yi declared the new name of Korea as Joseon in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty was marked by relative peace and saw the creation of hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise and influence of Confucianism.

In the latter of the 16th century, Joseon was invaded by a newly unified Japan. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1599), centuries of peace had left the dynasty unprepared, and the lack of technology and poor leadership from the Joseon government and generals led to the destruction of much of the Korean peninsula. However, continued Korean dominance at sea led by Admiral Yi, the rise of local militias, and the intervention of Ming China put Japan under great pressure to retreat in 1598.

Today, Admiral Yi is celebrated as one of Korea's foremost heroes and his turtle ships, used with great success against the Japanese, are considered the world's first ironclad warships, although lack of hard evidence of iron plating sparks much debate.

During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the name the "Hermit Kingdom", primarily for protection against Western imperialism before it was forced to open trade beginning an era leading into Japanese colonial rule.

After division

[[File:Incheon Memorial.jpg|thumb|left|175px|A sculpture at the Incheon Landing Operation Memorial Hall]] In the aftermath of World War II, Soviet Union and United States troops controlled the northern and southern halves of the country respectively. The two Cold War rivals established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea's division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

[[File:Gangnam1.jpg|thumb|right|260px|The postwar economic miracle in the late 20th century transformed South Korea into an advanced economy and a major economic power in Asia.]]

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism eventually led to the establishment of two separate governments: the communist North and the capitalist South. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung[21] and in the South, an exiled Korean political leader, Syngman Rhee, were installed as presidents.[22]

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South leading to the Korean War. The Soviet boycott of the United Nations at the time, and therefore, no veto, allowed the UN to intervene when it became apparent that the superior communist forces would easily take over the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the later participation of millions of Chinese troops. After huge advances on both sides, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, and the two countries are still technically at war.[23]

In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic President Syngman Rhee. A period of political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee's military coup (the "5.16 coup d'état") against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park is heavily criticised as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.

The years after Park's assassination were marked by, again, considerable political turmoil as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1980, there was a coup d'état, by General Chun Doo-hwan against the transitional government of Choi Gyu Ha, the interim president and a former prime minister under Park. Chun assumed the presidency. His seizure of power triggered nationwide protest demanding democracy, in particular the city of Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do where Chun sent in special forces to violently suppress the city, in what is now known as the Gwangju Massacre.

[[File:Unification flag of Korea.svg|thumb|right|210px|Since 1991, the Unification Flag of Korea has been used to represent all of Korea when North and South Korea participate together in sporting events.]] [[File:Autumn Seoul Olympic Park.jpg|thumb|left|210px|Autumn in Seoul Olympic Park, which was created to celebrate the 1988 Summer Olympics hosted by South Korea.]] [[File:Inside Seoul World Cup Stadium.jpg|thumb|right|210px|View of the Seoul World Cup Stadium used during the 2002 FIFA World Cup co-hosted by South Korea and Japan]]

Until 1987, Chun and his government held Korea under despotic rule when Park Jong Chul — a student attending Seoul National University — was tortured to death.[24] The Catholic Priests' Association for Justice revealed that Park was tortured, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. The demonstrations snowballed when another student from Yonsei University, Lee Han Yeol, was killed by a police-fired tear gas bomb while he was demonstrating against the military government. The period of resistance is called the Resistance of June when all joined the national movement. Eventually, Chun's party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th Declaration, which included the direct election of the president.[25]

In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, a cause of both national and international celebration in contrast to great turmoil of the past. In 1996, South Korea became a member of the OECD, a testament to further economic growth. As with many of its Asian neighbors, South Korea suffered the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but the country was able to re-emerge and continue its growth towards a major economic power after a swift recovery.[26]

In June 2000, as part of South Korean president Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy of engagement, a North-South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. That year, Former President 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."[27]

In 2002, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The event marked South Korea's emergence in the world stage and provided stronger economic growth and a cultural union between South Koreans. The South Korean national football team became the first and only Asian nation to reach the semi-finals, beating Spain, Portugal and Italy in the knock-out stages.

Foreign relations

United States

[[File:Ban Ki-moon Bush.jpg|thumb|right|225px|Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, with the former President of the United States, George W. Bush]] The United States engaged in the decolonisation of Korea (mainly South, Soviet Union engaged North Korea) from Japan after World War II. After 3 years of military administration by the United States, the South Korean government was established. Upon the onset of the Korean War, the United States sent soldiers to South Korea to defend against the invasion of North Korea and later China. Since then, the two nations have had strong economic, diplomatic and military ties, although they have at times disagreed with regards to policies towards North Korea. Currently, the US Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force and US Naval Forces Korea are stationed in South Korea.


Historically, Korea has had relatively close relations with the (Republic of China). Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters worked with Chinese soldiers during the Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the People's Republic of China embraced Maoism while South Korea became a representative democracy under the influence of the United States. The PRC assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and the PRC almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually and South Korea and the PRC re-established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and[28] South Korean-Chinese relations have improved steadily since 1992.[28] Korea broke off official relations with the Republic of China upon gaining official relations with the People's Republic.


Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the Korean War, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army.[29] Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war, including class A war criminals like Hideki Tojo, the re-writing of Japanese textbooks to overlook Japanese aggression during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, former President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan.[30]

North Korea

Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace.[31] On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an eight-point agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.[31]

Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, and again in 2006. Recently, North Korea agreed to temporarily suspend its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program for economic and diplomatic support, although some Korean and American officials criticised the North for not being fully cooperative in its temporary suspension of a nuclear weapons program.[32]

Other nations

South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 170 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

There is an ongoing effort at negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, the second largest importer of Korean goods.[33] South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada.[34]


[[File:ROK Marine with K2.JPEG|thumb|left|210px|A South Korean Marine watching his line of fire during an assault exercise]] [[File:T-50 Golden Eagle over Chungnam.jpg|thumb|right|220px|South Korea's T-50 Golden Eagle, the world's only high-performance, supersonic trainer aircraft in production[35]]] [[File:444kc1.jpg|thumb|right|220px|The K2 Black Panther main battle tank]] A major military power in the world, South Korea possesses the world's sixth largest number of active troops, the world's second largest number of reserve troops and one of the ten largest defence budgets in the world. The South Korean army has 2,300 tanks in operation,[36] consisting of technologically advanced models such as the K1A1 and the new K2 Black Panther. The South Korean navy has the world's sixth largest fleet of destroyers and is one of the five navies in the world to operate an Aegis guided missile enabled destroyer, the King Sejong the Great class destroyer.[37] It has also the world's largest fleet of frigates, the sixth largest of corvettes and the fourth largest of submarines in operation. The South Korean airforce operates the ninth largest airforce in the world,[38] composed of advanced American fighters such as the F-15K, KF-16 and advanced indigenous models such as the T-50 Golden Eagle.

The South Korean military consists of the Army (ROKA), the Navy (ROKN), the Air Force (ROKAF), and the Marine Corps (ROKMC), together with reserve forces.[39] Many of these forces are concentrated near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically for a period of two years. However, there have been debates about shortening the length of the military services, and even dismissing the mandatory service itself. The government recently allowed some male students who were in the process of earning a university bachelor's degree and master's degree to dismiss the military requirements to allow them to further study and research their fields.

[[File:060921-N-0879R-001.jpg||thumb|left|210px|A South Korean midshipman waves to fellow sailors aboard ROKN Daecheong]] From time to time, South Korea has sent its troops overseas to assist American forces. It has participated in most major conflicts that the United States has been involved in the past 50 years. South Korea dispatched 320,000 troops to fight alongside American, Australian, Filipino, New Zealand and South Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War, with a peak strength of 50,000. Most recently, South Korea sent 3,300 troops of the Zaytun Division to help re-building in northern Iraq, and was the 3rd largest contributor in the coalition forces after only the US and Britain.[40]

The United States has stationed a substantial contingent of troops in South Korea since the Korean War to defend South Korea in case of a North Korean attack. There are also approximately 29,000 US military stationed in Korea,[41] most of them serving one year of unaccompanied tours. The American Troops, which primarily are assigned to the Eighth United States Army are stationed in installations at Osan, Yongsan, Dongducheon, Sungbuk,and Daegu, of which are considered camps not for their lack of buildings or support structure, but to make a political and military statement representing a lack of permanence. A still functioning UN Command is technically the top of the chain of command of all forces in South Korea, including the US forces and the entire South Korean military.

Administrative divisions

See also Special cities of Korea and Provinces of Korea

[[File:Namdaemun at night.jpg|thumb|right|225px|The Sungnyemun in Seoul at night]] thumb|left|210px|Principal divisions of South Korea [[File:View of Han River in Seoul from the World Trade Center.jpg|thumb|right|225px|The Han River flowing through Seoul]] thumb|left|210px|General map of South Korea [[File:Waterfall on Jeju Island, Korea.jpg|thumb|right|225px|The Cheonjiyeon Waterfall in Jeju island]]

Namea hangul hanja
Special cities (Teukbyeolsi)a
1 Seoul (National Capital) 서울특별시 서울特別市
Metropolitan cities (Gwangyeoksi)a
2 Busan 부산광역시 釜山廣域市
3 Daegu 대구광역시 大邱廣域市
4 Incheon 인천광역시 仁川廣域市
5 Gwangju 광주광역시 光州廣域市
6 Daejeon 대전광역시 大田廣域市
7 Ulsan 울산광역시 蔚山廣域市
8 Gyeonggi-do 경기도 京畿道
9 Gangwon-do 강원도 江原道
10 Chungcheongbuk-do (Northern Chungcheong) 충청북도 忠淸北道
11 Chungcheongnam-do (Southern Chungcheong) 충청남도 忠淸南道
12 Jeollabuk-do (Northern Jeolla) 전라북도 全羅北道
13 Jeollanam-do (Southern Jeolla) 전라남도 全羅南道
14 Gyeongsangbuk-do (Northern Gyeongsang) 경상북도 慶尙北道
15 Gyeongsangnam-do (Southern Gyeongsang) 경상남도 慶尙南道
Special self-governing province (Teukbyeoljachi-do)a
16 Jeju-do 제주특별자치도 濟州特別自治道


Geography and climate

[[File:South Korea Topography.png|thumb|left|Topography of South Korea]] [[File:Seoul Grand Park Hill.jpg|thumb|right|220px|View of the Seoul Grand Park]] [[File:Haeundae.jpg|thumb|right|220px|The Haeundae Beach in Busan at night]]

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 680 miles (1,100 km) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea.

