South Korea – Republic of Korea a state in East Asia

South Korea

Republic of Korea (root 대한민국 , Taeanminguk, literally “Great Han Republic”) is a state in East Asia, in the south of the Korean Peninsula. To distinguish the Republic of Korea from the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it is often referred to as South Korea. And among the many poetic epithets attributed to Korea, the name “Land of Morning Freshness” is the most common.

Geographic location of South Korea

The Republic of Korea occupies the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Its boundaries were essentially defined as a result of World War II. After liberation from the Japanese, as a result of the Soviet-American treaty in the late summer of 1945, Korea was divided into zones of influence: the part of Korea south of the 38th parallel was placed under U.S. jurisdiction, the northern part under the Soviet Union jurisdiction, in both parts separate governments were formed and unified Korea was divided. The pro-Soviet North became a socialist state with a communist government, the pro-American South a capitalist state with a democratic system. The confrontation between the North and the South (and between the USSR and the US) led to the Korean War of 1950-53, which left the peninsula divided.

South Korea is bounded by the Yellow Sea to the west and the Sea of Japan to the east and the Strait of Korea and the East China Sea to the south. The northern boundary is formed by the demilitarized zone that divided North Korea and the Republic of Korea as a result of the Korean War. The total area of South Korea is comparatively small – nearly 100 thousand km 2 , it is the smallest country of East Asia. Korea’s landscape is predominantly mountainous, and its coastline is highly indented. Korea has approximately 3,000 islands. Korea has about 3,000 islands, the largest of which is Jeju-do. South Korea’s highest point is Hallasan Volcano on Jeju-do (1950 m).

Climate of Korea

The climate in Korea is monsoon and seasonality is quite pronounced, there are four distinct seasons.

Summers are hot and humid, and winters are relatively cold and dry. Spring and autumn are the most comfortable.

Typhoons in Korea are possible, but their probability is much lower compared with other countries in the region.

Features of South Korea

Population

South Korea has a population of approx. South Korea has a population of about 50 million people. The vast majority are ethnic Koreans – the indigenous people of the Korean Peninsula. Most of them are Chinese minority (among which there are in fact quite a few Koreans), few migrant workers from various Asian countries, and many ethnic Europeans in big cities (especially in Seoul).

Only about half of the Koreans consider themselves believers; a little more than half of them are Christians, and a little less are Buddhists. Historically, Korean culture has been greatly influenced by Confucianism.

The official language is Korean, which is not in any known language family. English is compulsory at school, so the level of English is quite high in South Korea.

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Time

The entire country lies in a single time zone, (GMT+9).

There is no daylight saving time.

The time in South Korea is 5 hours ahead of Moscow.

Money

The national currency of the Republic of Korea is the won. There are 50,000, 10,000, 5,000 and 1,000 won banknotes in circulation (often called just “won” meaning “thousand”) and coins of 500, 100, 50 and 10 won. Smaller coins of 1 and 5 won are hardly ever used.

Money can be changed at banks, special exchange offices, and large hotels. U.S. dollars are accepted in many small stores and at markets, as is local currency.

VISA, American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and JCB credit cards are widely accepted.

Banks are open on weekdays from 9:30 to 16:30 and on Saturdays until 13:30. Weekend is Sunday. ATMs are open from 9:30 to 22:00 (some 24 hours a day).

Tipping is not accepted in Korea. Tourist hotels charge 10% of your bill for services. 3-10% is charged by large restaurants.

South Korea

Republic of Korea (대한민국민 Daehanminguk ) is a country in East Asia, located on the Korean Peninsula. The unofficial name of the country, commonly used in the Russian-language press, is South Korea.

