Facts About South Korea

Facts about South Korea date back to the time of WWII after which the unified land was split into two parts and divided between the influence of the U.S. to the south and the U.S.S.R. to the north. The history of South Korea as a land and a home to the Korean people however dates back some 5,000 years, and there are plenty of things to do that illuminate the country's past. South Korea culture certainly does not begin in the middle of the twentieth century, but the north and the south have grown into two wholly different systems in terms of government and society, new customs, traditions, and in the case of South Korea, a thriving new economy. The main difference between North and South Korea is that South Korea is a democracy while the North is a socialist republic.

Korea was first established around the year 2333 B.C. when Joseon (often referred to as Gojoseon) was founded. The kingdom was founded by a central figure in the history of South Korea named Dangun who Korean legend claims was born of the gods. Under his rule the empire expanded throughout the entire Korean Peninsula and up into what is present day Manchuria. Many conflicts with the Han Dynasty of China led to the ultimate undoing of his rule and the ushering in of the period of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. They consisted of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla. The three kingdoms united, but underwent constant Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century. In the coming centuries, the history of South Korea would largely be shaped by the numerous invasions and clashes of culture and ideology with neighboring Japan and China. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, the Japanese invaded Korea in an effort to attack the greater Asian mainland but was repelled by the Korean along with the assistance of the Chinese during the time of the Ming Dynasty. The Joseon Dynasty in Korea endured and attempted to stay as distant as possible from the influence of western imperialism and control by Japan and China. Two world wars and increasing regional conflict saw an increased reliance on China and Korea ultimately stepped up efforts to build and expand their own economy which now is one of the world’s largest in terms of exports, including automobiles, electronics, and robotics.

South Korea culture may have forever been altered if the Cairo Declaration, which was signed in 1943 claiming that the Korean mainland would be unified, had been followed. Increased cold war tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union ultimately led to the establishment of two separate countries and governments. The Soviets backed Kim Il-sung in the North while the U.S. and its allies endorsed Syngman Rhee who was installed as president by democratic election. This is when the facts about South Korea become troubling and gruesome. On June 25, 1950 the army of the north invaded the south forever changing the political, social, and cultural landscape of the entire peninsula and surrounding region. Over 4 million soldiers and civilians were killed in the Korean War before a truce stopped the bloodshed in 1953.

Another of the most prevalent facts about South Korea concerns the student uprising of 1960 which saw throngs of students take to the streets to protest the autocratic regime of Rhee. Ultimately, the two countries, North and South Korea, resumed trade talks and were both admitted into the United Nations in the early 1990s.

South Korea culture now thrives with a booming export economy, a vibrant travel services industry, and one of the most advanced IT communities in the world. It has seven international airports, lively cities such as Seoul and Busan, and is a major exporter of goods to the Unites States and Europe.

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