South Korea is an East Asian sovereign state that occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.
South Koreans enjoy a unique urban lifestyle; half of them live in high-rises centered in the Seoul Capital Area, which has 25 million people and is the world’s sixth leading global metropolis, with the fourth biggest economy and the seventh most sustainable city.
Korean pottery goes back to 8000 BC, with three kingdoms thriving in the first century BC. Goguryeo, also known as Kory, was a strong empire and one of East Asia’s major powers, controlling Northeast China, portions of Russia and Inner Mongolia, and more than two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since their unification into Later Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea has experienced almost a millennium of relative peace under long-lasting dynasties, with inventions such as Hangul, a unique alphabet established by Sejong the Great in 1446 that allows anybody to quickly learn to read and write. Its rich and dynamic culture has left 17 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the world’s third biggest, as well as 12 World Heritage Sites. Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan in 1910 owing to its strategic and central position, and after its capitulation in 1945, it was split into North and South Korea. The Korean War (1950–53) was precipitated by a North Korean invasion. Peace has largely been maintained since then, with the two agreeing to work peacefully toward reunification and the South cementing peace as a regional power with the world’s tenth biggest defense expenditure.
South Korea’s tiger economy rose at an annual average of 10% for more than 30 years during the Miracle on the Han River, quickly converting it into the world’s 9th biggest high-income economy by 1995. Its success may be attributed to a long history of openness and emphasis on innovation. Today, it is the world’s fifth biggest exporter and seventh largest importer, with the greatest budget surplus in the G20 and the highest credit rating of any East Asian nation. It has free trade agreements with 75% of the world’s economies and is the only G20 country that trades freely with China, the US, and the EU all at the same time. It became a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage in 1987, and it is now Asia’s most advanced democracy, with high government transparency, universal healthcare, and religious freedom. High civil freedoms resulted in the development of a worldwide prominent pop culture, such as K-pop and K-drama, a phenomenon known as the Korean Wave, which is renowned for its unique stylish and trendy style. South Korea, the home of the UN Green Climate Fund and the GGGI, is a pioneer in low-carbon, green development, and is dedicated to assisting poor nations as a key DAC and Paris Club donor. It is the OECD’s most hospitable nation in terms of visa-free entrance for foreigners, and it ranks well in terms of peaceful tolerance and minority inclusion.
According to the Human Development Index, South Korea is the most developed nation in East Asia. It boasts the world’s ninth highest median family income, the highest in Asia, and its singles make more than the whole G7 group. It has the world’s third greatest health adjusted life expectancy and fourth most efficient healthcare system, and scores well in personal safety, education, job stability, ease of doing business, and healthcare quality. It leads the OECD in scientific and engineering graduates and is rated third in the Youth Wellbeing Index. South Korea was voted the world’s most inventive nation in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in corporate R&D intensity and patents filed per GDP. It is the home of Samsung, the world’s top smartphone and TV manufacturer, LG, and Hyundai-Kia. It boasts the quickest Internet speed and the greatest smartphone ownership rate in the world, and it ranks #1 in ICT Development, e-Government, and 4G LTE coverage. With 97 percent of smartphones already having Internet connection, it became the world’s first nation to completely convert to high-speed Internet and launch the world’s first mobile TV broadcast in 2005.
South Korea | Introduction
Korea, often known as the “Land of the Morning Calm,” has historically acted as a cultural bridge between China and Japan. South Korea has just emerged from the shadows of its tumultuous history to firmly establish itself as one of the world’s main economic powers. Since the turn of the century, South Korean culture has grown in popularity across East Asia, resulting in the country being a popular tourist destination.
