South Korea
Christmas Around the World
Reagan Library Christmas Tree Exhibit

South Korea

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There are more Christians in South Korea than in many other Asian countries such as China and Japan, so Christmas is celebrated more widely.

Updated July 2024
Posted December 2023

SOUTH KOREAN CHRISTMAS

South Korea Flag

South Korean Christmas Tree
South Korean Christmas Tree

HOW TO SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS:
In KoreanMeli Keuliseumaseu
 

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament

South Korean Christmas Ornament


Ronald Reagan South Korea
November 12, 1983
Motorcade through Seoul

During President Reagan's State visit, he met with President Chun, addressed the National Assembly, and visited U.S. troops along the Demilitarized Zone.


South Korea

WIKIPEDIAOfficially the Republic of Korea (ROK)
A country in East Asia. It constitutes the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and borders North Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The country's western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan. South Korea claims to be the sole legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. It has a population of 51.96 million, of which roughly half live in the Seoul Capital Area, the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the world. Other major cities include Incheon, Busan, and Daegu.

The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea into Silla and Balhae in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). The succeeding Korean Empire (1897–1910) was annexed in 1910 into the Empire of Japan. Japanese rule ended following Japan's surrender in World War II, after which Korea was divided into two zones: a northern zone occupied by the Soviet Union, and a southern zone occupied by the United States. After negotiations on reunification failed, the southern zone became the Republic of Korea in August 1948, while the northern zone became the communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea the following month.

In 1950, a North Korean invasion began the Korean War, which ended in 1953 after extensive fighting involving the American-led United Nations Command and the People's Volunteer Army from China with Soviet assistance. The war left 3 million Koreans dead and the economy in ruins. The authoritarian First Republic of Korea led by Syngman Rhee was overthrown in the April Revolution of 1960. However, the Second Republic was incompetent as it couldn't control the revolutionary fervor. The May 16 coup of 1961 led by Park Chung Hee put an end to the Second Republic, signaling the start of the Third Republic in 1963. South Korea's devastated economy began to soar under Park's leadership, recording the fastest rise in average GDP per capita. Despite lacking natural resources, the nation rapidly developed to become one of the Four Asian Tigers based on international trade and economic globalization, integrating itself within the world economy with export-oriented industrialization. The Fourth Republic was established after the October Restoration of 1972, in which Park wielded absolute power. The Yushin Constitution declared that the president could suspend basic human rights and appoint a third of the parliament. Suppression of the opposition and human rights abuse by the government became more severe in this period. Even after Park's assassination in 1979, the authoritarian rule continued in the Fifth Republic led by Chun Doo-hwan, which violently seized power by two coups and brutally suppressing the Gwangju Uprising. The June Democratic Struggle of 1987 ended authoritarian rule, forming the current Sixth Republic. The country is now considered among the most advanced democracies in Asia.

