South Korea Facts

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What is the capital of South Korea?
South Korea’s capital is the city of Seoul. With as many as 10 million people, it is more than three times as large as North Korea’s capital and is growing at a phenomenal rate.

What is the total population of South Korea?
South Korea is estimated to be home to nearly 49 million people.

How big is South Korea?
South Korea takes up around 99,720 square kilometers (or about 38,500 square miles), roughly the size of the U.S. state of Indiana.

What countries border South Korea?
South Korea is bordered only by North Korea, and the two share the most heavily fortified border in the world along the 38th Parallel. Mainland China and Japan are also relatively close to the South Korean coastlines.

What languages are spoken in South Korea?
South Korea is an overwhelmingly homogenous nation both ethnically and linguistically. Nearly all of its citizens speak Korean, a language they share with the North Koreans. English is the most popular second language and is taught widely in schools.

What is the national religion in South Korea?
South Korea grants religious freedom and has no national religion, although Buddhism and Christianity are both powerful presences.Traditional beliefs such as Confucianism have few exclusive practitioners but are known to form a strong cultural basis for their society. Currently, a slight majority of South Koreans do not consider themselves to be religious at all, but religious devotion of all kinds still has a stronger presence there than in many other East Asian countries. Religion in South Korea is associated with progress and nationalism, and many religions that lose adherents or remain stagnant worldwide can find themselves growing in South Korea (such is the case with Roman Catholicism). South Korea is also a thriving center of several newer religions that combine the spiritual ideas of older faiths, such as the Cheondoist or “Heavenly Way” philosophy.

What is the form of government in South Korea?
South Korea (officially called the Republic of Korea) is a constitutional democracy. It has supposedly always been this way, but in reality it has been ruled by a series of military authoritarians for most of its history. However, pro-freedom activists were able to make continual gains over the decades, and South Korea has been a legitimate democracy since the late 1980s. Their current head of state is President Moon Jae-in, she is the first women president of South Korea and a former Foreign Minister, Ban Ki-moon, is now the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Why is there a North and a South Korea?
Korea was once a unified kingdom until it was split in two in 1945, with the northern half to be administered by the Soviet Union and the southern half by the United States. Japan had brutally occupied the country since 1910, but with its defeat by Allied forces after World War II, there was some disagreement as to what new direction the country would take. The Soviet Union and the U.S. were already beginning to grow suspicious of one another, and each set up a different government in their respective halves of the Korean Peninsula. Although the ultimate goal was supposed to be unification, it proved to be impossible to reconcile the two states. Eventually the communist regime in North Korea, helped by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, invaded the South. This sparked the Korean War and put an end to any hopes of creating a single, unified Korea.

What was the Korean War?
The Korean War officially started when North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950, although tensions had been building for several years. The Korean War was a proxy war, meaning that both sides were supported and encouraged by outside powers. This was the first major military conflict in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union (during which neither of these world powers would confront one another directly). Although the fighting lasted for three years and killed several million people, there was ultimately little change in the territorial boundaries. An armistice, signed in 1953, did not officially end the war but did put an end to the military battles. As of now, both North Korea and South Korea believe that the Korean Peninsula must be unified under their own rule, and the situation remains tense.

Last Updated on: October 13th, 2017