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Officially known as the Republic of Korea, South Korea is one of the most advanced countries in the world. It is located in East Asia on the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is bound by North Korea to the north, the Yellow Sea to the west as well as the Cheju and Korea Straits to the south. It came into being in the year 1948 when Korea was partitioned, resulting into the creation of two new states. These two countries have been technically at war for more than fifty years now as when the country was divided, no peace agreement was put in place, and what exists today is just an armistice to put a halt on the fighting.

The total area is 38,462.49 square miles. Seoul, the capital of South Korea is one of the busiest places in the world, with lots of business activity and trade. Samsung and Hyundai, some of the most distinguished brands in the world are based there. Let us check out some more interesting facts about South Korea.

History
  • In Korean mythology there is a story about how the Korean nation was born. The story is that a god named Hwanung came from heaven and transformed a bear into a woman. He married her and she gave birth to a son, Tangun, the founder of Korea. Tangun created the first capital of the Korean nation in 2333 B.C and called it Joseon - 'Land of the Morning Calm'.
  • Prehistoric remains found throughout Korea indicate that early in the history of the Korean Peninsula the inhabitants used sophisticated technologies. These people believed that all objects had spirits (also called animism). They also believed that some people had the power to communicate with these spirits, which is also known as shamanism. Farming at this time included cultivating rice. This was around 3,500 years ago at the start of the Bronze Age. Many farm tools have been found from this period.
  • In 1910, Korea became a Japanese colony. Korea was under Japanese rule for 35 years.
  • North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950 with goal of unifying Korea under communist rule, The United Nations intervened in the war and there was a ceasefire in 1953. The border between South and North Korea remains one of the heaviest militarized zones in the world. Efforts are going on for their peaceful reunification.
Society
  • The Korean people call themselves Hangukin or Hanguk saram. It is widely believed that the Korean people have descended from Altaic groups, whose origins have been traced to Southern Siberia.
  • The Korean society is one of the most homogenous in the world, with most of the population sharing the same culture and traditions.
  • Korean people lay a lot of emphasis on family values and interpersonal relationships, primarily because of the influence of Confucianism. The eldest member in the house is considered the wisest, and therefore makes most of the important decisions.
  • Korean is the official language of North Korea and South Korea. A large number of Chinese cognates exist in the Korean language. Around 1,300 Chinese characters are used in modern Korean. The writing system is known as Hangul in South Korea. It is believed that Korean was created to replace Chinese which was difficult to use.
Religion
  • Around 50% of people in South Korea are atheists. The other 50% comprises Buddhists and Christians.
  • The original religion is Korean Shamanism, but it is to be noted that Korean Confucianism was the official religion during the time of Joseon Dynasty.
Fun Facts
  • When the first night of the new year comes everybody hides their shoes. This is because there is a belief that a ghost will come down and try on everyone's shoes. If the ghost finds a pair it likes it will take it. It is thought that the owner of the shoes will then have bad luck for the whole year.
  • Korean taxis are color coded and each color is an indicator of the type of services you can avail. For example, gray and white taxis offer basic comfort, whereas a black colored cab is a luxurious car and a veteran driver. The Korean drivers are notorious for watching TV in the cab while driving passengers around.
  • South Korea boasts of some of the biggest shopping malls in the world, in fact, some of the malls are bigger than a European town.
  • This one is for the connoisseurs of alcohol - you can buy a pint of beer and instead of heading home, you can start gulping it at any place you feel you are comfortable in! Yes! Public drinking is permissible as per South Korean lawns, so, don't be surprised if you find someone drinking in the park, don't sneer, probably nobody would understand the reason for your contempt!
  • As like most of the people of the world, South Koreans too have their set of superstitions, and one of its manifestations is the absence of 4th floor in most of the South Korean buildings.
  • Heard about Snuppy? Yes, the first cloned dog in the world was "manufactured" at the Seoul National University.
We hope that this article would have helped you with some facets of South Korean life and culture. Every country has something interesting about it. Unfortunately due to the political upheavals, we get to hear or watch only the negative side of things. So, it is important that we try to delve a bit more than what meets the eye. If you or any of your friends knows something interesting about South Korea that you would like to share with our readers, then you can use the comments section at the bottom of this page. We would sincerely appreciate that.