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The history of South Korea formally begins with the establishment of South Korea on 15 August 1948 while Syngman Rhee declared the establishment in Seoul on 13 August 1948 . In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea which ended with Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel north in accordance with a United Nations arrangement, to be administered by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. The Soviets and Americans were unable to agree on the implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea. This led in 1948 to the establishment of two separate governments, each claiming to be the legitimate government of all of Korea. Eventually, following the Korean War , the two separate governments stabilized into the existing political entities of North and South Korea.
South Korea's subsequent history is marked by alternating periods of democratic and autocratic rule. Civilian governments are conventionally numbered from the First Republic of Syngman Rhee to the contemporary Sixth Republic . The First Republic, arguably democratic at its inception, became increasingly autocratic until its collapse in 1960. The Second Republic was strongly democratic, but was overthrown in less than a year and replaced by an autocratic military regime. The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics were nominally democratic, but are widely regarded as the continuation of military rule. With the Sixth Republic, the country has gradually stabilized into a liberal democracy. Since its inception, South Korea has seen substantial development in education , economy , and culture . Since the 1960s, the country has developed from one of Asia's poorest to one of the world's wealthiest nations. Education, particularly at the tertiary level, has expanded dramatically. It is one of the "Four Tigers" of rising South Asian states along with Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
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. The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. According to 2005 census, Seoul had a population of 9.8 million inhabitants. The Seoul National Capital Area has 24.5 million inhabitants making it the world's second largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.5 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1 million). 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. South Korea’s total population in 1960 was 25 million. The current population of South Korea is roughly 49,540,000.
South Korea is a homogeneous society with an absolute majority of the population of Korean ethnicity. 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. There are 31,000 US military personnel. Another notable group is women from Southeast Asia who comprised 41% of new marriages with Korean farmers in 2006. South Korea’s birthrate is the world's lowest. If this continues, its population is expected to decrease by 13 percent to 42.3 million in 2050, South Korea's annual birthrate is approximately 9 births per 1000 people. The average Life expectancy in 2008 was 79.10 years, which is 40th in the world.
Dolmens, relics of the prehistoric megalithic culture, are being nearthed worldwide. Among the well-known megalithic relics are Stone Henge in England and Moai stone statues on Chile's Easter Island. Although dolmens are scattered around the world, few places have the large numbers clustered in relatively small areas that Korea does. Relics found in these regions are invaluable for studies on the culture and society of prehistoric Korea. In particular, the Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa dolmen sites-highly praised for their archaeological worth-were added to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list in 2000.
Begun hwasang chorok buljo jikjisimcheyojeol (Vol.II), the second volume of "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings" Jikjisimcheyojeol, often abbreviated as Jikji, is the world's oldest text printed with metal type, predating by some 70 years Germany's Gutenberg Bible published in 1455. Jikji is a collection of Buddhist treatises and teachings compiled by the ancient monk Baegun at Heungdeok-sa Temple in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, in July 1377. Originally two volumes, only its latter volume is still extant. It is in the possession of the National Library of France in Paris. Jikji was inscribed in the Memory of the World Register in September, 2001, in an effort to preserve its documentary heritage as a common heritage of humanity.
Geobukseon is a battleship engineered by a cientist at the order of Admiral Yi Sun-sin of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea's most-revered hero. "Turtle" is "geobuk" in Korean, and the similarity in appearance between these two hard-shelled creatures explains the name. The upper deck was covered with a rounded wooden roof that itself was studded with pointed iron spikes to repel enemies trying to board. During the war, Admiral Yi Sun-sin won every one of at least 23 naval battles he fought, boasting an unprecedented record of victories. Admiral Yi has often been compared with Lord Nelson, the British hero who triumphed over the French-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Both admirals fought for the destiny of their countries and saved their countrymen from foreign invasion by securing key naval victories. Recognized as a breakthrough in military technology, Geobukseon replicas are on exhibit in a number of national museums, including the War Memorial of Korea, the War Memorial Museum in the U.S., the National Maritime Museum in England and historical museums in China, Germany and other countries.
