Quick Info

Name:
South Korea
Population:
51.4 million
Capital:
Seoul
Language:
Korean
Currency:
South Korean Won (KRW)
Time zone:
KST (UTC +9)

More about South Korea

Country Information

South Korea is a sovereign state within East Asia. It shares a highly fortified border and demilitarized zone to the north with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), which pretty much depicts the contentious relationship shared by both Koreas. Threats of war between the two entities have resulted in outside alliances on both sides that serve to maintain separation and make the possibility of reconciliation unlikely at this time. South Korea is a country that values its ancient traditions and history but is also a burgeoning tech-savvy industrialized nation, which currently has Asia’s third-largest economy. It is governed by a fairly liberal, albeit flawed democratic government, with a constitution that guarantees substantial participation, freedoms and benefits, including universal healthcare to its people. For many, life in South Korea is good because its workforce has a high level of education and skill, which helps it maintain a leadership position in the region. Education in South Korea is a very serious business. It is extremely competitive and students are pushed to the highest levels of academic excellence, which may also contribute to a high level of stress among students 10-19 years of age who are focused on admissions to prestigious universities.

Climate

Temperatures can vary depending on whether you are in the mountainous or coastal areas of South Korea and they have all four distinct seasons throughout the year. You can expect winters that can be frigid, and very warm summers, which are also host to the rainy season known as Jangma.

Culture

Korean culture is based on ancient traditions with a strong focus on the family unit. Many aspects of daily life were greatly influenced by Japan and China and the country has moved forward in a way that has allowed it to move from a once underdeveloped country to one with a strong economy. Patriarchy is still alive and well, with specific gender roles and educational opportunities still providing men with preferential treatment, even though the Constitution guarantees equality for both men and women. Marriage is very much expected and although divorce is frowned upon, it is becoming more common. Ancient customs coupled with the integration of new standards and technology are reshaping life in this country. Freedom of religion is enjoyed in South Korea, with major practices of Buddhism and Christianity. Korean Confucianism is not an organized religion, as much as it is a philosophical practice that sets the moral tone for most of the country. More than half of the country recognizes it as a great influence, even though they may not claim any religious affiliation.

Gastronomy

Food is an important component of the culture of South Korea. Meals are generally rice-based and include side elements of fish, meat or vegetables. Noodles and tofu are often components of a typical plate. One of the typical dishes one might find at a local restaurant or market is Kimchi. It is the national dish and is made from fermented vegetables, often cabbage and usually spicy. Another dish you might want to try is Bulgogi, it is a Korean specialty made with marinated beef that is grilled to perfection. The cuisine of the country is emerging as a favorite amongst other countries and it is pretty easy to find Korean BBQ just about everywhere you go.