Facts You Need To Know About South Korea
South Korea is an undiscovered country, where you can travel for a week and never see a western face, and the language, culture and cuisine are unique - recognisably Asian but with a very Korean twist.
Its capital city is Seoul, with a total population of 48.9 million, an area of 98,480 Sq Km and its official language is Korean.
Eighty percent of South Korea is forest-covered mountains and hills, which are studded with brightly painted wooden Buddhist temples. The southwestern plains are the country's food basket, with small orchards, polythene greenhouses and irrigated rice fields patrolled by white egrets. Hundreds of hilly islands, mainly scattered off the southern coast, are rural idylls inhabited by fisherfolk and farmers.
History in a nutshell
A confucian, slave-based monarchy ruled until it collapsed in 1910, when Japan colonized the country. In 1945 independence arrived, following the Japanese defeat in World War II. But Korea was soon divided onto North and South, and a devastating civil war ( 1950-53 ) was sparked off by an invasion from the North. Since 1953 the South has achieved miraculous economic development and is now the worlds 10th largest economy.
South Koreans pride themselves on their mono ethnic identity, although international marriages are increasing, particularly of the population are Buddhist; another quarter are Christian, mainly Protestant, making Korea one of the few Asian countries with a significant number of Christians. Politics often sees the eastern provinces pitted against the western provinces. In general, Koreans are hard-working, usually in a rush and great believes in education.
After a setback in the late 1990's caused by a financial crisis, the South Korean economy continues to power ahead, boosted by rising exports of semiconductors, mobile phone, ships, cars and just about everything else. Expat English teachers earn over US$2,000 a month and also receive free accommodation and other benefits.
Green forest-covered mountains and hills, indented with steams and lakes, take on glorious red and yellow hues in Autumn, and are crisscrossed by trails enjoyed by a multitude jolly hikers. Ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries are hidden away in remote valleys. The country's 20 national parks are still home to a few bears, antelopes and roe deer. South Korea's coastline has many unspoilt off-shore islands, where a relaxing rural lifestyle still prevails crowded in the hot, humid summer months of July and August.
Many meals are accompanied by rice, soup ( Spicy or bland, hot or cold ) and side dishes such as anchovies, salad, radish and fiery Kimchi. Besides the well-known on-your-table barbecues or beef or pork ( often served with lettuce and sesame leaf wraps ), tofu and bean curd stews are popular. Because of their hectic lifestyles, families do not usually eat together except on Sunday.
The South Korea festival that foreigners enjoy most is the midsummer mudness of the Boryeong Mud Festival, held over seven days in late July at Daecheon Beach on the west coast. Bring out the child within with mud slides, mud softball, mud wrestling, mud skin treatments and mud massages. You can even buy mud soap.
- Traffic rules are not enforced
- Many Koreans love raw food, especially raw fish and seafood
- For most of its history, Korea is a slave owning aristocracy-cum monarchy
- Only foreigners are allowed into Korean casinos
- Korea gays are still in the closet
- Korea has more Saunas than finland
- There is no tipping in Korea
- All korean men must serve two years in the armed services
- Samsung and Hyundai
- A divided country
- Tae Kwon do
- Ginseng, the wonder root
- "Kimchi" ( a spicy cabbage side dish )
- Dog restaurants
- 'Examination hell and Intense competition for university places
- Reaching the World cup soccer semifinals in 2002
? Soft pillows
? Sit down toilets
? Dutch soccer coaches
? American baseball and basketball players
? English teachers
? Vietnamese wives for Korean farmers
⇐ Movies, TV dramas, pop music and fashions to all of Asia
⇐ Park Ji-sung to play for Manchester United football club
⇐ IT products
⇐ Three million cars a year
⇐ Package tourists
⇐ Orphans adopted by US parents
Local movies cover every genre, have improved greatly in recent years and now challenge Hollywood for box office supremacy in Korea.
- The Presidents "Last Bang" ( 2005 ) takes a highly satirical look at the 1979 assassination of Park Chung Hee.
- Marathon ( 2005 ) stars a very amusing young autistic man and his long-suffering mother.
- JSA (2001 ) is a taut thriller about a friendship across the Demilitarsed Zome ( DMZ ) between soldiers from South and North Korea.
- My "Sassy girl" ( 2001 ) tells the humorous story of a girlish guy and his bossy girlfriend.
- Untold Scandal ( 2004 ) is a stylised historical drama about a pleasure-loving confucian nobleman and a virtuous catholic woman
? Stepping into Korea's feudal past in Seoul's impressive and varied Confucian palaces
? Exploring the relics of the ancient Silla dynasty around Gyeongju Gyeongsangbuk province
? Dancing the night away in Seoul in Hongik's student clubs or Itaewon's expat nightclubs
? Feeling the chill of the Cold War on a tour of Panmujeom, where communist and capitalist armies still face off across the DMZ , 55 kilometers north of Seoul
? Touring the spectacular volcanic scenery of Jejudo, Korea's southerly honeymoon island, with its scenic craters, giant lava tubes, black-sand beaches and the country's highest mountain, Hallasan ( 1950 meters )
? Hiking around the world heritage 18th century fortress wall that stretches for over five kilometers in Suwon City, just south of Seoul
? Experiencing a 'roof of the world' feeling atop Ulsanbawi in Seoraksan National Park in Gangwon Province
? Relaxing body and mind in one of the many Jjimjilbang, luxury hot-spring spas with varied saunas
? Getting lost in the alleyways of Jeonju Hanok village, which recreates the lost world of aristocratic Confucian scholars
? Climbing inside a captured North Korean submarine near JEONGDONGJIN on the east coast
"Best advised to visit is around the month of September to Mid-November, mid-April to mid-June."