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Korea, South

World  (tags: South Korea, people, places, travel )

- 1519 days ago -
South Korea is an economic powerhouse and an ally of the United States. Every day you probably use products from South Korea without even realizing it; from cell phones designed by Samsung to cars manufactured by Hyundai.

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Kit B (276)
Thursday April 24, 2014, 4:22 pm
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South Korea is an economic powerhouse and an ally of the United States. Every day you probably use products from South Korea without even realizing it; from cell phones designed by Samsung to cars manufactured by Hyundai. The land of South Korea is a mix of old and new. In Seoul, the nation's capital of almost ten million residents the historic pagoda style architecture of the Sungnyemun gateway is surrounded by modern day skyscrapers. Here are some lesser known facts as well.

---5 Facts You Might Not Know

1) The demilitarized zone separating North Korea from South Korea, also referred to as the 38th Parallel is the most heavily armed strip of land in the world. South Korea is on constant alert to provocations from their neighbors to the north.

2) South Korea is a member of the G-20 economic group and ranks 14th in the world by size of economy. The economy is heavily export driven with several multinational technology companies residing in South Korea that provide many of the modern conveniences in use today. Due to the nature of South Korea's tech heavy export industry and high secondary education levels unemployment remains low, even in the depths of the recent recession it topped out at only 3,6% in 2009.

3) In 2007 South Korea was the first country to clone a dog, named Snuppy from the genetic material of two endangered female wolves. Genetics and cloning research are big parts of the South Korean science industry.

4) South Korea is home to over 28000 members of the United States armed forces, primarily the Eighth United States Army. They are there under UN command in case of aggression from North Korea and serve as a deterrent to rising hostilities along the demilitarized zone.

5) South Korea is currently acknowledged to have the highest penetration of high speed internet access. In addition the second and third largest cellular phone manufacturers, Samsung and LG respectively, are South Korean companies.

Culture Name: South Korean

Alternative Names: Republic of Korea; Corean, Han'guk, Taehan, Taehanmin'guk

Koryo (9181392) and Choson (13921910) were the last two Korean dynasties. Korean immigrants and their descendants in Russia, China, and Japan use the names of those dynasties as a reference for their ethnicity. Despite the continued use of Choson as a self-name in North Korea, the Japanese convention of referring to the Korean nation by that name (pronounced Chosen in Japanese) can be offensive to South Koreans because of its evocation of Japanese colonization of the nation (19101945).

Location and Geography.
South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula, which protrudes about 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) southward from the Eurasian landmass between Soviet Siberia in the northeast and Chinese Manchuria to the north. About three thousand islands belong to Korea, among which the Province of Cheju Island is the largest. The total area of the peninsula, including the islands, is about 85,000 square miles (222,000 square kilometers), of which about 45 percent or about 38,000 square miles (99,000 square kilometers) constitutes the territory of South Korea.

Emergence of the Nation. The Korean peninsula has been inhabited for more than half a million years, and a Neolithic culture emerged around 6,000 B.C.E. The legendary beginning date of the Korean people is said to be 2333 B.C.E. , when Tan'gun established the kingdom of Choson ("Morning Freshness," often translated as the "Land of Morning Calm") around today's P'yongyang. To distinguish it from the later Choson Dynasty, it is now referred to as Ko ("Old") Choson.

In the legend, Tan'gun was born of a divine father, Hwan-ung, a son of the heavenly king, and a woman who had been transformed from a bear. The bear and a tiger had pleaded with Hwan-ung to transform them into human beings. Only the bear achieved the transformation by following Hwanung's instructions, which included a hundred-day seclusion to avoid sunlight and the ingestion of a bunch of mugwort ( ssuk ) and twenty pieces of garlic. This bear turned woman then married Hwan-ung, and their offspring was Tan'gun. A recent interpretation of the bear woman is that she came from a bear totem tribe.