King Sejong decreed the creation of the Korean alphabet Hangeul to ease the life of commoners in 15th century Joseon. In 1446, the first Korean alphabet system consisting of 14 consonants and 10 vowels was completed and proclaimed "Hunminjeongeum," literally "the correct sounds for the instruction of the people." Along with the creation of Korean letters, King Sejong published a manual explaining their derivation and how to use them properly. It has become a UNESCO World Documentary Heritage, and the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize-established in 1989-annually pays tribute to those who have made outstanding achievements in promoting literacy.
Ondol is a uniquely Korean heating system that can be traced back to the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo. Unlike Western heaters that generally warm the air, ondol heats the floor of a room. Invented by ancient Koreans, the original system worked by heating a large stone under a living space: Smoke from a fire just outside the dwelling was forced under the stone and exited on the other side. The system survives today in modern houses and apartments where water heated in gas or electric boilers is circulated through pipes encased in cement floors.
Among the various kinds of Korea Insam(ginseng) grown around the world, the Korean variety, Goryeo ginseng-named after the ancient Korean kingdom- is unsurpassed in aroma and flavor. Goryeo ginseng grows best in the soil and climate found on the peninsula. The Korean people have traditionally treated Korea Insam(ginseng) as medicine as well as a health food supplement. In fact, a study on ginseng's efficacy conducted by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that subjects taking Korea Insam(ginseng) extract suffered fewer cold symptoms. Of all the varieties of Korea Insam(ginseng) classified GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, only Goryeo has been listed in the European Union's pharmacopoeia.
As Germans relish sausages, Indians curry, Italians pizza, the Korean people love kimchi. A staple that accompanies Koreans on journeys across the world, kimchi is a pungent, fermented dish made from a range of vegetables-cabbage, cucumbers, seasoned with salt, garlic, green onions, ginger, red chili pepper and other herbs and spices. It may be savored as it is or used as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. On July 5, 2001, kimchi was approved as an international standard by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), an international organization in charge of setting up internationally available food standards with the goal of promoting the trade of food items. Furthermore, an American monthly magazine Health, selected kimchi as one of the world's five healthiest foods in its March online edition. According to the magazine, kimchi is rich in Vitamins A, B and C and bacteria lactobacilli, healthful bacteria that aid digestion.
Like many democracies,South Korea's government is 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 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.South Korea has developed a successful liberal democracy since the 1960s and the first direct election was held in 1948. The CIA World Factbook describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy".
SEOUL, South Korea — President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea faced double crises on Monday as a North Korean nuclear test caught his government off-guard and he struggled to soothe political rancor over the suicide of his predecessor, Roh Moo- hyun . In one of the biggest outpourings of national grief in years, the central and provincial governments and religious and civic groups opened 300 mourning centers across the country on Monday. Long lines of Cabinet ministers and ordinary citizens streamed into the centers to pay respects to Mr. Roh. About 180,000 mourners have journeyed to Mr. Roh’s rural home village of Bongha on the south coast alone. The country’s major Web sites have posted a black-and-white photo of Mr. Roh and created special sections to permit hundreds of thousands of citizens to post their condolences. The former president jumped off a cliff on Saturday as prosecutors investigated allegations that he and his family took $6.4 million from a businessman. Many South Koreans said they believe that Mr. Roh, whether guilty or not, was driven to end his life because of relentless pressure from a politically motivated investigation orchestrated by the government of President Lee.
