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Culture Of South Korea

AsiaSouth KoreaCulture Of South Korea

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South Korea and North Korea share a traditional culture, but since the peninsula was split in 1945, the two Koreas have evolved different modern cultures. While Korea’s culture has been significantly affected by that of neighboring China in the past, it has nevertheless managed to establish a separate cultural identity from that of its bigger neighbor. Through financing and teaching programs, the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism actively promotes both traditional and contemporary forms of art.

South Korea’s industrialization and urbanization have resulted in many changes in the way people live. Changing economy and lifestyles have resulted in a population concentration in large cities, particularly Seoul, with multi-generational families breaking up into nuclear family living arrangements. According to a Euromonitor survey from 2014, South Koreans consume the most alcohol on a weekly basis of anybody in the world. South Koreans consume 13.7 shots of liquor each week on average, with Russia, the Philippines, and Thailand coming in second and third, respectively, among the 44 nations studied.


Buddhism and Confucianism have had a strong impact on Korean art, which can be observed in the numerous traditional paintings, sculptures, pottery, and performing arts. Joseon’s baekja and buncheong, as well as Goryeo’s celadon, are well-known across the globe. Korean performing arts include the Korean tea ceremony, pansori, talchumand buchaechum.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when South Korean artists were interested in geometrical forms and intangible themes, postwar contemporary Korean art began to thrive. Creating a balance between man and nature was also a popular topic at the time. In the 1980s, social problems became prominent as a result of social unrest. In Korea, art was inspired by different foreign events and exhibitions, resulting in more variety. The Olympic Sculpture Garden in 1988, the Whitney Biennial’s 1993 relocation to Seoul, the founding of the Gwangju Biennale, and the Korean Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1995 were all significant occurrences.


Construction and destruction have been repeated constantly due to South Korea’s turbulent history, resulting in an intriguing mix of architectural styles and forms.

The harmony of Korean traditional building with nature is its distinguishing feature. The bracket system, which is typified by thatched roofs and heated floors known as ondol, was adopted by ancient architects. The higher classes constructed larger homes with beautifully curved tiled roofs and soaring eaves. Palaces and temples, as well as preserved ancient homes known as hanok and unique places such as Hahoe Folk Village, Yangdong Village of Gyeongju, and Korean Folk Village, all feature traditional architecture. Traditional architecture may also be seen in South Korea’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Western architecture was first brought to Korea. New styles were used to construct churches, offices for foreign laws, schools, and university buildings. The colonial government interfered in Korea’s architectural history with Japan’s conquest of the country in 1910, imposing Japanese-style contemporary building. Most structures built during the period were destroyed due to anti-Japanese sentiment during the Korean War.

During the post-Korean War rebuilding, Korean architecture began a new era of growth, integrating contemporary architectural ideas and styles. Active redevelopment, fueled by economic expansion in the 1970s and 1980s, witnessed new frontiers in architectural design. Following the 1988 Seoul Olympics, South Korea’s architectural environment has seen a broad range of styles, thanks in large part to the market’s opening up to international architects. Contemporary architectural endeavors have been continually attempting to strike a balance between the ancient concept of “harmony with nature” and the country’s rapid urbanization in recent years.


Hanguk yori also known as hansik, is a kind of Korean cuisine that has developed through centuries of social and political upheaval. Provinces have different ingredients and cuisines. There are many important regional cuisines that have spread throughout the nation in various forms in recent years. For the royal family, Korean royal court food formerly brought together all of the distinct regional specialities. A distinct tradition of etiquette governs the consumption of meals by both the royal family and ordinary Korean people.

Rice, noodles, tofu, veggies, seafood, and meats make up the majority of Korean cuisine. Traditional Korean dinners are known for the abundance of banchan (), or side dishes, that accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal comes with a variety of banchan. One of the most well-known Korean foods is kimchi  a fermented, typically spicy vegetable dish that is frequently eaten at every meal. Sesame oil, doenjang (a kind of fermented soybean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and gochujang (a spicy pepper paste) are often used in Korean cuisine. Bulgogi (grilled marinated beef), Gimbap (spicy rice cake), and Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake seasoned with gochujang or a hot chili sauce) are all popular meals.