The country's total area is 38,622.57 square miles (Template:Convert/pround km2).[42]

South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River.

South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, constitute only 30% of the total land area.

About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea. Jeju-do is located about 100 kilometers (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches 1,950 meters (6,398 ft) above sea level. The most eastern islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo in Korean), while Marado and Socotra Rock are the southernmost islands of South Korea.


Climate chart for Seoul
average temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

South Korea has humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate. and is affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma (장마), and winters that can be bitterly cold. In Seoul, the average January temperature range is -7 °C to 1 °C (19 °F to 33 °F), and the average July temperature range is 22 °C to 29 °C (71 °F to 83 °F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimeters (54 inches) in Seoul to 1,470 millimeters (58 inches) in Busan. There are occasional typhoons that bring high winds and floods. The government is concerned of the impact of global warming on the natural disasters.


[[File:Korea-Seoul-Cheonggyecheon-2008-01.jpg|thumb|right|225px|Cheonggyecheon flowing through Seoul]]

In the past, urban areas such as Seoul had minor problems associated with air pollution and water pollution. However, the Mayor of Seoul has been working hard to restore the flow of clean water in South Korea, by recovering the flow of Cheonggyecheon in central Seoul, for example.[43] South Korea is a member of numerous international environmental organisations with specific regards to Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution (MARPOL 73/78), Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling.[44]

The South Korean government's July 2008 decision to boost investment into renewable energy to reduce its reliance on foreign oil imports may provide a boost to conglomerates' solar plans.[45] The Ministry of Knowledge and Economy said the country intends to spend 194.4 billion won ($193 million) on technologies and projects, including solar, wind and biofuels, in 2008.[46]


[[File:Tradetw01.jpg|thumb|left|185px|Seoul is a major global city and a leading financial center in Asia.[47]]] [[File:South Korea's GDP (nominal) growth from 1960 to 2007.png|thumb|right|260px|South Korea is the world's fastest growing major advanced economy and its exponential economic growth is often called the Miracle on the Han River.]] South Korea has been the world's second fastest growing economy for over four decades.[48] Its remarkable transformation to a wealthy developed country in less than half a century is often called the Miracle on the Han River and earned the distinctive reputation of "Asian Tiger" in the international community. South Korea's economic success is now a role model for many developing countries.[49][50][51][52]

Today, South Korea has a highly developed[53] trillion dollar economy and is a member of the OECD, classified as a High-income economy by the World Bank and an Advanced economy by the IMF and CIA. Its capital, Seoul, is consistently placed among the world's top ten financial and commercial cities.[54] Its Gyeongnam region is the richest region in East Asia with a GDP per capita of over $36,000[55] and Ulsan is the second richest city in East Asia after Tokyo with a GDP per capita of over $44,500.[56]

South Korea is regarded as one of the strongest economies in the world,[57] despite lacking natural resources and having the smallest territory among the G-20 major economies. The South Korean economy is the fourth largest in Asia and 13th largest in the world.[58] Like West Germany and Japan, rapid industrialization since the 1960s has made South Korea one of the world's top ten exporters. It is the seventh largest trading partner of the United States.[59] South Korea has the second highest savings rate in the developed world[60] and is well protected from external economic conditions through vast foreign exchange reserves.[61] [[File:Hyundai Genesis Coupe rear.jpg|thumb|right|215px|South Korea is one of the world's top five automakers, led by Hyundai and Kia.]] [[File:Freedom.JPG|thumb|right|215px|South Korea is the world's largest shipbuilding nation, producing over half of the world's ships in 2008.[62]]] Often called an educational powerhouse,[63] South Korea is renowned for having one of the world's best education systems and is Asia's foremost leader in the fields of education, having the world's highest scientific literacy[64] and second highest mathematical literacy[65] and ranking first in Asia and seventh worldwide in the latest Education Index. Indeed, an extremely competitive education environment[66] and a highly skilled and motivated workforce[67] are two key factors driving this knowledge economy. This has a direct correlation with its global leadership in technology and innovation and the country files the largest number of patents per GDP and R&D expenditure in the world.[68]

