South Korea

SOUTH KOREA

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South Korea Wikipedia



"ROK" redirects here. For other uses, see ROK (disambiguation).
"Republic of Korea" redirects here. It is not to be confused with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Centered taegeuk on a white rectangle inclusive of four black trigramsCentered taegeuk on a hibiscus syriacus surrounded by five stylized petals and a ribbon
FlagEmblem
Motto: "홍익인간" (Korean) (de facto)


"Benefit Broadly the Human World"
Anthem: "애국가" (Korean) (de jure)


"Patriotic Song"


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Projection of Asia with South Korea in green
Capital


and largest city
Seoul


37°33′N 126°58′E / 37.550°N 126.967°E / 37.550; 126.967
Official languagesKorean
Official scriptsHangul
Demonym
  • South Korean
  • Korean
GovernmentUnitary presidential


constitutional republic
 - PresidentPark Geun-hye
 - Prime MinisterJung Hong-won
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence from Empire of Japan
 - DivisionAugust 15, 1945 
 - ConstitutionJuly 17, 1948 
 - RepublicAugust 15, 1948 
Area
 - Total100,210 km2 (109th)


38,691 sq mi
 - Water (%)0.3 (301 km2 / 116 mi2)
Population
 - 2013 estimate50,219,669 (26th)
GDP (PPP)2014 estimate
 - Total$1.755 trillion (12th)
 - Per capita$34,777 (26th)
GDP (nominal)2014 estimate
 - Total$1.271 trillion (15th)
 - Per capita$25,931 (33rd)
Gini (2011)31.1


medium · 109th
HDI (2013)Increase 0.909


very high · 12th
CurrencySouth Korean won (₩)

(KRW)
Time zoneKorea Standard Time (UTC+9)
 - Summer (DST)not observed (UTC+9)
Date format
  • yyyy년 mm월 dd일
  • yyyy/mm/dd (CE)
Drives on theright
Calling code+82
ISO 3166 codeKR
Internet TLD
  • .kr
  • .한국
South Korea
Hangul대한민국
Hanja大韓民國
Revised RomanizationDaehan Min-guk
McCune–ReischauerTaehan Min’guk
You may need rendering support to display the Korean text in this article correctly.
South Korea (About this sound listen), officially the Republic of Korea (Hangul: 대한민국; Hanja: 大韓民國; Daehan Minguk About this sound listen; lit. "The Great Republic of Han"), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from Goryeo, a dynasty which ruled in the Middle Ages. It shares land borders with North Korea to the north, and oversea borders with China to the west and Japan to the east. South Korea lies in the north temperate zone with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Roughly half of the country's 50 million people reside in the metropolitan area surrounding its capital, the Seoul Capital Area, which is the second largest in the world with over 25 million residents.

Korea was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period and its civilization begins with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC. After the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea in 668, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under dynasties lasting for centuries in which its trade, culture, literature, science and technology flourished. It became part of the Japanese Empire in 1910 and after its defeat in 1945, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. zones of occupation, with the latter becoming the Republic of Korea in 1948. Although the United Nations passed a resolution declaring the Republic to be the only lawful government of Korea, a communist regime was soon set up in the North that invaded the South in 1950, leading to the Korean War that ended de facto in 1953, with peace and prosperity settling-in thereafter.

Between 1962 and 1994, South Korea's tiger economy grew at an average of 10% annually, fueled by annual export growth of 20%, in a period called the Miracle on the Han River that rapidly transformed it into a high-income advanced economy and the world's 11th largest economy by 1995. Today, South Korea is the eighth largest country in international trade, a regional power in Asia and founding member of the G-20 and APEC. Civilian government replaced military rule in 1987 and it has since evolved into a vibrant democracy ranked second in Asia on the Democracy Index. In 2009, South Korea became the world's first former aid recipient to join the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, becoming a major donor. Its pop culture has considerable influence in Asia and expanding globally in a process called the Korean Wave.