Contents

Name

In Korean, the Republic of Korea is called Daehanminguk (대한민국 (info.) ), 大韓民國. A more common abbreviation of the full name is Hanguk ( 한국 ), 韓國. Sometimes they also say Namhan ( 남한 ), which means “Southern Han,” as opposed to Pukhan ( 북한 ), which is North Korea. The word Han refers to the ancient Samhan tribal unions that were located on the Korean peninsula. The word “Korea” comes from the name of the state of Goryeo, which existed on the peninsula in 918-1392 AD. The name Goryeo in turn dates back to the ancient state of Goguryeo, which at its heyday occupied the northern part of the Korean peninsula, as well as parts of present-day north-eastern China and the current Russian Primorye.

History

The history of South Korea begins with the Soviet-American agreement in the late summer of 1945 on the division of spheres of influence on the peninsula. According to this treaty, the parts of Korea south of the 38th parallel were to be under U.S. jurisdiction, while the northern parts were to be under the jurisdiction of the Soviet Union.

See the article History of Korea on the history of Korea before the division.

The country’s history alternated between periods of democratic and authoritarian rule. The civilian governments in the country are numbered from the First Republic of Lee Seung-Man to the present Sixth Republic. The First Republic, democratic in the beginning, became increasingly autocratic until its end in 1960. The Second Republic was based on democratic principles, but was overthrown in less than a year, followed by a military government. The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics were nominally considered democratic, but are believed to have been an extension of military rule. With the establishment of the Sixth Republic, the governance of the country reverted to democracy.

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Since its founding, South Korea has come a long way in developing its education, economy, and culture. In the 1960s, the country was one of the poorest in the region, whereas now it is a developed industrial state. Since the 1990s, Korean popular music, television series, and movies have become increasingly popular in other parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia, a phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave.

Politics and polity

President

The president is the head of state in South Korea. The current president, Lee Myung-bak, who represents the Hannara Party, was elected in 2007.

Parliament

Unicameral National Assembly (299 seats).

243 deputies are elected under the majoritarian system with a relative majority in single-mandate districts; 46 deputies are elected by national party lists with a 5 percent threshold. The term of office is 4 years.

Parliamentary elections have been held since 1950. Until 1988 the elections took place under considerable restrictions of democratic freedoms by the South Korean presidents – 박정희 Park Chung-hee and, later, 전두환 Chon Doo-hwan. The first free parliamentary elections were held in 1988.

The composition of the parliament as a result of the 2008 elections.

Party Number of votes Percentage +/– Number of seats in single-mandate districts Number of seats on party lists Total seats +/–
Great Country Party 6,421,654 37.4 +1.6 131 22 153 +32
United Democratic Party 4,313,111 25.1 -20.3 66 15 81 -80
Park Geun-hae Coalition 2,258,726 13.1 +13.1 6 8 14 +14
Independents 1,391,392 8.1 +7.8 25 25 +22
Liberal Progressive Party 1,173,452 6.8 +6.8 14 4 18 +18
Democratic Labor Party 973,394 5.6 -7.4 2 3 5 –5
Socialist Party of Korea 651,980 3.8 +3.8 1 2 3 +3
Total 17,183,709 100.0 245 54 299
Source: Adam Carr

Geography and climate

The Republic of Korea occupies the southern part of the Korean Peninsula extending 1,100 kilometers from the mainland of Asia. The peninsula is bounded by the Yellow Sea to the west, the Sea of Japan to the east, the Strait of Korea to the south and the East China Sea. The total area of the country is 99,617.38 square kilometers.

The landscape is predominantly mountainous, with plains comprising only 30% of the land.

There are about 3,000 islands, mostly small and uninhabited. The largest island is Jeju-do.

The climate is monsoon, with hot and humid summers and relatively cold and dry winters. Annual precipitation ranges from 1370 millimeters in Seoul to 1470 millimeters in Pusan.

Administrative division

South Korea is divided into one special status city (taekpyolsi), six direct subordinate cities with province-wide status (kwangyeoksi), and nine provinces (to). These, in turn, are divided into a number of smaller entities including: city (si), county (kung), district (ku), large district (oop), township (moeung), district (ton), and neighborhood, village (ri).