Many globally well-known South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai-Kia, Hyundai Heavy Industries, LG and SK, POSCO have rapidly grown to become world leaders in their respective industries. Samsung Group is the world's largest conglomerate[69] and the leading consumer electronics brand in the world.[70] In 2006, Samsung Group alone would have been the world's 34th largest economy if ranked.[71] The Hyundai Kia Automotive Group is the second largest car company in Asia and one of the top five automakers in the world.[72] Hyundai Heavy Industries is the world's largest shipbuilder[73][74] and POSCO is the world's second largest steel maker.[75] South Korea is one of the world's top five automobile manufacturing nations[76] and the sixth largest steel producer in the world.[77]

[[File:Korean Air Cargo Aircraft.png|thumb|left|205px|Korean Air is the world's largest cargo airline, shipping nearly 10 billion tons of goods worldwide in 2007.[78]]] The new Lee Myung-bak administration is devoted to make South Korea's economic power and wealth to fully match the G7, concentrating all of the nation's resources to recreate the Miracle on the Han River under the ambitious 747 Project, which is targeting an annual GDP growth of 7%, a GDP per capita of $40,000 and making South Korea the world's seventh largest economy by 2013.[79] President Lee describes himself as the CEO of "Korea Inc." and his macroeconomic policies are often called Mbnomics.[80] His most notable projects include the building of the Grand Korean Waterway and completing Free Trade Agreements with the US (also known as KORUS FTA) and EU.[81]

Despite having achieved developed status, South Korea continues to be one of the world's fastest growing economies, recording one of the highest GDP, export and industrial production growth rates in the developed world. In October 2008, the IMF forecasted that the South Korean economy will overtake Canada in 2009 and Spain in 2011[82] and that its GDP per capita will surpass New Zealand in 2009, Italy in 2012, and Spain in 2013.[83] In 2007, Goldman Sachs predicted that by 2050, South Korea's GDP will quadruple to over $4 trillion and have a GDP per capita in excess of $90,000, becoming the second richest major economy in the world.[84] It is the only developed country to be listed among the Next Eleven economies.

High-tech industries

[[File:My LG Shine and Chocolate.png|thumb|right|215px|The LG Shine and Chocolate. South Korea is a world leader in next generation gadgets such as high-tech cell phones.[85]]] [[File:SAMSUNG at CES 2009.jpg|thumb|left|205px|Samsung Group is the world's largest conglomerate[86] and the leading global consumer electronics brand.[87]]] [[File:Hynix HY57V64820HG.jpg|thumb|left|205px|South Korea is the world's leading producer of computer memory chips.[88]]] Frequently described as a technology superpower,[89] South Korea has a high-tech and futuristic infrastructure,[90] and is a world leader in technologically advanced goods such as electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. It boasts the world's highest broadband internet access per capita[91] and is the most wired country in the world.[92] In 2007, the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked South Korea's IT Industry Competitiveness among the top three in the world.[93] South Korea's e-readiness and e-Government readiness is also ranked above Japan and many European countries.[94][95]

South Korean electronics conglomerates currently dominate the world technology industry. Samsung and LG are the world's first and second largest LCD makers, together controlling nearly 50% of the global market.[96] Samsung and LG are also the world's largest OLED and Plasma display makers.[97][98] Samsung and LG are the world's second and third largest mobile phone makers.[99][100] Samsung is the leading mobile phone vendor in the United States[101] and Canada.[102] South Korea is the world's leading memory chip producer and Samsung and Hynix are the world's second and sixth largest semiconductor companies in the world.[103] For over a decade, Samsung has been the world's leading DRAM and SRAM manufacturer.[104] Samsung is the world's largest laser printer maker[105] and Samsung Techwin is the world's third largest digital camera maker.[106]

Today, there are many strong South Korean industries. South Korea's largest automaker, Hyundai Motor Company and its subsidiary Kia Motors are the fifth largest car groups in the world.[107] The South Korean shipbuilding industry is one of the most highly developed in the world, headed by chaebols such as the Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industry and POSCO. It became the largest after overtaking Japan in 2004.[108] South Korea also exports radioactive isotope production equipment for medical and industrial use to countries such as Russia, Japan, Turkey and others.[109]

Nationwide 100 Mbit/s High-Speed Internet Access, Interactive Full High-Definition TV Broadcasting, DMB, WiBro and 4G technology rolled out since 2000, which are a few of the nation's plans to set benchmarks in the global information technology industry. In addition to its highly advanced IT infrastructure, the government is now beginning to invest in the robotics industry. With the aim of becoming the "World's Number 1 Robotics Nation" by 2025, there are plans to put one robot in every household by 2020.[110][111] There are other plans to expand or create other sectors of the economy, including the financial, biotechnology, aerospace and entertainment industries.