Administrative Divisions in South Korea

  • The major administrative divisions in South Korea are eight provinces, one special self-governing province, six metropolitan cities (self-governing cities that are not part of any province), one special city and one special self-governing city.
  • South Korea maintains a unitary presidential republic under the 1987 constitution with a unicameral legislature, the National Assembly.
  • It is considered a regional power and a developed country, with its economy ranked as the world's thirteenth-largest by nominal GDP and the fourteenth-largest by GDP (PPP).
  • In recent years, the country has been facing an aging population and the lowest fertility rate in the world.
  • Its citizens enjoy one of the world's fastest Internet connection speeds and densest high-speed railway networks.
  • The country is the world's ninth-largest exporter and ninth-largest importer.
  • Its armed forces are ranked as one of the world's strongest militaries, with the world's second-largest standing army by military and paramilitary personnel.
  • In the 21st century, South Korea has been renowned for its globally influential pop culture, particularly in music, TV dramas, and cinema, a phenomenon referred to as the Korean Wave.
  • It is a member of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, the G20, the IPEF, and the Paris Club.
  • About 3,000 islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea.
  • 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, which begins end of June and lasts through the end of July. Winters can be extremely cold with the minimum temperature dropping below −4 F in the inland region of the country: in Seoul, the average January temperature range is 19 to 34 F, and the average August temperature range is 72 to 86 F.
  • Like many democratic states, South Korea has a government divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. Although South Korea experienced a series of military dictatorships from the 1960s until the 1980s, it has since developed into a successful liberal democracy.
  • Unresolved tension with North Korea has 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, the ROK Armed Forces is one of the largest and most powerful standing armed forces in the world with a reported personnel strength of 3,600,000 in 2022 (500,000 active and 3,100,000 reserve).
  • The United States has stationed a substantial contingent of troops to defend South Korea. There are approximately 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea, most of them serving one year unaccompanied tours.
  • South Korea's population was estimated to be around 50.8 million (2016). The country is noted for its population density, which was an estimated 505 per square kilometer in 2015, more than 10 times the global average. Aside from micro-states and city-states, South Korea is the world's third most densely-populated country. Most South Koreans live in urban areas because of rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
  • The Seoul National Capital Area has 24.5 million inhabitants (about half of South Korea's entire population) making it the world's second largest metropolitan area. Other major cities include Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (3.0 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.4 million), Gwangju (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1.1 million).
  • South Korea is considered one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world with ethnic Koreans representing approximately 96% of total population.
  • South Korea's birth rate was the world's lowest in 2009, at an annual rate of approximately 9 births per 1000 people.
  • South Korea is one of the top-performing Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences with the average student scoring 519, compared with the OECD average of 492, placing it ninth in the world. The country has one of the world's highest-educated labor forces among OECD countries. The country is well known for its highly feverish outlook on education, where its national obsession with education has been called "education fever".
  • Korean is the official language of South Korea and is classified by most linguists as a language isolate. It incorporates a significant number of loan words from Chinese. Korean uses an indigenous writing system called Hangul, created in 1446 by King Sejong, to provide a convenient alternative to the Classical Chinese Hanja characters that were difficult to learn and did not fit the Korean language well. Almost all South Korean students today learn English throughout their education.
  • According to a 2015 census, 27.6% of the population were Christians (19.7% identified themselves as Protestants, 7.9% as Roman Catholics) and 15.5% were Buddhists. Christianity is South Korea's largest organized religion, accounting for more than half of all South Korean adherents of religious organizations. There are approximately 13.5 million Christians in South Korea today; about two thirds of them belonging to Protestant churches, and the rest to the Catholic Church.
  • Life expectancy has been rising rapidly and South Korea ranked 6th in the world for life expectancy at 83.5 years in 2023. It also has the third highest health adjusted life expectancy in the world. Suicide in South Korea is the 12th highest in the world according to the World Health Organization, as well as the highest suicide rate in the OECD.
  • South Korea's mixed economy is the 11th largest GDP at nominal and the 14th largest GDP by purchasing power parity in the world, identifying it as one of the G20 major economies. It is a developed country with a high-income economy and is the most industrialized member country of the OECD. South Korean brands such as LG Electronics and Samsung are internationally famous and garnered South Korea's reputation for its quality electronics and other manufactured goods. Despite the economy's high growth potential and apparent structural stability, the country suffers damage to its credit rating in the stock market because of the belligerence of North Korea in times of deep military crises, which has an adverse effect on its financial markets.
  • Its massive investment in education has taken the country from mass illiteracy to a major international technological powerhouse. The country's national economy benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree.
  • South Korea has a technologically advanced transport network consisting of high-speed railways, highways, bus routes, ferry services, and air routes that crisscross the country.
  • In 2019, more than 17 million foreign tourists visited South Korea.
  • Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables, fish and meats. Traditional meals are noted for the number of side dishes, banchan, which accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal is accompanied by numerous banchan. Kimchi, a fermented, usually spicy vegetable dish is commonly served at every meal and is one of the best known dishes. Korean cuisine usually involves heavy seasoning with sesame oil, doenjang (a type of fermented soybean paste), soy sauce, salt, garlic, ginger, and gochujang (a hot pepper paste). Other well-known dishes are bulgogi, grilled marinated beef; gimbap; and tteokbokki, a spicy snack consisting of rice cake seasoned with gochujang or a spicy chili paste. Soups are also a common part of a meal and are served as part of the main course rather than at the beginning or the end of the meal.
  • Korea is unique among East Asian countries in its use of metal chopsticks. Metal chopsticks have been discovered in Goguryeo archaeological sites.
  • The emergence of the pop group Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992 marked a turning point for South Korean popular music, also known as K-pop. K-pop idols are well known across Continental Asia, have found fame in the Western World, and have generated millions of dollars in export revenue in music markets beyond East Asia. K-pop first began to makes its mark outside of Continental and East Asia following the unexpected success of singer Psy's international music sensation, "Gangnam Style", which topped global music charts in 2012.
  • The martial art taekwondo originated in Korea. Football has traditionally been regarded as the most popular sport in Korea, with baseball as the second. Basketball is a popular sport in the country as well. South Korea has won more medals in the Winter Olympics than any other Asian country, with a total of 45 (23 gold, 14 silver, and 8 bronze).

Both North and South Korea claim complete sovereignty over the entire peninsula and outlying islands. Despite mutual animosity, reconciliation efforts have continued since the initial separation between North and South Korea.

EtymologyThe name Korea is an exonym, although it was derived from a historical kingdom name, Goryeo (Revised Romanization) or Koryŏ (McCune–Reischauer). Goryeo was the shortened name officially adopted by Goguryeo in the 5th century and the name of its 10th-century successor state Goryeo. Visiting Arab and Persian merchants pronounced its name as "Korea". The modern name of Korea appears in the first Portuguese maps of 1568 by João vaz Dourado as Conrai and later in the late 16th century and early 17th century as Korea (Corea) in the maps of Teixeira Albernaz of 1630.

The Korean name "Daehan Minguk" is sometimes used by South Koreans to refer to the Korean ethnicity (or "race") as a whole, rather than just the South Korean state.

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