Soups are a frequent component of a Korean meal, and they are served as part of the main course rather than at the start or finish. Guk soups are often prepared with meats, seafood, and vegetables. Tang (;), like guk, contains less water and is more often offered in restaurants. Jjigae, a stew that is usually highly seasoned with chili pepper and served boiling hot, is another variation.

Snack businesses in South Korea, such as Lotte, are known for producing a broad variety of Korean or Asian-inspired snacks. Pepero, a Japanese snack that is similar to Pocky, is one example. Lotte Confectionery is the maker of Pepero.

Soju, Makgeolli, and Bokbunja ju are all popular Korean alcoholic drinks.

Metal chopsticks are used only in Korea, making it unusual among Asian nations. Metal chopsticks have been found at ancient sites in Goguryeo.


South Korean entertainment, such as television dramas, films, and popular music, has produced substantial financial earnings for the South Korean economy in addition to domestic consumption. South Korea has become a significant soft power as an exporter of popular culture and entertainment, rivaling many Western nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom, thanks to the cultural phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the “Korean Wave,” which has swept many countries throughout Asia.

Trot and ballads dominated South Korean popular music until the 1990s. Seo Taiji and Boys’ debut in 1992 was a watershed moment in South Korean popular music, commonly known as K-pop, since the group integrated aspects of Western popular musical genres such as hip hop, rhythm and blues, electronic dance, jazz, reggae, funk, and rock into their songs. Hip hop, rhythm and blues, rock, electronic dance, and ballad artists have dominated the South Korean popular music industry, but elderly South Koreans still love trot. K-pop artists and groups are well-known across Asia, and their worldwide success has resulted in millions of dollars in export income. Using online social media sites like as YouTube, several K-pop artists have been able to build a large international fanbase. When PSY’s song “Gangnam Style” reached the top of the worldwide music charts in 2012, he became an international phenomenon. BTS, a Korean boy band, has lately achieved enormous success, with their album Wings hitting number 26 on the Billboard 200.

The Korean cinema industry has started to acquire worldwide attention with the success of Shiri in 1999. Domestic films have a large portion of the market, thanks in part to screen quotas that require theaters to play Korean films at least 73 days each year.

Outside of Korea, South Korean television programs have grown popular. Princess Hours, You’re Beautiful, Playful Kiss, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, Boys Over Flowers, Winter Sonata, Autumn in My Heart, Full House, City Hunter, All About Eve, Secret Garden, I Can Hear Your Voice, Master’s Sun, My Love from the Star, and Descendants of the Sun are just a few examples of dramas with a romantic focus. Faith, Dae Jang Geum, The Legend, Dong Yi, Moon Embracing the Sun, and Sungkyunkwan Scandal are examples of historical dramas.


In South Korea, there are many official public holidays. The first day of the Korean lunar calendar is commemorated as Korean New Year’s Day, or “Seollal.” The March 1 Movement of 1919 is commemorated on Korean Independence Day, which occurs on March 1. The objective of Memorial Day, which is observed on June 6, is to commemorate the men and women who perished in the struggle for freedom in South Korea. Constitution Day is celebrated on July 17th and commemorates the proclamation of the Republic of Korea’s Constitution. On August 15, Independence Day commemorates Korea’s liberation from the Japanese Empire in 1945. Koreans celebrate the Midautumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, during which they visit their ancestral hometowns and consume a variety of traditional Korean dishes. Armed Troops Day is observed on October 1 to commemorate South Korea’s armed forces. The third of October is National Foundation Day. Hangul Day is celebrated on October 9th to honor the creation of hangul, the Korean language’s native alphabet. Unofficial festivals are also observed in Korea, such as Pepero Day, which honors the Korean snack pepero.