( Note: Although “special status city,” “direct-administration city,” “province,” and “city” are official terms, all other terms are presented in a free translation that most closely reflects their meaning.)

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Economy

Advantages : world’s largest shipbuilder (45% market share). Stable budget surplus as Korean exports prevailed over Japanese due to high yen rate. Strong demand in China for Korean goods, especially cars.

Weaknesses : high debt and sensitivity to international capital movements. Increasing labor movement since 1997. The public sector burdens the economy. Strong competition from Japan.

South Korea’s economy as of 2006 is the 14th in the world in gross domestic product (in purchasing power parity) and the 10th in the world in nominal GDP. Gross national product per capita rose from $100 in 1963 to more than $20,000 in 2005.

The key areas of South Korea’s economy have changed drastically over the sixty-year history of the state. In the 1940s, the economy relied mainly on agriculture and light industry. During the next few decades, the emphasis shifted toward light industry and manufacturing of consumer goods, and in the 1970s and 1980s, toward heavy industry. In the 30 years after President Park Chung-hee launched the first Five-Year Plan in 1962, the economy grew at a very rapid pace and the structure of the economy changed dramatically.

The rapid economic growth of the 1980s slowed down by the end of the decade. By then, economic growth had slowed to 6.5 percent per year, and inflation increased as wages rose.

As in other highly developed countries, by the early 1990s the service sector had become dominant in the economy, and it now accounts for two-thirds of total GDP [3].

Population

Koreans make up an absolute majority of the country’s population (excluding the small (100,000) Chinese minority – especially those who came to the country not from China, Hong Kong and Macao, that is from Japan, Malaysia, India and the Philippines). There are many workers from China, the Philippines, and Malaysia. There are foreigners involved in business and education in large cities, especially in Seoul. A U.S. military contingent of 28,000 is present.

Culture

Transportation

Transportation in South Korea is the country’s system of transport communications, such as railroads, roads, air and sea routes.

The military and foreign relations

Russian-South Korean relations

Prior to September 1990, there were no formal diplomatic relations between the USSR and the ROK. The USSR recognized only the government of Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang, which officially claimed the role of all-Korean government (though, similar claims were made by the ROK government in Seoul). Contacts between the two countries began to develop only in the late 1980s, especially after the successful Olympics of 1988, held in Seoul.

On September 20, 2004 president of South Korea Roh Moo-hyun noted in his interview to newspaper “Izvestiya” that in 2004 the 120th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and Trade between Russia and Korea was celebrated and the 140th anniversary of resettlement of Koreans in Russia.

The president noted that Russia and the Republic of Korea signed an agreement on space cooperation and created a joint research center. The ROK has launched its artificial earth satellite using Russian technology and plans to launch a second satellite. Russia will support the Republic of Korea in training cosmonauts.

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According to the president, the voluntary resettlement of Koreans in the Russian Far East in 1864 took place during a very difficult period for Korea when Koreans lost their country. Even later, due to various political and economic changes in Russia, more than 400,000 Koreans migrated from the Far East to Central Asia.

Despite the hardships Koreans experienced at that time, Korea was a weak country and could not help them. Therefore, Korea considers itself “indebted” to “Russian Koreans” who, thanks to their hard work, achieved great success in Russia and, in particular, contributed to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the Republic of Korea in 1989.

On the eve of South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun’s visit to Russia, most of the comments made by Korean officials were devoted to organizing supplies of Russian energy resources to South Korea, primarily gas from the Kovykta field (Irkutsk Region). South Korea imports 70% of its energy from the Middle East and needs to diversify its supplies through Eastern Siberia and the Far East.

Gazprom, however, does not consider development of the Kovykta field a priority, preferring to invest in development of fields on the Sakhalin coastal shelf.