“ He is the victim of the vicious circle of an incumbent president strengthening his political hand by relentlessly shaming and trampling on his predecessor in our country,” Yang Chun-shik, a 35-year-old office worker, said Monday, reflecting a common view shared by mourners interviewed Sunday and Monday. Mr. Lee must decide whether to accept the Roh family’s wish to hold his funeral on Friday in central Seoul. That would certainly draw a huge crowd and could turn into an anti-government protest similar to demonstrations that crippled Mr. Lee’s government for weeks last summer. In a sign of simmering tension, Mr. Roh’s supporters continued to turn away ruling-party lawmakers who travelled to Bongha to pay tribute. As he struggled over how to prevent Mr. Roh’s funeral from developing into another crisis, Mr. Lee also faced the news Monday that North Korea had conducted its second nuclear test. Earlier Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had expressed “profound condolences” to Mr. Roh’s widow, Kwon Yang-sook, but gave the Seoul government no hint of the nuclear test. Mr. Roh, who sought reconciliation with North Korea while in office from 2003 to 2008, traveled to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, in 2007 for a landmark summit with Mr. Kim. But inter-Korean ties chilled dramatically after Mr. Lee took office in February 2008, promising a tougher policy on the North.
South Korea had the world's second-fastest growing economy from 1960 to 1990. Korea's transformation into a developed country during this time was termed the Miracle on the Han River , and South Korea was considered one of the Four Asian Tigers . The growth surge was achieved by paying low wages to manufacture labour-intensive goods, aimed at export.South Korea is a member of the OECD , and is classified as a High-income economy by the World Bank and an Advanced economy by the IMF and CIA and a Developed market by the FTSE Group . However, it is still considered an emerging market by MSCI due to "lack of full convertibility of the won, the rigidity of the identification system, and anti-competitive practices". Its capital, Seoul, is one of the world's top ten financial and commercial cities. and the richest region is Ulsan , In 2007, Ulsan's GDP per capita was estimated at $58,665. 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 15th largest in the world. 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 and the eighth largest trading partner of the European Union. South Korea had the second-highest savings rate in the developed world in the decade to 2001, although it is expected to plummet to the bottom of the OECD in 2010, due to people are busy paying interest on housing loans and many have to pay for their children's private education.
Today, the South Korean economy is dominated by Chaebol, a type of business conglomerate. These are government-supported powerful global multinationals owning numerous international enterprises. The Korean word means "business family" or "monopoly" and is often used the way "conglomerate" is used in English. South Korea is the world's largest shipbuilder , and one of the world's top five automobile manufacturing nations. South Korea is also the world’s fourth largest crude oil importer and Asia's biggest exporter of refined oil products. In 2008, Free Trade Agreements with the US (also known as KORUS FTA ) and EU were carried out. At that time, Korea's GDP (PPP) per capita was estimated at $27,646
Proud Path Covered by the Glorious KPA The 70-odd year-long path covered by the Korean People's Army overcoming the harsh ordeals of revolution is a proud history in which it adorned the annals of the arduous and complicated Korean revolution with the heroic struggle and feats and has been developed and strengthened into the army of the party and the leader. It is also a worthwhile history in which it displayed far and wide the honor of victors in the struggle to defend socialism by smashing in every step the ferocious moves of the US and other imperialists to stifle the DPRK. The KPA is the revolutionary armed forces of Juche which great President Kim Il Sung, brilliant commander sent by heaven, founded in the early days of the anti-Japanese revolution and strengthened into a revolutionary army of the independent era through the historical practice of the Korean revolution .
The President, who embarked on the road of revolution in the darkest period of the Japanese imperialist rule, set forward the idea and line of giving precedence to arms and military affairs for the first time in history, and on that basis he founded the Korean People's Revolutionary Army, the first-ever revolutionary armed forces of the Korean people on April 25, 1932. Thanks to the illustrious leadership of the great President who was possessed of gifted military wisdom and protean tactics, the KPA waged the 15 year-long anti-Japanese armed struggle with firm confidence of victory and indomitable revolutionary spirit in the worst hardships beyond human imagination, defeated Japanese imperialism and at last brilliantly achieved the historical cause of the national liberation. After the country¡¯s liberation the President, by clairvoyantly seeing through the crisis of national division caused by the US occupation of south Korea and the prospect of the building of a new society, developed the Korean People's Revolutionary Army into the KPA without delay.
