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Korea: Where old meets new

26 October 2007, 18:38

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The Korean peninsula has a land area of approximately 220 000 sq. km. it is divided at the 38th parallel by a demilitarized zone separating South and North Korea.

South Korea’s 99 500 sq. km is populated by 47.6 million people. Administratively, the Republic of Korea consists of nine provinces (do); the capital Seoul; and the six metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan. King Sejong has developed the Korean language, the Hangeul, in 1443. It is composed of 10 simple vowels and 14 consonants.

The habitation of early man in Korea appears to have started about half a million years ago. The first kingdom, named Gojoseon was formed in 2333 B.C. by the first century B.C., Korea’s three ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla ruled the whole Korean peninsula and much of Manchuria; they were by far the most powerful and eminent kingdoms in the area. Silla ultimately vanquished Goguryeo and Baekje in A.D. 668 and 660 respectively; Silla unified the peninsula for the first time. The Unified Silla period, A.D. 676-935, was a golden age for Korean culture. In the succeeding Goryeo Dynasty, A.D. 918-1392, an aristocratic government was instituted. Buddhism was established as the state religion.

The Joseon Dynasty, A.D. 1392-1910, was the peninsula’s final dynasty. During this period, various political and economic reforms were enacted.

The Japanese invasion of the peninsula in 1910 ended the Joseon Dynasty. Korea remained under Japanese colonial rule for 35 years until the end of World War II.

Then the Korean peninsula was divided into two: South Korea in the free world and North Korea in the communist bloc.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded the South. An Armistice agreement was signed three years later in 1953.


Photo: Haechi and Gwanghwamun Gate / Provided by: Korea Tourism Organization

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