Often referred to as the “Land of the Morning Calm,” Korea has a population of 48.74 million (2009) and a total land area of 100,032 ㎢ (2008). Located at a major crossroads of Northeast Asia, it has also achieved the “Miracle of the Han River .” As early as the 1960s, when the country's five-year economic development plan was first implemented, the Korean economy has relentlessly shown signs of exponential growth.
From 1962 to 2005, the country's GNI surged from US$2.3 billion to a staggering US$786.8 billion. The 1997 East Asian foreign currency crisis was only a temporary set-back for the Korean economy. The GNI stagnated at US$340.4 in 1998 but soon began to advance again, soaring to US$955.8 billion by 2007.
Years of rapid economic development propelled the country into becoming the world's 12th largest trading partner. Korea's industrial base shifted from agriculture to manufacturing and is now shifting to services. A global force in a number of significant industries, including automobiles, petrochemicals, electronics, shipbuilding, textiles, and steel, Korea 's GDP expanded 5.0% in 2007 and 2.5% in 2008. GDP in 2007 totaled US$969.8 billion, making the country the 14th largest economy.
Since 2004, Korean-made semi-conductors, automobiles, and wireless telecom devices have accounted for over 30% of the country's total trade volume. Exports of IT products have risen every year since 1998 and reached US$82.5 billion, or 29.5% of total exports, in 2005. Major IT export items include memory chips, mobile phones, LCD monitors, PCs, and satellite broadcasting receivers. Korea 's semi-conductor industry, in particular, has achieved tremendous growth over the past two decades and is the third largest in the world.
The system of government in Korea is based on a system of checks and balances between the executive branch, the legislature, and the judiciary. The president is elected directly for a single five-year-term. South Korea’s 17th president, Lee Myung-Bak, was sworn in to office on February 25, 2008. Overcoming many obstacles throughout his youth, Lee garnered enormous success in both his business and political career. Shortly after joining Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd, he soon earned the title of CEO and led the company through years of continued prosperity. From 2002 to 2006, he was successively appointed the governor of Seoul, and on December 19, 2007, won the presidential bid with an unprecedented 48.7% of the vote.
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If you have an onward ticket visitors from almost anywhere - except countries not recognised by South Korea (Cuba, Laos and Cambodia) – you can stay in the country for 30 days without a visa. If you're from Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand, you can get up to 90 days visa-free. Canadians receive a six-month permit and citizens of Italy and Portugal receive 60-day permits. Everyone else has to extend after their first 30 days.
Note:Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate before leaving home.
Visitors are allowed to import duty-free, for their personal use, 1 litre of spirits, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of pipe tobacco, 100 grams of snuff, 100 grams of brick tobacco (or any combination of the above tobacco within 500 grams limit), 60 millilitres of perfume and gifts up to W300,000.
Watches, cameras, jewellery, precious metals, jewels, and furs that are not declared upon entry will be subject to tax upon departure. Departure tax is W8,000 per person.
Crafts, sculptures, paintings, etc. must be evaluated by the Art and Antiques Assessment Office in Kimpo, Tel. +82 (2) 662-0106, or Tel. +82 (2) 664-8997, before you leave. Items considered to be of cultural value will be retained by South Korea.
Currency and Money Matters
The basic unit of currency is the won (W). Notes are available in denominations of W1,000, 5,000 and 10,000, and coins are denominated as follows: W10, 50, 100 and 500.
Banking Hours are Monday-Friday 9:30 am-5 pm.
Foreign Currency and Traveller's Cheques can be exchanged at banks in large towns and cities, but can be difficult to change in rural areas. Remember to keep a good supply of cash on hand for weekends (when banks are closed).
Credit Cards are widely accepted in large department stores and hotels, but will not be accepted by many smaller shops in either the cities or in rural areas.
A value-added tax of 10% is included in the price of most goods, and a few services.
Don't tip, it’s often considered degrading (the service charge is generally included in the bill), but do give a slight bow and say thank you. Hotel porters, however, customarily receive a bit of change, as do taxi drivers-but only if they assist with the luggage.
Shopping Hours at department stores are usually 10:30 AM-7:30 PM, including Sundays (though they close for one day during the week). Smaller shops keep hours of 8:30 AM-6 PM (though some remain open even longer), and are open most days of the week.
Avoid tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected (e.g. with iodine tablets); only eat fresh fruit and vegetables that’s been cooked or peeled; be wary of dairy products that might contain un-pasteurised milk, and be highly selective when eating food from street vendors. If you develop diarrhoea, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, preferably an oral re-hydration solution containing lots of salt and sugar.
The Korean language is spoken by its more than 65 million people living on the peninsula and its outlying islands. It is a crucial factor in their strong national identity. Korea has several different dialects but they are similar enough that they have no trouble at all understanding each other.
Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Korean peninsula has been divided by a de-militarised zone separating the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north from the Republic of Korea in the south. While peace has been maintained under an Armistice Agreement, political tensions have the potential to escalate with little warning. Demonstrations are frequent and may turn violent.
The Republic of Korea has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths for a developed country. There is a strong presumption that car drivers are at fault in accidents involving injury to pedestrians. Criminal charges and heavy penalties are common in accidents involving injury.
Emergencies: Throughout the country, call 112 for police and 119 for the fire department or to summon an ambulance.
Local laws and legal processes can be very different from those in your home country. A violation of local laws may result in a jail sentence, served in a local prison. Consular assistance cannot override local law, even where local laws may appear harsh or unjust by your home country’s standards.
The Republic of Korea does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of some country officials to provide consular assistance to those with dual nationality such as an Australian/Republic of Korea dual national who is arrested or detained.
Some criminal laws, including - but not limited to - those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child sex tourism, have extraterritorial effect. Anyone who commits such offences outside of their home country may be prosecuted for those offences.
The international telephone access code is 82. The area code for Seoul is 02, for Pusan 051, for Kwangju 062, and for Taejon 042. Omit the 0 if calling from abroad. To place an outgoing direct-dialled international call, dial 001 or 002 plus the country code and number. To reach an international operator, dial 0077, and for local directory assistance, dial 114.
In Korea, especially at restaurants other than 4 star establishments, you may want to order your meat to be cooked a little more than you usually would. If you like your steak medium, order it medium well, if rare then order medium rare, etc. Chefs will generally take your meat off the grill a little early if you don’t request this.
Banks and most businesses close on New Year's Day and the day after (1-2 January), Lunar New Year (three days in January or February; dates vary), Independence Movement Day (1 March), Arbor Day (5 April), Children's Day (5 May), Buddha's Birthday (May; date of celebration varies), Memorial Day (6 June), Constitution Day (17 July), Liberation Day (15 August), Ch'usok, or the Harvest Moon Festival, also known as Korean Thanksgiving (celebrated for three days in September or October; dates vary), National Foundation Day (3 October), and Christmas Day (25 December).
The current is either 110 or 220 volts AC, 60 Hz. You'll find plugs with two flat pins (110 volts) or with two round pins (220 volts). Visitors from abroad who wish to operate personal small electronic items, should bring a plug adapter and a transformer
Entering Buddhist Temples
You can enter Buddhist temples even if a service is under way. Enter through a side door, leave your shoes by the door and sit down at the side of the hall. Don't sit or stand directly in front of the main Buddha image.
Do and Don`t in South Korea
Don't wear shorts, jeans or sandals when visiting Panmunjeom as you will be barred from entering. "Unkempt or shaggy hair" is also forbidden so tie it up or cover it. And when you are at Freedom Pavilion, don't wave at, point to or attempt to communicate in any way with North Korean border guards. Generally it’s preferred that smart casual dress is worn in all areas where respect should be shown, such as the above or Buddhist temples etc.
Don't write a Korean's name in red ink. This indicates that the person is deceased.
Don't expect apologies when pushed or jostled in the street. It may be disconcerting to visitors, but Koreans view this as an unavoidable consequence of living in a densely populated country.
Do use both hands when giving something to a Korean (especially elderly Koreans or authorities).
Do be prepared to use chopsticks - forks will be hard to come by outside of Seoul, though spoons are used to eat rice.
Pour drinks for others and allow them to pour for you - it's impolite to pour your own drink.
Don't forget to remove shoes prior to entering private homes or even your own hotel room if you're staying in a traditional lodging.
Do keep currency-exchange receipts to change money back when leaving.
Do plan on being either the guest or the host if dining with a Korean – going ‘Dutch’ (where everyone pays for themselves) is not done. Usually the eldest person buys.
Don't leave your camera or anything else that's heat-sensitive on the floor if you're staying in traditional housing or hotels with floor heating. Koreans heat their buildings via pipes embedded in the concrete floor and some major meltdown might occur if you are not standing by.
Don't blow your nose in public - Koreans find it disgusting. If the need arises, slip off to the restroom or find another private spot.
Do be cautious if what you're eating is covered with bits of green peppers. Some of the peppers are so hot they will make your insides burn for hours if you are not used to them.
Take a small gift when invited into a Korean home.
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Korea has had a long history dating back to 2,333 B.C. This section follows the History of Korea from the prehistoric age to its current era.
The Prehistoric Age
Archaeological findings have indicated that the first settlements on the Korean Peninsula occurred 700,000 years ago.
Gojoseon (2333 - 108 B.C.)
According to legend, the mythical figure Dan-gun founded Gojoseon, the first Korean Kingdom, in 2333 B.C. Subsequently, several tribes moved from the southern part of Manchuria to the Korean Peninsula.