The KPA which had grown to a regular revolutionary armed force under the prominent guidance of the President meted out the disgraceful defeat to the US aggressors who boasted of being ¡°the strongest in the world¡± by displaying mass heroism and matchless sacrificing spirit in the last Korean War broken out by the US imperialists in the 1950s, and achieved the historical victory. After the war the KPA reliably safeguarded the security of the fatherland and people crushing the incessant US moves of aggression and a new war, and has militarily guaranteed the socialist revolution and construction of the Korean people amid the acute and complicated class struggle. Under the commandership of Marshal Kim Jong Il, the peerless brilliant commander of Songun, the KPA has been adamantly succeeding the genuine history of the Juche-oriented cause of army building and could be exalted on a new high stage of its development. It is entirely thanks to the great Songun revolutionary leadership of Kim Jong Il that the KPA has been developed into invincible revolutionary armed forces which have the appearance of the army of the leader and the supreme commander on the highest level, and discharged its mission and role as the core unit of revolution in the do-or-die struggle to defend the fatherland and in the construction of a thriving socialist country.
For leader Kim Jong Il applies the outstanding Songun politics that puts up the KPA as the driving force of the revolution, the fellow countrymen could speed up the advance of independent reunification by the concerted efforts of the nation under the banner of the June 15 joint declaration, the milestone for the reunification in the 21st century, though the obstruction moves of the anti-reunification forces at home and abroad are vicious. It is indeed a great honor and pride for all the Koreans to have the KPA which displays its might to the full as the strong army and guarantees the security of the nation and the country¡¯s reunification with arms under the commandership of Kim Jong Il. Therefore, the patriotic people in south Korea and the progressive humankind of the world extol Marshal Kim Jong Il as the iron-willed brilliant commander and illustrious general born of heaven who brought up the KPA to an invincible revolutionary army with the great Songun leadership, and highly praise the KPA which has smashed in every step the vicious moves of the US-led imperialists to strangle the DPRK and displays to the full the honor of victors in the struggle to defend socialism and in the socialist construction. The KPA which upholds the superior Songun leadership and Songun politics of great Songun commander Kim Jong Il will always win victory.
Education in South Korea is regarded as being crucial to one's success and competition is consequently very heated and fierce. In the 2006 results of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment , South Korea came first in problem solving , third in mathematics and eleventh in science . [ unreliable source? ] 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. The school year is divided into two semesters, the first of which begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July, the second of which begins in late August and ends in mid-February.The schedules are not uniformly standardized and vary from school to school.
The Korean traditional performing arts expressing the ordinary people's life through the history is a synthetic art composed with songs, dances, music, and comedy. It was started from long ago before the art form is divided into several different genres of music, dance, and so on. And it is expected as the model of the future art. When regarded the contents, the free style of expression of one's feeling accompanying the impromptu and the reflection of the real life are the important characteristics of the Korean traditional performing arts. Thus, the works have the power to sympathize with the audiences transcending the time. The Korean traditional performing arts has dealt with every aspect of life and carefully expressed the change of a world view and values according to the current of time. Besides the serious spirit of the time, there is another important factor in the Korean traditional performing arts. The open space is that. Of course there is a basic frame of the form and contents, but the works are thoroughly influenced by the time and place.
The place is open to all and the audiences are not just appreciators but participants who give feed backs and reactions promptly. And so the performers must have the promptness as well as accomplishments. The Korean traditional performing arts do not only express the life but is the life itself. However, not vice versa, because the performances need to have basic formation or dramatic structure with music, dance or songs. There are many kinds of plays and accomplishments, singing with various forms, a masque, a doll play, Pansori, the mimic stage in the Korean traditional performing arts. Also there is a modernized form of performance, such as a Korean classical opera or a musical. Gwanghwamun Art Hall Gwanghwamun Art Hall is the first permanent theater where the Korean traditional performing arts are taking place. It is based on the floor art, the main characteristic of the Korean traditional performing arts, and shows the special features of the traditional performances to the Korean and foreign audiences. The art hall is a small theater of 370 seats and making the Korean style performing culture with the audiences. How to get to the Gwanghwamun Art Hall Get off at Gyeongbokgung palace Stn. Subway Line 3, go out exit 1, and 10 minutes' walk