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that started in Korea. Modern regulations were established in the 1950s and 1960s, with taekwondo becoming an official Olympic sport in 2000. Taekkyeon, hapkido, Tang Soo Do, Kuk Sool Won, kumdo, and subak are some of the other Korean martial arts.

In Korea, football and baseball have long been considered the most popular sports. According to recent polls, the majority of South Korean sports enthusiasts, 41 percent, continue to identify as football supporters, with baseball coming in second with 25 percent of respondents. However, the survey did not reveal the percentage of people that follow both sports. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, jointly hosted by South Korea and Japan, the national football team became the first side from the Asian Football Confederation to reach the semi-finals. Since 1986, the Korea Republic national team (as it is called) has qualified for every World Cup, and has advanced beyond the group stage twice: first in 2002 and again in 2010, when it was beaten in the Round of 16 by eventual semi-finalist Uruguay. South Korea earned the bronze medal in football at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Baseball was originally brought to Korea in 1905 and has since grown in popularity, with some sources stating that it has overtaken football as the country’s most popular sport. Professional baseball games have seen an increase in attendance and ticket costs in recent years. In 1982, the Korea Professional Baseball League, a 10-team circuit, was founded. The national team of South Korea finished third in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and second in 2009. The team’s last game against Japan in 2009 was extensively followed in Korea, with the game being shown live on a big screen at Gwanghwamun crossing in Seoul. South Korea won the gold medal in baseball at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Korea also won the gold medal in the 1982 Baseball Worldcup. The Korean National Baseball team won gold in the 2010 Asian Games. A number of Korean baseball players have gone on to play in the major leagues.

Basketball is also a very popular sport in the nation. South Korea has long had one of Asia’s best basketball teams and one of the continent’s most competitive basketball divisions. The Asian Basketball Championships were held in Seoul in 1967 and 1995. To far, the Korean national basketball team has won a total of 23 medals in the tournament.

Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul, Seoul (Incheon). The Winter Universiade was held there in 1997, the Asian Winter Games in 1999, and the Summer Universiade was held there in 2003 and 2015. South Korea finished fourth at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, with 12 gold medals, 10 silver medals, and 11 bronze medals. In archery, shooting, table tennis, badminton, short track speed skating, handball, hockey, freestyle wrestling, Greco-Roman wrestling, baseball, judo, taekwondo, speed skating, figure skating, and weightlifting, South Korea consistently performs well. The Seoul Olympic Museum is a museum devoted to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected Pyeongchang to host the 2018 Winter Olympics on July 6, 2011.

With 45 medals, South Korea has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other Asian nation (23 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze). South Korea finished sixth in the overall medal standings at the 2010 Winter Olympics. In short track speed skating, South Korea is very strong. Speed skating and figure skating are popular in well, while ice hockey is a newer sport, with Anyang Halla winning their first Asia League Ice Hockey championship in March 2010.

In May 2010, Seoul played home to a professional triathlon event as part of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship Series. The 2011 IAAF World Championships in Athletics were held in Daegu, South Korea, in 2011.

The Korea International Circuit at Yeongam, roughly 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Seoul, held the country’s inaugural Formula One event in October 2010. From 2010 through 2013, the Korean Grand Prix was held, however it was not included in the 2014 Formula One schedule.

South Koreans are also fans of domestic horse racing, with Seoul Race Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do being the closest to Seoul of the three tracks in the nation.

Competitive video gaming, commonly known as eSports (or e-Sports), has grown in popularity in recent years in South Korea, especially among young people. League of Legends and StarCraft are the two most popular games. The Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) oversees the South Korean gaming industry, which has evolved into a profession for many gamers. They may make a livelihood from their hobby, and elite players can earn substantial sums of money, with some high-end Starcraft II players earning six-figure incomes.

How To Travel To South Korea

By plane Although South Korea has numerous international airports, only a handful offer regular flights. Over the past decade, South Korea has been engulfed in an airport construction frenzy. Many major cities have specialized airports that handle a small number of aircraft each week. The country's main airport, Incheon International Airport,...