Transportation and Energy

[[File:Incheon International Airpot (interesting architecture).jpg|thumb|right|220px|Since 2006, Incheon International Airport has been consecutively rated as the best airport in the world.[112]]] [[File:KTX Seoul Station.jpg|thumb|215px|right|Korail operates one of the fastest high-speed railways in the world, with its KTX bullet trains travelling at 300km/h.]] South Korea has a technologically advanced transporation network consisting of high-speed railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services, and air routes that criss-cross the country. Korea Highway Corporation operates the toll highways and service amenities en route. South Korea has currently the world's fifth largest rapid transit system.[113]

Korail provides frequent train service to all major South Korean cities. Two rail lines, Gyeongui and Donghae Bukbu Line, to North Korea are now being reconnected. The Korean high-speed rail system, KTX, provides high-speed service along Gyeongbu and Honam Line. Major cities have subway systems, including the popular Seoul Subway, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju. Metropolitan Cities have express bus terminals.

South Korea's largest international airport is the Incheon International Airport, which has been named as the best airport in the world by the ACI for 3 consecutive years. It serves as the main hub for the country's largest air carriers Korean Air and Asiana Airlines and more recently, the Korean subsidiary of Tiger Airways. South Korea has eight international airports and seven domestic airports in total, with about 71 international passenger and cargo airlines operating frequent flight services between South Korea and all over the world. The largest ports are in Busan and Incheon. South Korea has currently more heliports than any other country in the world.[114]

South Korea is the world's sixth largest nuclear power producer and the second largest in Asia.[115] Nuclear power in South Korea supplies 45% of electricity production and research is very active with investigation into a variety of advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast/transmutation reactor and a high-temperature hydrogen generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally. It is also a member of the ITER project.

Science and technology

See also: Science and technology in Korea

Aerospace research

[[File:Korean astronaut-Yi Soyeon-02.jpg|thumb|right|180px|Yi So-yeon, South Korea's first astronaut in space]] South Korea has a space partnership with Russia[116] and has launched the Arirang-1 and Arirang-2 which both have surveillance cameras equipped. Naro Space Center, the first spaceport of South Korea, is scheduled to be completed by 2008 at Goheung, Jeollanam-do. Korea Space Center is expected to send a Korea Space Launch Vehicle into space in 2008.[117] The spaceport will be controlled by the state-run Korea Aerospace Research Institute and will contain features necessary for spaceflight operation having a launch tower, a control tower, rocket assembly, test facilities and space simulators.[118] The South Korean government has named Yi So-yeon as its first person to go to space after replacing its initial choice Ko San, at the request of the Russian Federal Space Agency, on March 10, 2008.[119] On 8 April 2008, Yi So-yeon became the first South Korean in space, aboard Soyuz TMA-12.


[[File:Einstein-Hubo.jpg|thumb|left|205px|Albert HUBO is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world.]] [[File:Ever-2.jpg|thumb|right|180px|EveR-2 is a highly sophisticated android capable of expressing human emotions naturally.]] South Korea is a world leader in the development and adoption of advanced robotics technology and has an ambitious plan to put a robot in every household by 2020.[110][111] Several robot cities are about to be constructed in the country, with the first city being built in 2009 at a cost of 500 billion won, of which 50 billion is direct government investment.[120] The new robot city will feature research and development centers for manufacturers and part suppliers, as well as exhibition halls and a stadium for robot competitions. The government is also investing another $1.3 billion to build two new robot theme parks in Incheon and Masan by 2013, which will be developed as centres for the country's robot industry, featuring a number of attractions that allow visitors to interact with robots and test new products.[121] The country's new Robotics Ethics Charter will establish ground rules and laws for human interaction with robots in the future, setting standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots to prevent human abuse of robots and vice versa.[122]

Faced with a critically low birth rate and an aging population, the country is quickly turning to robots to replace disappearing workers and loss of military manpower. Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology developed the world's second walking humanoid robot, HUBO. In 2005, KAIST announced they had created the world's smartest robot, able to think and learn like a human.[123] It is the first network based humanoid in the world taking advantage of South Korea's advanced communication network. In 2006, South Korean scientists from the Korea University of Science and Technology unveiled the world's second female android, Ever-1, capable of expressing human emotions. Its successors are expected to walk, sing and dance, to be used in department stores and museums, as well as reading stories to children. Engineers from Samsung Techwin revealed in 2006 the Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot, a machine-gunned sentry robot able to detect and repel intruders along the heavily armed border with North Korea.[124]

Communication technology

[[File:DMB phone in Seoul.jpg|thumb|right|205px|South Korea is the only country with nationwide DMB coverage for Digital TV on mobile devices such as cell phones.]] South Korea is the world's most connected "information society" leading or tied for top rankings in each of internet use, internet penetration, broadband penetration, mobile phone ownership, 3G mobile telecoms, WiFi hotspots and WiBro (Mobile WiMax) coverage. The ensuing ecosystem for online always-on services is a unique testbed for concepts for the future, including such areas as intelligent bridges with self-diagnostics, the automated parking place finder, the intelligent floors for hospitals, etc. The South Korean government has pushed very hard for eGovernment initiatives to provide most government services online. The economy from TV to advertising to banking to the automobile sector has embraced wireless broadband connectivity offering everything from digital broadcast TV to handhelds and cars, to over half of South Koreans using payment systems on their mobile phones. The first book to discuss the telecoms and digital convergence innovations of South Korea is Digital Korea by Ahonen and O'Reilly in 2007.