South Korea is a developed country ranked 12th in the Human Development Index, while in terms of average wage, it has Asia's highest income and the world's 10th highest income. It ranks highly in education, quality of healthcare, rule of law, ease of doing business, government transparency, job security, tolerance and inclusion. 64% of 25-34 year old Koreans hold a tertiary education degree, the highest in the OECD. A world leader in innovation as measured in the Bloomberg Innovation Quotient, South Korea is the world's seventh largest exporter, driven by high-tech multinationals such as Samsung, Hyundai-Kia and LG. South Korea has global leadership in advanced technology such as the world's fastest Internet connection speed, ranking first in the ICT Development Index, e-Government, 4G LTE penetration and second in smartphone penetration.

Contents

                Etymology

                See also: Names of Korea
                The name Korea derives from Goryeo, itself referring to the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo, the first Korean dynasty visited by Persian merchants who referred to Koryŏ (Goryeo; 고려) as Korea. The term Koryŏ also widely became used to refer to Goguryeo, which renamed itself Koryŏ in the 5th century. Despite the coexistence of the spellings Corea and Korea in 19th century publications, some Koreans believe that Japan, around the time of the Japanese occupation, intentionally standardised the spelling on Korea, making Japan appear first alphabetically.

                After Goryeo fell in 1392, Joseon became the official name for the entire territory, though it was not universally accepted. The new official name has its origin in the ancient country of Gojoseon (Old Joseon). In 1897, the Joseon dynasty changed the official name of the country from Joseon to Daehan Jeguk (Korean Empire). The name Daehan, which means "great Han" literally, derives from Samhan (Three Hans). However, the name Joseon was still widely used by Koreans to refer to their country, though it was no longer the official name. Under Japanese rule, the two names Han and Joseon coexisted. There were several groups who fought for independence, the most notable being the Daehan Minguk Imsi Jeongbu.

                Following the surrender of Japan, in 1945, the Republic of Korea (Daehan Minguk) was adopted as the legal name for the new country. Since the government only controlled the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, the informal term South Korea was coined, becoming increasingly common in the Western world. While South Koreans use Han (or Hanguk) to refer to the entire country, North Koreans use Joseon as the name of the country.

                History

                Part of a series on the
                Bulguksa temple, Gyeongju
                Prehistory
                • Jeulmun
                • Mumun
                Gojoseon
                • Wiman Joseon
                • Jin state
                Proto–Three Kingdoms
                • Buyeo
                • Goguryeo
                • Okjeo
                • Dongye
                • Samhan (Ma
                • Byeon
                • Jin)
                • Four Commanderies of Han
                Three Kingdoms
                Goguryeo37 BC–668 AD
                Baekje18 BC–660 AD
                Silla57 BC–935 AD
                Gaya confederacy42–562
                North and South States
                Unified Silla668–935
                Balhae698–926
                Later Three Kingdoms
                Hubaekje892–936
                Taebong901–918
                Silla57 BC–935 AD
                Unitary dynastic period
                Goryeo918–1392
                Joseon1392–1897
                Korean Empire1897–1910
                Colonial period
                Japanese rule1910–45
                Provisional Government1919–48
                Division of Korea
                Military Governments1945–48
                North Korea1948–present
                South Korea1948–present
                By topic
                • Art
                • Language
                • Military
                • Monarchs
                • Naval
                • Science and technology
                Timeline


                Portal icon Korea portal

                Before the division

                Main article: History of Korea



                Jikji, the first known book printed with movable metal type in 1377. Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris
                Korean history begins with the founding of Chosun (often known as "Gojoseon" to prevent confusion with another dynasty founded in the 14th century; the prefix Go- means 'older,' 'before,' 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 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 to have the control of 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 Russian Far East. It fell to the Khitan in 926.

                The peninsula was united by King 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 1392, following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.



                Gyeongbok Palace is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty.
                King Taejo declared the new name of Korea as "Joseon" in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Hanseong (old name of 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 15th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country.