The Old Choson period is divided into the Tan'gun, Kija, and Wiman periods. Shortly after the fall of Wiman Choson in 108 B.C.E. and the establishment of Chinese military control in the north, the Three Kingdoms (Silla, Koguryo, and Paekche) period began. In 668, Silla unified the Three Kingdoms. Silla's decline in the late ninth century brought about the rise of Later Paekche and Later Koguryo. Wang Kon, who established the Koryo Dynasty, eventually reunified the nation. A series of Mongol invasions that began in 1231 devastated the country in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. General Yi Song-gye overthrew Koryo and established the Choson Dynasty in 1392. Despite invasions by Japan and Manchu (Qing) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, respectively, Choson continued for more than five centuries until 1910, when Japan colonized the nation for three and a half decades.

Food in Daily Life.
The rapid changes in lifestyles that have accompanied economic development since the 1960s have changed the traditional pattern of eating rice at each meal. Some urbanites may eat toast, eggs, and milk for breakfast, using a fork and knife. Nonetheless, for many people a bowl of steamed white rice, a soybean-paste vegetable soup, and a dish of kimch'I may still constitute the basic everyday meal, to which steamed or seasoned vegetables, fish, meats, and other foods may be added as side dishes ( panch'an ). Many people eat at a low table while sitting on the ondol floor, using a spoon and chopsticks.

Kimch'I is the national dish. It is a pungent, often hot, mixture of fermented and/or pickled vegetables. Almost any vegetable can be fermented to make kimch'I, but Chinese cabbage and daikon radishes are the most commonly used. As part of the national diet for centuries, it has many variations depending on the region, season, occasion, and personal taste of the cook. Kimch'I has long been the test of a housewife's culinary skills and a family tradition. A South Korean consumes an average of forty pounds (eighteen kilograms) of kimch'I a year. Many companies produce kimch'I for both domestic consumption and export.

Meat dishes such as pulgogi (barbecued meat) and kalbi (short ribs) are popular among both Koreans and foreigners. They are traditionally charcoal-roasted after the meat has been marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, minced garlic, and other spices. The foods available at restaurants range from sophisticated Western cuisine, to various ethnic specialty foods, to both indigenous and foreign fast foods. There are no food taboos, although Buddhist monks may practice vegetarianism and observe other food taboos.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
A variety of ttok (rice cake), other traditional confectionery, and fresh fruits are served to celebrate birthdays, marriages, and the hwan'gap (the sixtieth birthday). The offerings at ch'arye , memorial services for one's ancestors performed on special holidays, include rice wine, steamed white rice, soup, barbecued meats, and fresh fruits. After ritual offerings

Basic Economy.
South Korea transformed its traditional agrarian subsistence economy to a primarily industrialized one in little more than a generation. In 1962, when the First Five-Year Economic Development Plan was launched, per capita gross national product was $87 (U.S.), in contrast with $10,543 (U.S.) in 1996. However, rapid increases in short-term debt precipitated by overinvestments by chaebols (family-owned and -managed conglomerates) and insufficient foreign exchange reserves caused the financial crisis of 1997, which necessitated emergency financial aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 1997. After a year of rising unemployment, negative economic growth, and reforms of the financial sector in 1998, the economy began to recover. For gross domestic product (GDP) of $406.7 billion (U.S.), the country ranked thirteenth and for per capita GDP it ranked thirtieth among the world's nations in 1999.

Koreans lived under a dynastic system until 1910. After liberation from Japanese colonization in 1945, the southern half of the peninsula was occupied by the United States and the northern half by the Soviet military until 1948, when two Koreas emerged. Since then, South Korea has traveled a rocky road in its political development from autocratic governments to a more democratic state, amending its constitution nine times in the wake of tumultuous political events such as the Korean War, the April Revolution of 1960, the 1961 and 1979 military coups, the 1980 Kwangju uprising, and the 1987 democracy movement. The government has maintained a presidential system except in 19601961, when a parliamentary system was in place. Government power is shared by three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. The Constitutional Court and the National Election Commission also perform governing functions.