[[File:Snuppy.jpg|thumb|left|210px|Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog]] The South Korean biotechnology industry transformed from a fast-follower to an innovator with extensive R&D networks based on cooperation between industry, college, and research institute. Scientific quality of Korean biotechnology is confirmed from outstanding infrastructures through increasing innovative researchers, paper publications and patents registration. In addition, the incidence of aging and adult disease brings about increase of healthcare expenditures. Recently in Korea the number of clinical trials for the new drug development is growing with the best medical doctors/hospitals and advanced IT infrastructure. Korean government is focusing on the innovation of national biotechnology promotion policy and accelerating globalisation of bioindustry.

Among others, Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, demonstrated South Korea's leadership in the cloning and genetics field. It was the most advanced and complex animal cloned to-date and two females of an endangered species of wolf was cloned by the Seoul National University in 2007.[125] South Korea has now commercialised dog cloning technology and is receiving orders from countries worldwide for the cloning of the owners' pet dogs. In February 2008, a US woman paid $150,000 to RNL Bio, South Korea's first dog cloning business, so that her dead pet pit-bull terrier could be cloned from tissue samples that she sent.[126]


[[File:Korean pavillion.jpg|thumb|left|205px|A pavilion in Korea University, one of the oldest universities in South Korea]] [[File:Suwon Global Zone 7.JPG|thumb|right|205px|High-tech facilities in Samsung's Sungkyunkwan University]] Education in South Korea is regarded as being crucial to one's success and competition is consequently very heated and fierce. In the most recent OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, South Korea came first in problem solving, first in reading, third in mathematics and eleventh in science.[127]

A centralised administration in South Korea oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to the third and final year of high school. South Korea has adopted a new educational program to increase the number of their foreign students through the year 2010. According to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology estimate, by that time, the number of scholarships for foreign students in South Korea will be doubled, and the number of foreign students will reach 100,000.[128] Mathematics, science, Korean, social studies, and English are generally considered to be the most important subjects and are considered compulsory. South Korea was the first country in the world to provide high-speed internet access to every primary, junior, and high school. The school year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July; the second begins in late August and ends in mid-February. Each new school year starts in the beginning of March, unlike typical America's school year, where school year starts in the beginning of September. The schedules are not uniformly standardized and vary from school to school.


[[File:Typical evening in Han river park Seoul.jpg|thumb|left|200px|A park near the Han River in Seoul]] [[File:Myongdong2.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Myeongdong shopping district]] [[File:Lotte World Theme Park.jpg|thumb|right|200px|The Lotte World theme park]] Most South Koreans live in urban areas, due to rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.[129] The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. It had 10.3 million inhabitants in 2006, making Seoul one of the most populated single cities in the world.[130] Other major cities include Busan (3.65 million), Incheon (2.63 million), Daegu (2.53 million), Daejeon (1.46 million), Gwangju (1.41 million) and Ulsan (1.10 million).[131][dead link]

The population has also been shaped by international migration. Following the division of the Korean peninsula after World War II, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next forty years due to emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. However, South Korea's burgeoning economy and democracy in the early and mid-1990s slowed the high emigration rates typical of the previous decades. The current population of South Korea is roughly 48,850,000.

Although small, the percentage of non-Koreans has been increasing. Officially, as of the summer of 2007, there are just over 1 million foreigners living in Korea. That number includes foreign residents, students, tourists and illegal immigrants. Among them, 104,749 people were married to Koreans, 404,051 were working in Korea and 225,273 were illegal immigrants.[132]

South Korea's birthrate has fallen well below the level needed to replace the existing population, and there are currently between 9 and 10 births per 1000 people each year. [133]

Korean farmers have a hard time finding wives, as few women want to live in the countryside. Farmers are forced to look abroad to find wives, mostly from Southeast Asia, and increasingly from Eastern Europe. For the year 2006, 41% of the marriages amongst the farmers were to foreign nationals.[134]

There are 31,000 US military personnel.[135]


See also: Korean Shamanism, Korean Confucianism, Buddhism in Korea, and Christianity in Korea

Template:Bar box [[File:Korean.Folk.Village-Minsokchon-15.jpg|right|thumb|Jangseungs]] [[File:Korean ancestor veneration-Jesa-01.jpg|thumb|right|A traditional Korean Ancestor worship altar]] As of 2005, approximately 46.5% of the South Korean population express no religious preference.[136] Of the rest, most are Buddhist or Christian; according to the 2005 census, 29.2% of the population at that time was Christian (18.3% professed to being Protestants and 10.9% Catholics), and 22.8% were Buddhist.[137][138] Approximately half of Koreans (49.3% in 1995[139]) are unaffiliated with any religion, and the remaining portion (1.3% in 1995[139]) affiliated with other religions, including Islam and various new religious movements such as Jeungism, Daesunism, Cheondoism and Wonbuddhism.[citation needed]

Throughout history, numerous religions—including Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Korean Shamanism—have existed in Korea, and South Korea remains religiously diverse[140][141][142]. The relationship between numerous religions in Korea today has been described as one of "peaceful coexistence"[143], and government guarantees freedom of religion[144].