                Between 1592 and 1598, Japan invaded Korea. Toyotomi Hideyoshi led the Japanese forces, but his advance was halted by Korean forces with assistance from Righteous army militias and Ming Dynasty China troops. Through a series of successful battles of attrition, the Japanese forces were eventually forced to withdraw, and subsequently signed a peace agreement with diplomats of Ming 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 which eventually extended to China as well.

                After another series of wars against Manchuria, Joseon experienced a nearly 200-year period of peace. King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo particularly led a new renaissance of the Joseon Dynasty.

                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 First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War, Korea was occupied by Japan (1910–45). 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.

                After the division

                Main article: History of South Korea



                Between 1962 and 1994, the South Korean economy grew at an average of 10% annually, fueled by annual export growth of 20%, in a period called the Miracle on the Han River.
                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 South Syngman Rhee, an opponent of communism, who had been backed and appointed by the United States as head of the provisional government, won the first presidential elections of the newly declared Republic of Korea in May. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerrilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung was appointed premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in September. In October the Soviet Union declared Kim Il-sung's government as sovereign over both parts, quickly followed by the UN General Assembly in December. The UN, which had a Western majority until 1955, declared Rhee's government as "a lawful government" and "the only such government in Korea." Both leaders began an authoritarian repression of their political opponents inside their region, seeking for a unification of Korea under their control. While South Korea's request for military support was denied by the United States, North Korea's military was heavily reinforced by the Soviet Union.

                On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, sparking the Korean War, the Cold War's first major conflict that continued until 1953. 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[citation needed] 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. Over 1.2 million people died during the Korean war.



                Namdaemun is a historic pagoda-style gateway.



                Korean peninsula at night, shown in a 2012 composite photograph from NASA. The amount of light is a direct indicator of economic activity.
                In 1960, a student uprising (the "April 19 Revolution") led to the resignation of the autocratic, corrupt 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 political repression. Park was heavily criticised as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure. The government developed the nation-wide expressway system, the Seoul subway system, and laid the foundation for economic development 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 a 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 the island of 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, Park Jong-chul, was tortured to death. On June 10, 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 6.29 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 recovered 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." However, because of discontent among the population for fruitless approaches to the North under the previous administrations and, amid North Korean provocations, a conservative government was elected in 2007 led by President Lee Myung-bak, former mayor of Seoul. More recently, Park Geun-hye won the South Korean presidential election, 2012.

                In 2002, South Korea and Japan jointly co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. However, South Korean and Japanese relations later soured because of conflicting claims of sovereignty over the Liancourt Rocks ("Dokdo" in Korea), in what became known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute.

                Government

                Main article: Government of South Korea



                The National Assembly of South Korea
                Under its current constitution the state is sometimes referred to as the Sixth Republic of South Korea. Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government 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 from 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".

                Administrative divisions

                Main articles: Provinces of South Korea and Administrative divisions of South Korea
                See also Special cities of South Korea and Provinces of Korea


                The major administrative divisions in South Korea are provinces, metropolitan cities (self-governing cities that are not part of any province), one special city and one special autonomous city.
                MapNameaHangulHanjaPopulationc
                Gangwon
                Seoul
                Incheon
                Gyeonggi
                South Chungcheong
                North Chungcheong
                Sejong
                Daejeon
                North Gyeongsang
                North Jeolla
                Daegu
                Ulsan
                Busan
                South Gyeongsang
                Gwangju
                South Jeolla
                Jeju
                North Korea
                Japan
                Yellow Sea