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Justin Vale (13)
Thursday April 24, 2014, 6:20 pm
beautiful country isn't it. (sarcasm coming) i especially like the fact that these nuts believe that the more a dog suffers before slaughter, the better the meat will taste. and they eat millions per year.
put that in your bonnet.

Mary T (358)
Thursday April 24, 2014, 9:29 pm
thank you Kit, enjoyed the video; would love to go back to Korea, its been almost 40 years since I moved back to the states

Walter F (129)
Thursday April 24, 2014, 11:10 pm
Thanks for posting an interesting article Kit.I could make some remarks about their unpleasant culinary habits but this is not the place for it.

Sherri G (128)
Thursday April 24, 2014, 11:26 pm
Thank You Kit for the information on South Korea Noted.

Shirley S (187)
Friday April 25, 2014, 12:13 am
Interesting read.Thanks Kit.

Julia R (297)
Friday April 25, 2014, 3:15 am
Thanks kit, I found this article very interesting about the history of South Korea and its economy as well as its political system and its 3 major components of govt. being like the U.S. Hopefully in light of much progress it seems to have made in education and in greater economic wealth for the individual, some of these old barbaric and cruel traditions such as eating dogs will become extinct as the society becomes more progressive in its attitudes and beliefs!

Past Member (0)
Friday April 25, 2014, 4:25 am
I would have this was fairly obvious. The amazing thing is they have never really been question as a cheap import.

Past Member (0)
Friday April 25, 2014, 6:44 am
Not a country i'll ever visit but appreciate the info--thx Kit

Vallee R (280)
Friday April 25, 2014, 10:57 am
Always love these trips Kit - thanks. A lot I did not know but cloning a dog?

Pat B (356)
Friday April 25, 2014, 11:37 am
Enjoyed reading about this country, the landscape is beautiful. I would go walking, taking the trolley, seeing the museums, visiting the shrines, the parks and bird houses. Thank you, Kit for our trip today.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Friday April 25, 2014, 12:06 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday April 25, 2014, 2:35 pm
Thanks, Kit. I was only 18 when I joined my then-husband in S. Korea, where he was stationed on an "unaccompanied tour." We'd just gotten married, and he found that there were many "dependent" wives who joined their husbands, but had to live "on the economy." Quite an eye-opening experience for me back in the early 70's...I had no idea of the history of the country then. It was very poor when I was there; if you worked in a shoe factory, you were considered to have a good job. And, yes, they did serve dog meat. You had to know the difference between pulgogi and kulgogi when ordering in a restaurant. We just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Barbara K (60)
Friday April 25, 2014, 3:26 pm
Thanks, my friend. It is truly a beautiful country, had no idea it was so beautiful.

marie C (163)
Friday April 25, 2014, 5:06 pm
Have never fancied visiting Korea until now
Thanks Kit very interesting

Mary Donnelly (47)
Friday April 25, 2014, 6:34 pm
Thanks Kit--another great post.

Colleen L (3)
Friday April 25, 2014, 10:09 pm
Very interesting and a very beautiful journey. Thanks Kit

. (0)
Saturday April 26, 2014, 8:36 am
The recession of the 90s was brought about by IMF and WCB tactics to break the monopolistic hold the five tigers of the area had. They wouldn't play ball with the global controllers and had to be taught a lesson.

Birgit W (160)
Saturday April 26, 2014, 1:35 pm
Thanks for sharing Kit.

. (0)
Saturday April 26, 2014, 6:20 pm
Thanks for the interesting info.

Craig Pittman (52)
Tuesday April 29, 2014, 4:31 am
Thanks for yet another informative and fascinating journey Kit.

Lynn C (94)
Friday May 2, 2014, 4:03 pm
Thank you Kit
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