The Korean Peninsula, stretching out into the Pacific Ocean at the tip of Northeast Asia, was split horizontally after World War II. After the Republic of Korea was established in 1948, the Korean War broke out just two years later. The war ended in stalemate and an armistice was signed in 1953, leaving Korea divided even today.
Due to its geopolitical significance as the meeting point between continent and ocean, Korea has long endured invasions and interference from more powerful nations. It has faced difficulty maintaining its independence as a result. However, after overcoming the wounds of the war, Korea Republic has become one of the world’s top 20 economies.
Democracy is relatively new to the country, but in the short period of time it has quickly industrialised and achieved tremendous growth, especially in manufacturing (such as cars and household appliances) and communication technologies. Thanks to the willingness of the Korean people to accept new ideas, the country now enjoys internet speeds, smartphone distribution rates, and other innovation-related figures that consistently rank it top in the world.
Although the “Land of the Morning Calm” is developing at a fast pace, it still maintains traces of its past. Scattered across the capital city of Seoul are palaces and royal tombs that capture the majesty of the Joseon Dynasty. Meanwhile, the hanok villages at Bukchon and Jeonju, along with the Andong Hahoe Folk Village, preserve Korean traditional houses. There are also many famous Buddhist temples located in the mountains that cover 70 per cent of the country. Haeinsa, for example, is known for its Tripitaka Koreana, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
It is impossible to exclude sport in a discussion of the Korean people. The most popular at all levels is football, though professional baseball also secures many fans. Korea Republic has established professional leagues in football, baseball, basketball and volleyball, and has achieved good results in international tournaments such as world championships and the Olympics. Korean football in particular is of the highest tier in Asia. The Korea Republic national football team, the Taeguk Warriors, have qualified for a record eight consecutive FIFA World Cup™ finals.