The Three Kingdoms Period (57 B.C. - A.D. 676)
The Three Kingdoms refers to a period of time (early 4th to mid-7th centuries A.D.) marked by the struggle of three rival kingdoms: Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla over the territory spanning the Korean peninsula and part of Northeastern Asia.
The Unified Silla (676-935)
The Unified Silla Kingdom promoted the development of culture and arts, and the popularity of Buddhism reached its peak during this period. The Unified Silla Kingdom declined because of contention for supremacy among the noble classes, and was annexed by Goryeo in 935.
The Balhae Kingdom began to emerge just as the Goguryeo kingdom was on the verge of collapsing. Goguryeo General, Dae Joyeong founded Balhae along with his army of displaced peoples. At one point, Balhae became so powerful that it was able to acquire territories in northern and eastern parts of China. At those times, the Tang Dynasty of China referred to Balhae as 'the strong country by the sea in the east.' The significance of the Balhae Kingdom is greatly inherited from Goguryeo, including the land that it was able to retrieve.
The Goryeo Dynasty (918 - 1392)
The Goryeo Dynasty was established in 918. Buddhism became the state religion during this time and greatly influenced politics and culture. Famous items produced during this time include Goryeo celadon and the Tripitaka Koreana. Jikjisimgyeong, Buddhist scripture printed with the world's first movable metal type developed in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, is at least 78 years older than the first Gutenberg Bible.
The Goryeo Dynasty's strength decreased gradually in the latter half of the 14th century.
The Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910)
The Joseon Dynasty was formed at the end of the 14th century. Confucianism became the state ideology and exerted a massive influence over the whole of society. The Joseon Dynasty produced Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which was invented in 1443, during the reign of King Sejong. The dynasty's power declined later because of foreign invasions, beginning with the Japanese invasion of 1592.
The Japanese Colonial Period (1910 - 1945)
In 1876, the Joseon Dynasty was forced to adopt an open-door policy regarding Japan. The Japanese annexation of Korea concluded in 1910, and Korean people had to suffer under Japanese colonial rule until the surrender of Japan in 1945, which ended World War II.
Establishment of the Korean Government (1945-1948)
Korea was liberated from Japanese oppression on August 15, 1945, but it soon faced the tragic division of North and South along the 38th parallel. Both regions were placed under temporary military rule by the U.S. and Soviet armies. In 1948 with the help of the United Nations, South Korea held an election on May 10th and elected Dr. Rhee Syngman president. On August 15th of that same year, an official declaration was made about the birth of the South Korean government. On the other hand, North Korea formed the Provisional People’s Committee for North Korea, led by Kim Il-sung, in February 1946. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was officially founded.
The Korean War (1950-1953)
In the early hours of June 25th, 1950, North Korea attempted a forcible unification of North and South Korea by invading South Korea over the 38th parallel. In response, military help from over 16 nations helped defend South Korea against the threat of communism under the leadership of UN General Douglas MacArthur. China and the Soviet Union lent their military might to North Korea. The war continued over the next 3 years until coming to an end on July 27th 1953, with a peace agreement signed at Panmunjeom, located in the DMZ. Not only did the war ravage the peninsula, it also heightened hostile sentiments between the North and South, making reunification a difficult task.
The Aftermath of War (1954-Current)
The Rhee Syngman government focused on an anti-communist approach to government beginning in 1954, but in 1960 the government's power collapsed with the student's anti-government movement, the 4.19 Revolution. In 1963, Park Chung-hee was elected president and ruled with a controversial iron fist for the next 17 years. President Park Chung-hee's 'Saemaeul Undong' (New Community Movement, an effort to modernize Korea that began in 1970) brought about much progress in South Korea, and the systematic approach to economic development also yielded increased exports and positive returns. But with the democratic movement in progress and the citizens becoming wary of such extended rule, Park Chung-hee's life ended in a 1979 assassination. Afterwards in 1980, Chun Doo-hwan came to power and continued to lead the nation with an authoritarian slant as had been the case with former rulers. His rule came to an end in 1987 after massive protests across the country demanded democracy. In 1988 the Roh Tae-woo government started off the year on a good note by successfully hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His government went on to join the UN in 1991. The Kim Young-sam government which began in 1993 implemented a new system in which people were required to use their real names when making financial transactions, a much needed revolution at the time. In 1998, Kim Dae-jung was elected president and threw his efforts into overcoming the IMF financial catastrophe that hit Asia in 1997, and also hosted the 17th FIFA World Cup in 2002. President Kim Dae-jung was also the winner of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his Sunshine Policy regarding North Korea. President Rho Moo-hyun's term began in 2003 aiming, to achieve economic growth, and develop Korea as the hub of Asia with a more democratic style of leadership.
On the other hand, North Korea has been ruled by Kim Jeong-il since the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994. Faced with dire economic situations, North Korea has begun to implement partial free trade in an effort to remedy the situation.