Korean shamanism is the original religion in South Korea. It is however interesting to note that religion in South Korea and in particular, the dominant religious faiths of Buddhism and Christianity have imbibed much from Confucianism as practiced in South Korea. Korean Confucianism had been the state religion of the Joseon Dynasty which ruled for 500 long years. More than being a religion in South Korea, Confucianism and its inherent values have actually become a way of life for the South Korean people.[145] Along with Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism was also a state religion in the periods from Three Kingdoms of Korea to Goryeo before suppression under the Joseon Dynasty.[146]

[[File:Yoido Full Gospel Church.jpg|left|thumb|The Yoido Full Gospel Church]] There are approximately 13.7 million Christians[144] (8.6 million Protestants and 5.1 million Catholics[137]) in the country today. The largest Christian church in South Korea, Yoido Full Gospel Church, is located in Seoul and has approximately 780,000 members (2003 estimate). Including Yoido Full Gospel, 11 of the world's 12 largest churches are located in Seoul. Roman Catholicism may be the fastest growing religion in South Korea since the late 1980s.[147] South Korea is also the second largest missionary-sending nation on earth, after the US.[148]

[[File:Seoul-Buddhist.temple-Jogyesa-04.jpg|right|thumb|The Jogyesa pagoda in Seoul]] Buddhism was introduced to Korea from China in the year 372[149]. According to the national census as of 2005, South Korea has over 10.7 million Buddhists.[144][150][151] Today, about 90% of Korean Buddhists belong to Jogye Order. Most of the National Treasures of South Korea are Buddhist artifacts.

There are an estimated 45,000 Islamic Koreans, in addition to some 100,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries,[152] particularly Bangladesh and Pakistan.[153]

A growing number of South Koreans adhere to new religious movements. Among these are Cheondoism (0.1%), Jeungism (0.07%) and Daesunjinrihoe.[136] These religions have developed as a reaction to the influence of Christianity and Western culture in Korean society. The exact figures of the amount of followers of these new religions remain controversial.

Largest cities

Main article: Cities of South Korea

The figures below are the 2007 estimates for the ten largest cities populations within administrative city limits; the figures below only include long-term residents.

Template:Largest cities of South Korea


South Korea shares its traditional culture with North Korea, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. The South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.[154] The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way Korean people live. Changing economics and lifestyles have led to a concentration of population in major cities, especially the capital Seoul, with multi-generational households separating into nuclear family living arrangements.


[[File:TVXQ - Bonjour Paris.jpg|thumb|left|205px|TVXQ, also known as the "Rising Gods of the East", is one of the most popular K-pop bands in Asia.]] [[File:Winter Sonata South Korean Drama.jpg|thumb|205px|Winter Sonata was a major element behind the success of the Korean wave.]] South Korean mainstream culture is highly popular throughout the Asian continent, and increasingly in South America and Eastern Europe in a phenomenon called the Korean wave. Many South Korean pop stars and groups are well known in East Asia and Southeast Asia. K-pop often emulates American popular music, and usually features young performers. The emergence of the group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for Korean popular music, as the group incorporated elements of American popular musical genres of rap, rock, and techno into its music. Dance-oriented acts were dominant in the Korean popular music scene of the 1990s. Popular artists who diverge from the traditional K-pop sound include BoA, Lee Jung Hyun, a female techno artist; H.O.T., a five-member pop group, 1TYM a four-member rap troupe; and Wax, a female singer. South Korea is also home to its own form of hip hop artists, including, SHINee, Shinhwa, Dong Bang Shin Ki, SS501, Jinusean, Drunken Tiger, Se7en, Super Junior, Bi/Rain,Lee Hyori Epik High,and Big Bang.

Since the success of the Korean film Shiri in 1999, Korean film has become more popular, both in South Korea and abroad. Today South Korea is one of the few countries where Hollywood productions do not enjoy a dominant share of the domestic market. This fact, however, is partly due to the existence of screen quotas requiring cinemas to show Korean films at least 73 days a year.

Korean television and especially the short form dramatic mini-series colloquially called "dramas" by Koreans have become extremely popular outside of Korea. Dramas were foremost among cultural exports driving the Korean Wave trend in Asia. The trend has driven Korean stars to fame and has done much to boost the image and prestige of Korean popular culture. Korean dramas are popular in China, Taiwan, Japan, South East Asian countries, Australia and even America (especially Asian-American communities). Dramas showcase a wide range of stories, but the most prominent among the export dramas have been romance ("Autumn Fairy Tale", "Winter Sonata", "All About Eve"), and historical/fantasy dramas ("Dae Jang Geum" , "Jewel in the Palace" , "The Legend (TV series)" and "Goong").