                (West Sea)
                Korea Strait

                (Western Channel)
                Korea Strait

                (Tsushima Strait)
                Sea of Japan

                (East Sea)
                Special city (Teugbyeolsi)a
                Seoul서울특별시서울特別市b10,143,645
                Metropolitan cities (Gwangyeogsi)a
                Busan부산광역시釜山廣域市3,527,635
                Daegu대구광역시大邱廣域市2,501,588
                Incheon인천광역시仁川廣域市2,879,782
                Gwangju광주광역시光州廣域市1,472,910
                Daejeon대전광역시大田廣域市1,532,811
                Ulsan울산광역시蔚山廣域市1,156,480
                Special self-governing city (Teugbyeol-jachisi)a
                Sejong세종특별자치시世宗特別自治市122,153
                Provinces (Do)a
                Gyeonggi경기도京畿道12,234,630
                Gangwon강원도江原道1,542,263
                North Chungcheong충청북도忠淸北道1,572,732
                South Chungcheong충청남도忠淸南道2,047,631
                North Jeolla전라북도全羅北道1,872,965
                South Jeolla전라남도全羅南道1,907,172
                North Gyeongsang경상북도慶尙北道2,699,440
                South Gyeongsang경상남도慶尙南道3,333,820
                Special self-governing province (Teugbyeoljachi-do)a
                Jeju제주특별자치도濟州特別自治道593,806
                a Revised Romanisation; b See Names of Seoul; c As of 2013 year-end.

                Foreign relations

                Main article: Foreign relations of South Korea
                South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with more than 188 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

                In 2010, South Korea and the European Union concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) to reduce trade barriers. South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada, and another with New Zealand. In November 2009 South Korea joined the OECD Development Assistance Committee, marking the first time a former aid recipient country joined the group as a donor member. South Korea hosted the G-20 Summit in Seoul in November 2010.

                China

                Main articles: China–South Korea relations and South Korea–Taiwan relations
                Historically, Korea has had close relations with China. Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters worked with Chinese soldiers during the Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the People's Republic of China embraced Maoism while South Korea sought close relations with the United States. The PRC assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and the PRC almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually and South Korea and the PRC re-established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and South Korean–Chinese relations have improved steadily since 1992. The Republic of Korea broke off official relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) upon gaining official relations with the People's Republic of China, which doesn't recognise Taiwan's sovereignty.

                European Union

                Main article: South Korea–European Union relations
                The European Union (EU) and South Korea are important trading partners, having negotiated a free trade agreement for many years since South Korea was designated as a priority FTA partner in 2006. The free trade agreement was approved in September 2010, and took effect on July 1, 2011. South Korea is the EU's eighth largest trade partner, and the EU has become South Korea's second largest export destination. EU trade with South Korea exceeded €65 billion in 2008 and has enjoyed an annual average growth rate of 7.5% between 2004 and 2008.

                The EU has been the single largest foreign investor in South Korea since 1962, and accounted for almost 45% of all FDI inflows into Korea in 2006. Nevertheless, EU companies have significant problems accessing and operating in the South Korean market because of stringent standards and testing requirements for products and services often creating barriers to trade. Both in its regular bilateral contacts with South Korea and through its FTA with Korea, the EU is seeking to improve this situation.

                Japan

                Main article: Japan–South Korea relations
                See also: History of Japan–Korea relations and Japan–Korea disputes



                Liancourt Rocks has become an issue known as the Liancourt Rocks dispute
                Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the end of World War II, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea because of a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation after the Japanese annexation of Korea. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans served in the Imperial Japanese Army. Korean women were forced to the war front to serve the Imperial Japanese Army as sexual slaves, called comfort women.

                Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war (including some class A war criminals), the re-writing of Japanese textbooks relating Japanese acts during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks (South Korean name: Dokdo, Japanese name: Takeshima) continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. Although Dokdo/Takeshima is claimed by both Korea and Japan, the islets are administered by South Korea, which has its coast guard stationed there.

                In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, former President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan in 2009.

                North Korea

                Main article: North Korea–South Korea relations
                Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace. On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an eight-point agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.

                Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, 2006 and 2009 and 2013. As of early 2009[update], relationships between North and South Korea were very tense; North Korea had been reported to have deployed missiles, ended its former agreements with South Korea, and threatened South Korea and the United States not to interfere with a satellite launch it had planned. North and South Korea are still technically at war (having never signed a peace treaty after the Korean War) and share the world's most heavily fortified border. On May 27, 2009, North Korean media declared that the Armistice is no longer valid because of the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative. To further complicate and intensify strains between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010, is affirmed by the South Korean government to have been caused by a North Korean torpedo, which the North denies. President Lee Myung-bak declared in May 2010 that Seoul would cut all trade with North Korea as part of measures primarily aimed at striking back at North Korea diplomatically and financially, except for the joint Kaesong Industrial Project, and humanitarian aid. North Korea initially threatened to sever all ties, to completely abrogate the previous pact of non-aggression, and to expel all South Koreans from a joint industrial zone in Kaesong, but backtracked on its threats and decided to continue its ties with South Korea. But despite the continuing ties, Kaesong industrial zone has seen a large decrease in investment and manpower as a result of this military conflict. Unlike Israel, South Korean citizens do not have gas masks to protect themselves from chemical attacks from neighboring countries.

                United States

                Main article: South Korea–United States relations



                President Park Geun-hye at a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on 7 May 2013
                The United States engaged in the decolonization of Korea (mainly in the South, with the Soviet Union engaged in North Korea) from Japan after World War II. After three years of military administration by the United States, the South Korean government was established. Upon the onset of the Korean War, U.S. forces were sent to help an invasion from South Korea of the North. Following the Armistice, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to a "Mutual Defense Treaty", under which an attack on either party in the Pacific area would summon a response from both. In 1967, South Korea obliged the mutual defense treaty, by sending a large combat troop contingent to support the United States in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Eighth Army, Seventh Air Force, and U.S. Naval Forces Korea are stationed in South Korea. The two nations have strong economic, diplomatic, and military ties, although they have at times disagreed with regard to policies towards North Korea, and with regard to some of South Korea's industrial activities that involve usage of rocket or nuclear technology. There had also been strong anti-American sentiment during certain periods, which has largely moderated in the modern day. In 2007, a free trade agreement known as the Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was signed between South Korea and the United States, but its formal implementation was repeatedly delayed, pending approval by the legislative bodies of the two countries. On October 12, 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the long-stalled trade agreement with South Korea. It went into effect on March 15, 2012.

                Military

                Main article: Republic of Korea Armed Forces
                Ambox current red.svg
                This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (March 2012)
                A long history of invasions by neighbors and the unresolved tension with North Korea have prompted South Korea to allocate 2.6% of its GDP and 15% of all government spending to its military (Government share of GDP: 14.967%), while maintaining compulsory conscription for men. Consequently, South Korea has the world's sixth largest number of active troops (650,000 in 2011), the world's second-largest number of reserve troops (3,200,000 in 2011) and the eleventh largest defense budget. The Republic of Korea, with both regular and reserve military force numbering 3.7 million regular personnel among a total national population of 50 million people, has the second highest number of soldiers per capita in the world, after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

                The South Korean military consists of the Army (ROKA), the Navy (ROKN), the Air Force (ROKAF), and the Marine Corps (ROKMC), and reserve forces. Many of these forces are concentrated near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. All South Korean males are constitutionally required to serve in the military, typically 21 months. Previously, Koreans of mixed race were exempt from military duty but no exception from 2011.



                ROKN Sejong the Great (DDG 991), a King Sejong the Great -class guided-missile destroyer
                In addition to male conscription in South Korea's sovereign military, 1,800 Korean males are selected every year to serve 21 months in the KATUSA Program to further augment the USFK. In 2010, South Korea was spending ₩1.68 trillion in a cost-sharing agreement with the US to provide budgetary support to the US forces in Korea, on top of the ₩29.6 trillion budget for its own military.



                ROK Army K2 Black Panther
                The South Korean army has 2,500 tanks in operation, including the K1A1 and K2 Black Panther, which form the backbone of the South Korean army's mechanized armor and infantry forces. A sizable arsenal of many artillery systems, including 1,700 self-propelled K55 and K9 Thunder howitzers and 680 helicopters and UAVs of numerous types, are assembled to provide additional fire, reconnaissance, and logistics support. South Korea's smaller but more advanced artillery force and wide range of airborne reconnaissance platforms are pivotal in the counter-battery suppression of North Korea's over-sized artillery force, which operates more than 13,000 artillery systems deployed in various state of fortification and mobility.

