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_________

country

_________

South Korea

Capital Seoul
Continent Asia
Code +82
Currency South Korean won (₩)
Languages Korean , Korean Sign Language , Korean , Korean Sign Language

Description

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. Its western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan. About 25 million people, around half of the country's population of 51 million, live in the Seoul Capital Area.

The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea into Silla and Balhae in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). The succeeding Korean Empire was annexed in 1910 into the Empire of Japan. Japanese rule in Korea ended following the former's surrender in World War II, after which Korea was divided into two zones; a northern zone occupied by the Soviet Union and a southern zone occupied by the United States. After negotiations on reunification 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, which saw extensive United States-led U.N. Intervention in support of the South, while 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 led to the end of authoritarian rule in 1987 and the country is now considered among the most advanced democracies in Asia, with the highest level of press freedom. However, political scandals have been problems in recent years; both living former South Korean presidents have been sentenced to prison for various crimes ranging from abuse of authority to bribery and embezzlement, with one still serving his sentence.

South Korea is a developed country and is ranked as the seventh-highest country on the Human Development Index (HDI) in the Asia and Oceania region. Its economy 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), TV dramas, and cinema, a phenomenon referred to as the Korean Wave. It is a member of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, the G20, and the Paris Club.

History

The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. The history of Korea begins with the founding of Joseon (also known as "Gojoseon", or Old Joseon, to differentiate it from the 14th-century dynasty) in 2333 BCE by dungeon, according to Korea's foundation mythology. Gojoseon was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled the northern Korean Peninsula and parts of Manchuria. Gija Joseon 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 defeated Wiman Joseon and installed four commanderies in the northern Korean peninsula. Three of the commanders fell or retreated westward within a few decades. As Lelang commandery 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 in 313.

Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism between the Soviet Union and the United States eventually led to the establishment of separate governments, each with its ideology, leading to the division of Korea into two political entities in 1948: North Korea and South Korea. In the South, 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, 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 were observed by the Temporary Commission" in addition to a statement that "this is the only such government in Korea." Both leaders began authoritarian repression of their political opponents inside their region, seeking for the 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.

Geography

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 1,100 km (680 mi) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west and the 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 33° and 39°N, and longitudes 124° and 130°E. Its total area is 100,032 square kilometers (38,622.57 sq mi).

South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, 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 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. 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 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometers (712 square miles). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches 1,950 meters (6,400 feet) 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 20 national parks and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, and the first national park of Jirisan.

Government 

The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy.

The constitution has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948 at independence. However, it has retained many broad characteristics and except for 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 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 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.

Economy

South Korea's mixed economy ranks 10th nominal and 13th purchasing power parity GDP in the world, identifying it as one of the G-20 major economies. It is a developed country with a high-income economy and is the most industrialized member country of the OECD. South Korean brands such as LG Electronics and Samsung are internationally famous and garnered South Korea's reputation for their 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 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 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 hurts 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 we're able to avoid a recession during the 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 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996.

Culture

South Korea shares its traditional culture with North Korea, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. Historically, while the culture of Korea has been heavily influenced by that of neighboring China, it has nevertheless managed to develop a unique cultural identity that is distinct from its larger neighbor. Its vibrant cultural left 21 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the fourth largest in the world, along with 15 World Heritage Sites. The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.

The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way 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 every week 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.

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