South Korea had 11.1 million international visitors in 2012, up from 8.5 million in 2010, making it the world’s 20th most visited country. South Korea had more than 12 million visitors in 2013, with 6 million of them coming from China alone, because to Hallyu. The South Korean government has set a goal of luring 20 million international visitors per year by 2017 due to increasing tourism possibilities, particularly from outside Asia. According to a research by the Hyundai Research Institute, Hallyu’s beneficial impacts on the nation’s entertainment sector are not confined to the cultural industry. The Korean Wave, according to the Hyundai Research Institute, has a direct effect on attracting direct foreign investment back into the nation via product demand and the tourist sector. China was the most welcoming Asian country, spending 1.4 billion in South Korea, the majority of which went into the service sector, a sevenfold increase from 2001. According to economist Han Sang-Wan, a 1% rise in Korean cultural content exports to a nation boosts consumer goods exports by 0.083 percent, while a 1% increase in Korean pop content exports to a country boosts tourism by 0.019 percent.
The National Statistical Office projected South Korea’s population to be approximately 50.8 million in April 2016, with the working-age population and total fertility rate continuing to decrease. The nation is known for its high population density, which in 2015 was estimated to be 505 people per square kilometer, more than ten times the world average. Because of significant migration from the countryside during the country’s fast economic growth in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, the majority of South Koreans now reside in cities. Seoul, the country’s capital, is also the country’s biggest metropolis and most important industrial hub. Seoul has a population of ten million people according to the 2005 census. The Seoul National Capital Region is the world’s second biggest metropolitan area, with a population of 24.5 million people (almost half of South Korea’s total population). Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.5 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million), and Ulsan (1.4 million) are the other significant cities (1.1 million).
International migration has also influenced the demographic. Approximately four million individuals from North Korea crossed the border into South Korea after World War II and the partition of the Korean Peninsula. Emigration, particularly to the United States and Canada, reversed this net entrance trend during the following 40 years. South Korea’s overall population was 21.5 million in 1955, and by 2010, it had more than quadrupled to 50 million.
With more than 99 percent of the population being of Korean ethnicity, South Korea is one of the world’s most ethnically homogenous societies.
The number of foreign nationals has been steadily increasing. In 2009, there were 1,106,884 foreign residents in South Korea, accounting for 2.7 percent of the population; however, more than half of them are ethnic Koreans with dual citizenship. For example, foreign nationals from China (PRC) account for 56.5 percent of the total population, yet about 70% of Chinese residents in Korea are Joseonjok (in Korean), PRC citizens of Korean ancestry. According to the Korea National Statistical Office, there are 28,500 US military troops serving in South Korea, the majority of whom are on a one-year unaccompanied tour (but about 10% serve extended deployments accompanied by family). In addition, about 43,000 English instructors from English-speaking nations are stationed in Korea on a temporary basis. Since 2010, approximately 30,000 foreign-born residents have obtained South Korean citizenship, making it one of the fastest-growing countries in terms of foreign-born population.
In 2009, South Korea’s birthrate was the lowest in the world. If current trends continue, the country’s population would drop by 13% to 42.3 million by 2050. The yearly birthrate in South Korea is about 9 per 1000 inhabitants. However, in 2010, the birthrate rose by 5.7 percent, and Korea no longer boasts the lowest birthrate in the world. According to a Chosun Ilbo study from 2011, South Korea’s overall fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is greater than Taiwan’s (1.15) and Japan’s (1.15). (1.21). In 2008, the average life expectancy was 79.10 years (34th in the world), but by 2015, it had risen to approximately 81 years. In the OECD countries, South Korea has the greatest drop in working-age population. The National Statistical Office projected in 2015 that the country’s population will peak in 2030.
In 2005, slightly under half of South Koreans said they did not have a religious preference. The majority of the remainder are Buddhists or Christians. According to the 2007 census, 29.2% of the population was Christian (18.3% Protestants, 10.9 percent Roman Catholics), while 22.8 percent was Buddhist. Islam and other new religious groups such as Jeungsanism, Cheondoism, and Wonbuddhism are examples of other faiths. Korean shamanism was the first religion to be practiced. The constitution now guarantees religious freedom, and there is no official religion. However, there is a contradiction with the long-standing necessity of obligatory military duty, which leads to the incarceration of conscientious objectors, leading to the detention of many Jehovah’s Witnesses in South Korea for rejecting on the same reasons. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has concluded that South Korea’s government employs arbitrary imprisonment of conscientious objectors and that the country should take measures to address the problem.