[[File:JJ 075.jpg|thumb|left|180px|Gimbap is a popular Korean "fast" food made from steamed rice and various other ingredients.]] [[File:Korean.tea-Daechucha-01.jpg|thumb|right|180px|Daechucha, a Korean tea made from Jujube]] [[File:Korean rice cake-Tteok-Gyeongdan-02.jpg|thumb|right|180px|Tteok, Korean sweet rice cakes]] Korean cuisine as a national cuisine known today has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Its roots can be traced back to myths and legends of antiquity. Evolving from a cuisine which was highly influenced by Chinese culture with Buddhism and Confucianism, the cuisine eventually came into its own by differentiating itself in a number of ways.

Ingredients and dishes vary by province. There are many significant regional dishes that have become both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, 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 culture of etiquette that is unique to Korea.

Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables, and meats. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of side dishes (banchan) that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal is accompanied by numerous banchan.[155] Kimchi, a fermented, spicy vegetable dish is usually served at every meal and is one of the best known Korean dishes. Korean cuisine usually involves heavy seasoning with sesame oil, doenjang (fermented soybean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and gochujang (red chili paste).

Soups are a common part of any Korean meal. Unlike other cultures, in Korean culture, soup is 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, formal soups known as tang are prepared with meats offered at ancestral rites, and jjigae are a thicker, simple soup or stew.[156]

Technology culture

[[File:Korean.culture-cellphone-01.jpg|thumb|left|155px|Feature rich, high-tech cell phones form an essential part of South Korean lifestyle.]] Modern South Korean culture is heavily dominated by technology. In recent years games, both online games, and the traditional board game baduk, have become a significant part of Korean culture. It is not uncommon to see games of Baduk (Go) replayed for analysis on TV stations like KBS1. Starcraft, the PC real-time strategy game is by far the most popular televised game in Korea. Games are often broadcast on TV stations such as MBCGame and Ongamenet. These tournaments are usually broadcast live and have sizeable crowds while they are recorded at shopping malls like COEX, in south-east of Seoul. Professional Starcraft players can command considerable salaries in Korea, and are usually noted celebrities, such as Lim Yo-Hwan. PC games are usually played in PC bangs which are basically internet cafes, dedicated to LAN games of popular titles like Kart Rider, Maple Story, World of Warcraft, Mabinogi, Lineage. This is by far the preferred pastime for students but is enjoyed by Koreans of all ages, male and female.

An estimated 90% of South Koreans own mobile phones and use them not only for calling and messaging but also for watching live TV, viewing websites and keeping track of their online gaming status. South Korean corporations Samsung and LG are the second and third largest cell phone companies in the world, and South Koreans are usually among the first to experience innovative features. New phones are expensive in South Korea, but this doesn't stop South Korean consumers changing their phones on average every 11 months. Many South Korean phones feature TV broadcasting through Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB), which now carries seven TV channels. Over one million DMB phones have been sold and providers like KTF and SK Telecom have provided coverage throughout many parts of major cities.


[[File:YunaKim 2008SASP.jpg|thumb|right|185px|Kim Yu-Na is a world leading figure skater and one of the most recognized athletes in South Korea.]] [[Files:Exhibicion dollyo chagui con apoyo.jpg|thumb|left|200px|A Taekwondo practitioner demonstrating dollyo chagui technique]]

Main article: Sport in South Korea

The martial art Taekwondo originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 60's, modern rules were standardised, and Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Taekwondo in the military is an integral part in the Korean land forces. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, hapkido, tangsoodo, kuksoolwon, Kumdo and subak.

The South Korean national football team is widely regarded as the most successful football team in Asia. It currently holds the best FIFA World Cup record among Asian teams[157] and in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, South Korea became the first and only Asian team to reach the semi-finals, beating Spain, Italy and Portugal in the knock-out stages. The football team, also known as the "Taeguk Warriors", played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany for their sixth consecutive World Cup.

In 1988, South Korea hosted the Summer Olympics in Seoul, coming fourth in the world with 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals and 11 bronze medals. South Korea regularly comes in the top ten countries in the Olympic Games, performing particularly strongly in archery, shooting, table tennis, badminton, short track speed skating, handball, hockey, freestyle wrestling,baseball, judo, taekwondo, and weightlifting. South Korea also hosted the Asian Games in 1986 and 2002.

Baseball was first introduced to Korea in 1905 and has since become the most popular spectator sport in South Korea.[158] The first South Korean professional sports league was the Korea Baseball Organization, established in 1982. During the 2006 World Baseball Classic, South Korea finished third. In the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing, South Korea won the gold medal, beating Cuba 3-2 in the finals on a home run by Lee Seung Yub.

In 2007, South Korea hosted a cycling competition called Tour de Korea. It was the first international cycling competition in South Korea in 10 years. In 2010 South Korea will host their first Formula One race to be staged at Korean International Circuit in Yeongam about 240 miles (Template:Convert/pround km) south of Seoul.


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