How To Travel Around South Korea

South Korea is very small, so if you fly, you can go somewhere quickly, and even if you don't, you can get anywhere quickly. Most cities, including Seoul's metropolitan area, have subways. Subways in larger cities are either operational or in the planning stages. Travel by bus or cab...

Visa & Passport Requirements for South Korea

At ports of entry, the Korean Immigration Service gathers biometric data (digital photos and fingerprints) from foreign tourists (international airports and seaports). If any of these processes are rejected, entry will be denied. This condition does not apply to children under the age of 17 or foreign government and...

Destinations in South Korea

Regions in South Korea South Korea is split into nine administrative provinces, as shown below. Although the biggest cities are distinct entities from these provinces, we put them under the most relevant province for visitors. GyeonggiSurrounding Seoul and near to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which is covered with urban sprawl. GangwonSeoraksan National...

Accommodation & Hotels in South Korea

In South Korea, there is abundance of lodging in all price ranges. It's worth noting that costs in Seoul are usually twice as high as elsewhere in the nation. Some higher-end hotels have rooms with both Western and Korean styles. The ondol , a complex Korean-invented floor-heating system in which...

Things To See in South Korea

South Korea has long been known among Asian visitors as a top shopping, gastronomic, and sight-seeing destination. It is a relatively new vacation destination in the Western world, but it is quickly gaining appeal. And with good reason: South Korea combines old Asian characteristics with all the contemporary conveniences...

Things To Do in South Korea

Hiking Korea is a great hiking destination with many trekking possibilities due to the country's mountainous terrain. Try Jirisan, Seoraksan, or the extinct volcano Hallasan on Jeju Island, which is South Korea's highest mountain. They have spectacular vistas, 1-3 day trails, English signposts/maps, shelters (most of which are heated), and...

Food & Drinks in South Korea

Food in South Korea Korean food is gaining popularity outside of Korea, particularly in East Asia and the United States. With plenty of hot and fermented foods, it may be an acquired taste, but if you get accustomed to it, it's addicting, and Korean cuisine is certainly in a league...

Money & Shopping in South Korea

Currency South Korea's currency is the South Korean Won (KRW), which is written in Hangul.  Bills are available in denominations of 1,000 (blue), 5,000 (red), 10,000 (green), and 50,000. (yellow). The 50,000 is extremely useful if you need to carry about a considerable sum of cash, but it may be difficult...

Festivals & Holidays in South Korea

Traditional Korean festivals are based on the lunar calendar and therefore occur on various days each year. The two most important, Seollal and Chuseok, are family holidays in which everyone returns to their hometowns in large numbers, causing all modes of transportation to be completely congested. It's worth arranging...

Traditions & Customs in South Korea

Koreans are known for their quiet demeanor and impeccable decorum, since they hail from a country steeped in Confucian order and etiquette. You will not be expected to know every detail as a guest, but making an attempt would be much appreciated. The farther you go away from major...

Internet & Communications in South Korea

By phone In South Korea, international calling prefixes differ per operator, and there is no standard prefix. Consult your operator for the appropriate prefixes. The country code for calls to South Korea is 82. Because South Korea only utilizes the CDMA standard and does not have a GSM network, most 2G...

Language & Phrasebook in South Korea

South Koreans speak Korean, therefore learning a few words in the language would be extremely useful. Unfortunately, the syntax of the language differs significantly from that of any Western language, and pronunciation is difficult for an English speaker to master (though not tonal). Various dialects are spoken depending on...

History Of South Korea

Early history and founding of a nation Prehistoric toolmaking has been discovered on the Korean Peninsula dating back to 70,000 BC, with the earliest pottery discovered about 8000 BC. Around 3500-2000 BC, the comb-pattern ceramic civilization peaked. According to mythology, Korea started with the mythical Dangun's foundation of Gojoseon (also known...

Stay Safe & Healthy in South Korea

Stay Safe in South Korea Crime South Korea is a relatively safe nation, with recorded crime rates that are much lower than those in the United States and similar to those in other European Union countries. Even in the main cities, crime rates are similar to those in other safe locations...



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