Facts


Population: 50.22 million (2013)
Capital: Seoul
Area: 38,691 mi²


About Norway
South Korea is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Highly urbanized at 92%, South Koreans lead a distinctive urban lifestyle; half of them live in high-rises concentrated in the Seoul Capital Area with 25 million residents and the world’s sixth leading global city with the fourth largest economy and seventh most sustainable city in the world.
The earliest Korean pottery dates to 8000 BC,with three kingdoms flourishing in the 1st century BC. The name Korea is derived from one of them, Goguryeo, also known as Koryŏ, which was a powerful empire and one of the great powers in East Asia, ruling Northeast China, parts of Russia and Inner Mongolia, and more than two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since their unification into Later Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under long lasting dynasties, with innovations like Hangul, the unique alphabet created by Sejong the Great in 1446, enabling anyone to easily learn to read and write. Its rich and vibrant culture left 17 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the third largest in the world, along with 12 World Heritage Sites. Annexed by Imperial Japan in 1910 due to its strategic and central location, Korea was divided into North and South after its surrender in 1945. A North Korean invasion led to the Korean War (1950–53). Peace has since mostly continued with the two agreeing to work peacefully for reunification and the South solidifying peace as a regional power with the world’s 10th largest defence budget.


Currency

Korea’s currency is the won (W). In some tourist areas, merchants may be willing to accept U.S. dollars or Japanese yen, but the exchange rate will be worse than the official rate. Most banks and hotels can exchange money, and most will also take travelers checks. Cash advances on non-Korean credit cards can be made in most subway stations and banks. Many international banks have offices in Seoul, and a few have branches in Pusan.


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 heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma (장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F) in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is −7 to 1 °C (19 to 34 °F), and the average August temperature range is 22 to 30 °C (72 to 86 °F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior.
Summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid, with temperatures exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) in most parts of the country. South Korea has four distinct seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring usually lasts from late-March to early-May, summer from mid-May to early-September, autumn from mid-September to early-November, and winter from mid-November to mid-March.
Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds, heavy rains and sometime floods. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimetres (54 in) in Seoul to 1,470 millimetres (58 in) in Busan.


Language
The Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altic family of languages which also includes Turkish and Mongolian. Although the language contains many words derived from Chinese and printed media still use Chinese ideographs to represent many of those words, structurally the two languages are very different. Korean is closer to the Japanese language linguistically.


Economy
South Korea’s mixed economy ranks 11th 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.
With its massive investment in education has taken the country from mass illiteracy to a major international technological powerhouse. South Korea’s economy was one of the world’s fastest-growing from the early 1960s to the late 1990s, and South Korea is still one of the fastest-growing developed countries in the 2000s, along with Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, the other three Asian Tigers. 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 5th largest exporter and 7th largest importer in the world.
South Korea hosted the fifth G20 summit in its capital city, Seoul, in November 2010. The two-day summit was expected to boost South Korea’s economy by 31 trillion won, or 4% of South Korea’s 2010 GDP, in economic effects, and create over 160,000 jobs in South Korea. It may also help improve the country’s sovereign credit rating.
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. 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 Asian economic crisis of the late 1990s, the South Korean economy managed a rapid recovery and subsequently tripled its GDP.


Health
The quality of healthcare will vary depending on where you are and it is generally very high. The sheer number of hospitals and specialized clinics in the country will also offer you plenty of choice. Treatment is high-quality; Korean healthcare is known worldwide for its excellence in both research and clinical medicine.
Most Korean doctors can communicate in English, being the most highly educated in the country.
Although health care in South Korea is not free, it is heavily subsidized by the government and is very cheap more so in the clinics. For expatriate workers who have a medical insurance card (this is required), it is even less expensive (although it is still not free).
In addition to Western medicine, Oriental medicine is quite popular in Korea. Herbal supplements can be bought in most pharmacies as well as from shops which produce their own. The most popular herbal supplements (such as Ginseng) can even be bought in convenience stores in the form of energy drinks, tea, gum, and alcohol. This is not to be ignored, as Oriental medicine has deep roots and a university degree is a prerequisite to practice, (unlike psuedo-oriental-clinics in western countries where the owner may not have proper qualifications). Though such herbal medicines can be effective, they should not be taken instead of modern medicine.
Pharmacies are usually located near hospitals, as hospitals in Korea are not allowed to dispense take-home prescriptions (with the exception of Emergency Rooms). Prescriptions are dispensed in small paper packages.
Although there are no official vaccinations that are required or recommended for visitors, Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is transmitted through food and water. Once infected, time is the only cure. The Center for Disease Control designates the prevalence of infection in Korea to be intermediate.
A good basic rule to follow when travelling is when it comes to food, do what the locals do especially when it comes to water. Most will have it filtered or boiled before drinking. Although tap water in Korea is perfectly safe to drink, you may want to follow the local habits, if only to get rid of the chlorine smell. However, as Kangwon-do is predominantly rural, it has the safest drinking water in the whole country. There are usually signs around water sources that imply that the water is safe to drink.


Education
In Korean culture, education is the key to success in life. The school one graduates from can determine whether one will be a success or failure. To many Korean parents, the education of their children outweighs all other considerations, and they will make tremendous sacrifices to let their children get the best education possible.
The Korean education system consists of six years of primary school, three years of middle school, then three years of high school. Those who pass the national exam go on to 4-year colleges or universities. Others go to 2-year junior colleges, while the rest enter the work force. Until recently, most middle and high schools were segregated by sex. However, because of complaints about differences in education levels between the boys and girls schools and socialization problems later in life, most schools have gone co-ed.

 


Culture and Religion
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. The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.
The industrialization and urbanization of South Korea have brought many changes to the way Korean people 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.


Korean art has been highly influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism, which can be seen in the many traditional paintings, sculptures, ceramics and the performing arts. Korean pottery and porcelain, such as Joseon’s baekja and buncheong, and Goryeo’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 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.


Getting Around
South Korea has a technologically advanced transport network consisting of high-speed railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services, and air routes that criss-cross the country. Korea Expressway Corporation operates the toll highways and service amenities en route.
Korail provides frequent train services to all major South Korean cities. Two rail lines, Gyeongui and Donghae Bukbu Line, to North Korea are now being reconnected. The Korean high-speed rail system, KTX, provides high-speed service along Gyeongbu and Honam Line. Major cities including Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju have urban rapid transit systems. Express bus terminals are available in most cities.
South Korea’s largest airport, Incheon International Airport, was completed in 2001. By 2007, it was serving 30 million passengers a year. Other international airports include Gimpo, Busan and Jeju. There are also seven domestic airports, and a large number of heliports.

Comments are closed.