Christianity is the most popular religion in South Korea, with more than half of the country’s religious followers. In today’s South Korea, there are about 13.7 million Christians; approximately 63 percent of Korean Christians attend Protestant churches, while 37 percent attend Roman Catholic churches. Since the 1990s, the number of Protestant Christians has dropped somewhat, whereas the number of Roman Catholics has risen dramatically since the 1980s. The Presbyterian Church of South Korea is the largest Christian denomination in the country. Around nine million individuals are members of one of the 100 Presbyterian churches; the HapDong Presbyterian Church, TongHap Presbyterian Church, and Koshin Presbyterian Church are among the largest denominations. See Presbyterianism in South Korea for additional information. After the United States, South Korea is the second-largest missionary-sending country.
In the year 372, Buddhism was introduced to Korea. According to the 2005 national census, there are approximately 10.7 million Buddhists in South Korea. About 90% of Korean Buddhists now are members of the Jogye Order. Buddhist items make up the majority of South Korea’s National Treasures. Since the Three Kingdoms Period, when Goguryeo accepted Buddhism as the official religion in 372, it has been the state religion in several Korean kingdoms, including Baekje (528). From the North South States Period (not to be confused with the current split of Korea) until Goryeo, Buddhism was the official religion of Unified Silla before being suppressed by the Joseon dynasty in favor of Neo-Confucianism.
Although there are less than 30,000 Muslims in South Korea, the nation has 100,000 migrant workers from Islamic countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
Korean shamanism, often known as Muism (religion of the mu [shamans]) or Sinism (religion of the gods), includes a wide range of indigenous Korean religious beliefs and rituals. Muism is the most often used word in modern South Korea, and a shaman is known as a mudang or Tangol. This religion has regained popularity among Koreans during the early 2000s.
South Korea’s mixed economy is ranked 11th nominally and 13th in terms of purchasing power parity GDP, putting it among the G-20 big countries. It is the most industrialized OECD member nation and is a developed country with a high-income economy. South Korean companies such as LG Electronics and Samsung are well-known throughout the world.
With its enormous investment in education, the country has progressed from widespread illiteracy to a significant global technical powerhouse. From the early 1960s until the late 1990s, South Korea’s economy was one of the world’s fastest-growing, and it is currently one of the fastest-growing developed nations in the 2000s, with Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, the other three Asian Tigers. The Miracle on the Han River is how South Koreans refer to this development. South Korea’s economy is highly reliant on foreign commerce; in 2014, it was the world’s fifth biggest exporter and seventh largest importer.
In November 2010, the fifth G20 summit was held in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The two-day summit was projected to improve South Korea’s economy by 31 trillion won in economic impacts, or 4% of the country’s 2010 GDP, and generate over 160,000 jobs. It may also help the country’s sovereign credit rating improve.
Despite South Korea’s strong development potential and apparent structural stability, the country’s credit rating is harmed in the stock market due to North Korea’s belligerence during severe military crises, which has a negative impact on South Korean financial markets. The International Monetary Fund lauds South Korea’s economic resilience in the face of different economic crises, noting low state debt and large fiscal reserves that can be rapidly deployed to deal with financial crises. Despite being badly damaged by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, the South Korean economy recovered quickly and quadrupled its GDP.
Furthermore, during the global financial crisis, South Korea was one of the few developed nations to escape a recession. Its economic growth rate in 2010 was 6.2 percent (the fastest in eight years following substantial growth of 7.2 percent in 2002), a considerable improvement from 2.3 percent in 2008 and 0.2 percent in 2009, when the global financial crisis struck. South Korea’s unemployment rate remained low in 2009, at 3.6 percent.