During South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun’s visit to Russia, they signed:

  • a memorandum on the joint development by Rosneft and Korea National Oil Corporation (Korea National Oil Corporation) of the Sakhalin-3 project (oil production on the Veninsky block of the Sakhalin shelf) and the West Kamchatka section of the Sea of Okhotsk shelf (investments in geological exploration in the amount of 250 million dollars are assumed);
  • Declaration on the need to intensify cooperation in energy transportation to the Korean Peninsula;
  • agreement on design, equipment supply and construction of a new oil refining and petrochemical complex in Nizhnekamsk (Tatarstan), involving Korean investments in the amount of 1.7 billion USD;
  • an agreement with Samsung for a ten-year $500 million project to modernize the Khabarovsk refinery;
  • credit agreements worth $50 million to finance supplies of South Korean goods and services to Russia.

The total amount of investment under the signed agreements exceeds $4 billion.

South Korea and nuclear weapons

South Korean authorities acknowledged in 2004 that the country had conducted experiments in the 1980s to obtain weapons-grade plutonium and experiments in 2000 to enrich uranium. Seoul, however, did not inform IAEA in a timely manner about these activities and thus blatantly violated the provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. On September 26, 2004, IAEA experts, having inspected the nuclear facilities of South Korea, made assumptions that the South Korean uranium enrichment program had a military component.

Religion

The main religions in South Korea are traditional Buddhism and relatively recent Christianity. Both were strongly influenced by Confucianism, which was the official ideology of the Joseon dynasty for 500 years, and shamanism, which was the main religion of the common people of Korea.

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According to statistics compiled by the South Korean government in 2003, about 46% of the country’s residents are not affiliated with any religion. Christians make up 27.3% of the population and Buddhists 25.3%.

Followers of other religions constitute about 2.5% of the religious population. These are mainly followers of the Wonbulgyo (Won-Buddhism) school, and the Cheonggyo school, which combines elements of Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Confucianism is practiced by a small number of believers, but its influence can still be seen in the Korean way of life.

There are also Orthodox Christians in Korea. Historically, the mission of the Orthodox Church began in the late nineteenth century. The first head of the mission, who made significant efforts to establish Orthodoxy here, was Archimandrite Chrysanth (Shchetkovsky). At present, the Orthodox Church in Korea is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Its head is Metropolitan Sotirius. The parishioners are mostly Orthodox people who have come to Korea for temporary work, as well as women from Russia who have married Koreans. Also Koreans who moved from Russia to their historical homeland and a certain number of native Koreans. [4]

Sports

South Korea has some traditional sports, but sports from Western countries are more developed. The most popular sports are mountaineering, soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming, track and field, and boxing.

Cybersports

South Korea is considered to be the ancestor of cybersports – computer video game competitions. The game Starcraft has become very popular in the country and has become a part of the national culture.

Notes

  1. ↑ Korea elected president
  2. ↑ 1 2 International Monetary Fund (April 2008)
  3. ↑ Country Studies: South Korea. The Economist (10 April 2003).
  4. ↑ Site of the Russian Orthodox Community in Korea.

Links

    in DMOZ
  • Official representative site – http://www.infokorea.ru/ (Russian)
  • Official representative site – http://www.korea.net/ (English and other languages)
  • Presidential Administration – http://www.cwd.go.kr/
  • National Assembly (Parliament) – http://www.assembly.go.kr/
  • Yonhap News Agency – http://english.yna.co.kr/
  • Joseon Ilbo Newspaper – http://english.chosun.com/
  • The Chungang Ilbo – http://joongangdaily.joins.com/
  • The Korea Times – http://times.hankooki.com/
  • Hangyore Sinmun newspaper – http://www.hani.co.kr/ (English, editorials) – http://vestnik.tripod.com/ (Russian)
  • World Radio KBC – http://world.kbs.co.kr/russian/index.htm (Russian)
  • “Korean Cultural Center in Ukraine” – http://koreancenter.org.ua/ (Russian)

Popular sites and forums:

  • “About Korea and Koreans” – http://www.korea.narod.ru/ (Russian)
  • “Korea: country and people” – http://www.okoree.narod.ru/ (Russian) – a Russian publishing house that publishes licensed Korean comics (manhwa)

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