|Republic of Korea|
|Motto: Benefit all mankind (홍익인간)
Aegukga (애국가) The Patriotic Song
(and largest city)
|Demonym||South Korean, Korean|
|-||Prime Minister||Kim Hwang-sik|
|-||National Foundation Day||October 3, 2333 BCE|
|-||Independence declared||March 1, 1919|
|-||Provisional Government||April 13, 1919|
|-||Liberation||August 15, 1945|
|-||Constitution||July 17, 1948|
|-||Government proclaimed||August 15, 1948|
|-||Total||100,210 km2 (108th)
38,691 sq mi
|-||2010 estimate||48,875,000 (24th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|-||Total||$1,540.740 billion (12th)|
|-||Per capita||$31,404 (26th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|-||Total||$1,056.262 billion (14th)|
|-||Per capita||$21,529 (34rd)|
|HDI (2010)||0.877 (very high) (12th)|
|Currency||South Korean won (₩) (
|Time zone||Korea Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+9)|
|Date formats||yyyy년 mm월 dd일
|Drives on the||right|
|1||Mobile phone system CDMA, WCDMA, HSDPA and WiBro|
|2||Domestic power supply 220V/60 Hz, CEE 7/7 sockets|
South Korea (), officially the Republic of Korea (ROK, Korean: 대한민국, ) and currently the Sixth Republic of South Korea, is a country in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. Its capital is Seoul, which is also its largest city. South Korea lies in a temperate climate region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square kilometers and has a population of 50 million.
Archaeological findings show that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the Lower Paleolithic period. Korean history begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by the legendary Dan-gun. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea under Silla 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo Dynasty and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Korea was annexed by Japan. After liberation and occupation by Soviet and U.S. forces at the end of World War II, the nation was divided into North and South Korea. The latter was established in 1948 as a democracy, though political turmoil, and periods of military rule and martial law, were to characterize much of the period until the foundation of the Sixth Republic in 1987.
After the invasion of South Korea by forces from the North on 25 June 1950, the resulting war between the two Koreas ended with an Armistice Agreement, but the border between the two nations is currently the most heavily fortified in the world. After the war, the South Korean economy grew significantly and the country was eventually transformed into its present-day status as a major economy, a full democracy, and a regional power in East Asia.
South Korea is a presidential republic consisting of sixteen administrative divisions and is a developed country with a very high standard of living. It is Asia's fourth largest economy and the world's 15th (nominal) or 12th (purchasing power parity) largest economy. The economy is export-driven, with production focusing on electronics, automobiles, ships, machinery, petrochemicals and robotics. South Korea is a member of the United Nations, WTO, OECD and G-20 major economies. It is also a founding member of APEC and the East Asia Summit.
Korean history begins with the founding of Joseon (often known as "Gojoseon" to prevent confusion with another dynasty founded in the 14th century; the prefix Go- means 'old' or 'earlier') in 2333 BC by Dangun, according to Korean foundation mythology. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled northern Korean Peninsula and some parts of Manchuria. After many conflicts with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.
In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as Three Kingdoms of Korea. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North South States Period, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture thrived. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla's neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.
The peninsula was united by Emperor Taejo of Goryeo in 936. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world's oldest movable metal type printing press. The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. After nearly 30 years of war, Goryeo continued to rule Korea, though as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the Mongolian Empire collapsed, severe political strife followed and the Goryeo Dynasty was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.
King Taejo declared the new name of Korea as "Joseon" in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of Hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country.
Between 1592 and 1598, the Japanese invaded Korea. Toyotomi Hideyoshi led the forces and tried to invade the Asian continent through Korea, but was eventually repelled by the Righteous army and assistance from Ming Dynasty China. This war also saw the rise of Admiral Yi Sun-sin and his renowned "turtle ship". In the 1620s and 1630s, Joseon suffered from invasions by the Manchu who eventually conquered all of China.
However, the latter years of the Joseon Dynasty were marked by a dependence on China for external affairs and isolation from the outside world. During the 19th century, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the name the "Hermit Kingdom". The Joseon Dynasty tried to protect itself against Western imperialism, but was eventually forced to open trade. After the Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Korea came under Japanese colonial rule (1910–1945). At the end of World War II, the Japanese surrendered to Soviet and U.S. forces who occupied the northern and southern halves of Korea, respectively.
Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism between the Soviet Union and the United States eventually led to the establishment of separate governments, each with its own ideology, leading to Korea's division into two political entities in 1948: North Korea and South Korea. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung gained power through Soviet support, and in the South, an exiled and right-wing Korean political leader, Syngman Rhee, was installed as president.
On 25 June 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, sparking the Korean War, the Cold War's first major conflict. At the time, the Soviet Union had boycotted the United Nations (UN), thus forfeiting their veto rights. This allowed the UN to intervene in a civil war when it became apparent that the superior North Korean forces would unify the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the later participation of millions of Chinese troops. After huge advances on both sides, and massive losses among Korean civilians in both the north and the south, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, resulting in the two countries remaining technically at war. At least 2.5 million people died during the Korean War.
In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic President Syngman Rhee. A period of political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee's military coup (the "5–16 coup d'état") against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park was heavily criticised as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.
The years after Park's assassination were marked again by political turmoil, as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1979 there was Coup d'état of December Twelfth by General Chun Doo-hwan. After the Coup d'état, Chun Doo-hwan planned to rise to power with several measures. On May 17, Chun Doo-hwan forced the Cabinet to expand martial law to the whole nation, which had previously not applied to Jeju-do. The expanded martial law closed universities, banned political activities and further curtailed the press. Chun assumed the presidency by the event of May 17, triggering nationwide protests demanding democracy, in particular in the city of Gwangju, where Chun sent special forces to violently suppress the Gwangju Democratization Movement.
Chun subsequently created the National Defense Emergency Policy Committee and took the presidency according to his political plan. Chun and his government held Korea under a despotic rule until 1987, when a Seoul National University student was tortured to death. On 10 June, the Catholic Priests Association for Justice revealed the incident, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. Eventually, Chun's party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th Declaration, which included the direct election of the president. Roh went on to win the election by a narrow margin against the two main opposition leaders, Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Young-Sam.
In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. It became a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996. It was adversely affected by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. However, the country was able to recover and continue its economic growth, albeit at a slower pace.
In June 2000, as part of president Kim Dae-Jung's "Sunshine Policy" of engagement, a North–South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Later that year, Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize "for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular."
In 2002, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup, however South Korean and Japanese relations later soured due to conflicting claims of sovereignty over the Liancourt Rocks (referred to as Dokdo in Korea, and Takeshima in Japan), in what became known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute.
Like many democracies, South Korea's government is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy.
The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. This document has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948 at independence. However, it has retained many broad characteristics and with the exception of the short-lived Second Republic of South Korea, the country has always had a presidential system with an independent chief executive. The first direct election was also held in 1948. Although South Korea experienced a series of military dictatorships since the 1960s up until the 1980s, it has since developed into a successful liberal democracy. Today, the CIA World Factbook describes South Korea's democracy as a "fully functioning modern democracy".