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South Korea


Korea was an independent kingdom for much of the past millennium. Following its victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan occupied Korea; five years later it formally annexed the entire peninsula. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Yo'ng-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy.

In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President KIM Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Jong Il"South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (Korean: , IPA: [], listen (helpinfo)), is an East Asian state on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was a single country called Korea until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China, and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital and largest city, Seoul, the second largest metropolitan area in the world. Since its founding in 1948, the country has struggled with the aftermath of 35 years of Japanese annexation, the Korean War, and decades of military rule, seeing five major constitutional changes. Pro-democracy demonstrations during the 1980's led to free elections in 1987. South Korea is now a multi-party democracy. The South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the 1950's and is now the 10th largest (nominal value) economy in the world.

South Korea is also one of the world's most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries. It has the second highest broadband Internet connections per capita among OECD countries[2] and is a global leader in electronics, digital displays, shipbuilding and mobile phones. South Korea's entertainment industry has grown explosively since the 1990s, producing Asia-wide successes in music, television, and film in a phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the "Korean wave." However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine and ancestor worship.

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Quick Facts

Population: 48,860,500
Capital: Seoul
Per-capita GDP: $ 32100
Size: 99,720 km2
Time Zone: (GMT + 09:00 hours) Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo

US State Department

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Country information is adapted from public domain resources including the CIA World Fact Book and
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