                The South Korean navy has made its first major transformation into a blue-water navy through the formation of the Strategic Mobile Fleet, which includes a battle group of Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin class destroyers, Dokdo class amphibious assault ship, AIP-driven Type 214 submarines, and King Sejong the Great class destroyers, which is equipped with the latest baseline of Aegis fleet-defense system that allows the ships to track and destroy multiple cruise missiles and ballistic missiles simultaneously, forming an integral part of South Korea's indigenous missile defense umbrella against the North Korean military's missile threat.

                The South Korean air force operates 840 aircraft, making it world's ninth largest air force, including several types of advanced fighters like F-15K, heavily modified KF-16C/D, and the indigenous F/A-50, supported by well-maintained fleets of older fighters such as F-4E and KF-5E/F that still effectively serve the air force alongside the more modern aircraft. In an attempt to gain strength in terms of not just numbers but also modernity, the commissioning of four Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft, under Project Peace Eye for centralized intelligence gathering and analysis on a modern battlefield, will enhance the fighters' and other support aircraft's ability to perform their missions with awareness and precision.

                In May 2011, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., South Korea's largest plane maker, signed a $400 million deal to sell 16 T-50 Golden Eagle trainer jets to Indonesia, marking South Korea as the first time for the country in Asia to export supersonic jets.



                ROKAF TA-50 Golden Eagle
                From time to time, South Korea has sent its troops overseas to assist American forces. It has participated in most major conflicts that the United States has been involved in the past 50 years. South Korea dispatched 325,517 troops to fight alongside American, Australian, Filipino, New Zealand and South Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War, with a peak strength of 50,000. In 2004, South Korea sent 3,300 troops of the Zaytun Division to help re-building in northern Iraq, and was the third largest contributor in the coalition forces after only the US and Britain. Beginning in 2001, South Korea had so far deployed 24,000 troops in the Middle East region to support the War on Terrorism. A further 1,800 were deployed since 2007 to reinforce UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.

                The United States have stationed a substantial contingent of troops in South Korea since the Korean War to defend South Korea in case of East Asian military crises. There are approximately 28,500 U.S. Military personnel stationed in Korea, most of them serving one year of unaccompanied tours. The American troops, which are primarily ground and air units, are assigned to US Forces Korea and mainly assigned to the Eighth United States Army of the US Army & Seventh Air Force of the US Air Force. They are stationed in installations at Osan, Kunsan, Yongsan, Dongducheon, Sungbuk, Camp Humphreys, and Daegu, as well as at Camp Bonifas in the DMZ Joint Security Area . A still functioning UN Command is technically the top of the chain of command of all forces in South Korea, including the US forces and the entire South Korean military – if a sudden escalation of war between North and South Korea were to occur the United States would assume control of the South Korean armed forces in all military and paramilitary moves. However, in September 2006, the Presidents of the United States and the Republic of Korea agreed that South Korea should assume the lead for its own defense. In early 2007, the U.S. Secretary of Defense and ROK Minister of National Defense determined that South Korea will assume wartime operational control of its forces on December 1, 2015. U.S. Forces Korea will transform into a new joint-warfighting command, provisionally described as Korea Command (KORCOM).

                Geography, climate and environment

                Main article: Geography of South Korea

                Geography




                Topography of South Korea
                South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 1,100 km (680 mi) from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and Sea of Japan (East Sea) to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea.

                The country, including all its islands, lies between latitudes 33° and 39°N, and longitudes 124° and 130°E. Its total area is 100,032 square kilometres (38,622.57 sq mi).

                South Korea can be divided into four general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills; a southwestern region of mountains and valleys; and a southeastern region dominated by the broad basin of the Nakdong River.

                South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous, most of which is not arable. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, make up only 30% of the total land area.

                About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea. Jeju-do is about 100 kilometres (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country's largest island, with an area of 1,845 square kilometres (712 sq mi). Jeju is also the site of South Korea's highest point: Hallasan, an extinct volcano, reaches 1,950 meters (6,398 ft) above sea level. The easternmost islands of South Korea include Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo), while Marado and Socotra Rock are the southernmost islands of South Korea.

                South Korea has 20 national parks and popular nature places like the Boseong Tea Fields, Suncheon Bay Ecological Park, and the first national park of Jirisan.

                Climate

                Main article: Climate of South Korea
                Seoul
                Climate chart (explanation)
                JFMAMJJASOND
                 
                 
                22
                 
                2
                −6
                 
                 
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                −4
                 
                 
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                10
                1
                 
                 
                77
                 
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                27
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                29
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                20
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                3
                 
                 
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                4
                −3
                Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
                Precipitation totals in mm
                Source:
                Imperial conversion
                JFMAMJJASOND
                 
                 
                0.9
                 
                35
                21
                 
                 
                0.9
                 
                39
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                1.8
                 
                50
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                3
                 
                64
                45
                 
                 
                4
                 
                73
                55
                 
                 
                5.2
                 
                80
                64
                 
                 
                13
                 
                84
                71
                 
                 
                14
                 
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                72
                 
                 
                5.4
                 
                78
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                1.9
                 
                67
                50
                 
                 
                2.1
                 
                53
                37
                 
                 
                1
                 
                40
                26
                Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
                Precipitation totals in inches
                South Korea tends to have a humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate, and is affected by the East Asian monsoon, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma (장마), which begins end of June through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −20 °C (−4 °F) in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is −7 to 1 °C (19 to 34 °F), and the average August temperature range is 22 to 30 °C (72 to 86 °F). Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and considerably lower in the mountainous interior. Summer can be uncomfortably hot and humid, with temperatures exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) in most parts of the country. South Korea has four distinct seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter. Spring usually lasts from late-March to early- May, summer from mid-May to early-September, autumn from mid-September to early-November, and winter from mid-November to mid-March.

                Rainfall is concentrated in the summer months of June through September. The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring strong winds and heavy rains. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimetres (54 in) in Seoul to 1,470 millimetres (58 in) in Busan. There are occasional typhoons that bring high winds and floods.

                Environment

                Main article: Environment of South Korea



                Waterfall on Jeju Island
                During the first 20 years of South Korea's growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment. Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat. However, there have been recent efforts to balance these problems, including a government run $84 billion five-year green growth project that aims to boost energy efficiency and green technology.

                The green-based economic strategy is a comprehensive overhaul of South Korea's economy, utilizing nearly two percent of the national GDP. The greening initiative includes such efforts as a nationwide bike network, solar and wind energy, lowering oil dependent vehicles, backing daylight savings and extensive usage of environmentally friendly technologies such as LEDs in electronics and lighting. The country – already the world's most wired – plans to build a nationwide next-generation network which will be 10 times faster than broadband facilities in order to reduce energy usage.

                The renewable portfolio standard program with renewable energy certificates runs from 2012 to 2022. Quota systems favor large, vertically integrated generators and multinational electric utilities, if only because certificates are generally denominated in units of one megawatt-hour. They are also more difficult to design and implement than an a Feed-in tariff. Around 350 residential micro combined heat and power units where installed in 2012.

                Seoul's tap water recently became safe to drink, with city officials branding it "Arisu" in a bid to convince the public. Efforts have also been made with afforestation projects. Another multi-billion dollar project was the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, a stream running through downtown Seoul that had earlier been paved over by a motorway. One major challenge is air quality, with acid rain, sulfur oxides, and annual yellow dust storms being particular problems. It is acknowledged that many of these difficulties are a result of South Korea's proximity to China, which is a major air polluter.

                South Korea is a member of the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity Treaty, Kyoto Protocol (forming the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), regarding UNFCCC, with Mexico and Switzerland), Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (not into force), Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling.

                Economy

                Main article: Economy of South Korea
                See also: Developed country, High-income economies and G-20 major economies



                Graphical depiction of Korea's product exports in 28 color-coded categories.



                Galaxy S4 made by South Korea's Samsung Electronics, the world's largest technology company measured by 2012 revenues.
                Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korea )
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