North and South Korea jointly signed an agreement on July 4th, 1972 concerning the reunification of the two Koreas, and in 2000 Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jeong-il took early steps to explore reunification, improve the economy, and solve the problem of separated families. The family reunification program, started in 1985, and continues to this day. In 1998, South Korean citizens began to be admitted into North Korea to tour the Geumgangsan Diamond Mountains.
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Korea has four seasons, with a wet monsoon/summer season in the middle of the year, and a cold winter from November to March. The island of Jeju off the southern coast is the warmest and wettest place in the country. The ideal time to visit Korea is during the autumn months (September-November). During this time, the country experiences warm, sunny weather, skies that are cobalt blue and spectacular foliage that is perhaps the biggest draw. Winters are cold and dry and are a good time to visit if you are interested in winter sports as there are numerous ski resorts. Spring (April-May) is also beautiful with all the cherry blossoms in bloom. However, it is very busy and one needs to book in advance to ensure accommodation is available. The summer months are muggy and hot, and rather crowded. It is also when the monsoon season begins so many activities are subject to the fluctuations of heavy rain.
Spring lasts from late March to May and is warm. Various flowers, including the picturesque cherry blossom, cover the nation's mountains and fields during this time.
Summer lasts from June to early September. It is a hot and humid time of the year.
Autumn lasts from September to November, and produces mild weather. It is the best season to visit Korea.
Winter lasts from December to mid-March. It can be bitterly cold during this time due to the influx of cold Siberian air. Heavy snow in the northern and eastern parts of Korea makes for favorable skiing conditions.
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Korean food is referred to in Korean as Hansik. While many other Asian ethnic foods such as Chinese or Japanese food have become popular throughout the world, Korean food has yet to reach its peak. The Korean government is crusading for the globalization of hansik in cooperation with companies, civic groups and the mass media. As the people of the world gain a better understanding of Korean food, its flavors, and its roots, Korean food will undoubtedly become a global commodity like the food of Korea’s neighbors.
The key to Hansik is fermentation. Every nation has their unique fermented foods such as cheese, yogurt or natto. There are many kinds of fermented foods in Korean cuisine. The purpose of fermentation is to purposely break down foods into more digestible components through the natural use of the bacteria that exists all around us. Unlike food simply going bad, fermentation represents a useful and practical change. So the Korean says not sseokhinda (to be spoiled) but “sakhinda” (to be fermented). The expression is based on the concept of in-depth understanding on fermentation. The quintessential fermented food of hansik is kimchi, and although there are hundreds of different kinds, the most internationally well known is spicy fermented cabbage. When meeting someone who has never encountered kimchi before, Koreans may introduce its as a type of salad, a kind of salad made using spices, red peppers, salt, garlic and oriental cabbage, sauerkraut with a kick, if you will. But this simple explanation leaves out the most important variable, that of fermentation, which is the entire key to how a particular batch of kimchi might taste. The kimchi that is preferred most by Korean people contains salted shrimp or anchovies and has aged underground for at least a year in a jangdokdae (large clay jar). Like a fine wine, the process of aging gives kimchi its deep taste.
Koreans express a well-aged kimchi as being "ripe". The verb of "ripe' is often used for fruits. However, the Korean use it also for many kinds of fermented food. As with fruit, edible after the process of blooming, growing and ripening on the tree, in the same way, kimchi is allowed to develop its own complexities of taste over a long period of time. The very idea of kimchi embodies the notion of extended waiting.
Visitors to Korea will discover a wide array of unique and delicious Korean food.
Korea was once a primarily agricultural nation, and since ancient times rice has been cultivated as Koreans' staple food. These days Korean food also contains a large variety of meat and fish dishes along with wild greens and vegetables. Various preserved Korean food, such as kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage), jeotgal (seafood fermented in salt) and doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) are particularly popular due to their distinctive flavor and high nutritional value.
In Korean food all the dishes are served at the same time. A typical meal normally includes rice, soup, and several side dishes, the number of which vary. Traditionally, lower classes had three side dishes, while royal families would have twelve.
In Korea, like in neighboring China and Japan, people eat with chopsticks. However, a spoon is used more often in Korea, especially when soups are served. Formal rules have developed for table setting, which can vary depending on whether a noodle or meat dish is served. Food is a very important part of Korea culture, and Koreans pay great attention to the way in which food is served.
Different Kinds of Traditional Korean Food
1. Bap (steamed rice) and Juk (porridge)
Boiled rice is the staple food for Koreans, it is eaten with almost every meal. In Korea people eat short-grained rice, as apposed to the long- grained Indian rice. Korean rice is often sticky in texture, and sometimes it is combined with beans, chestnuts, sorghum, red beans, barley or other cereals for added flavor and nutrition.
Juk (porridge) is a light meal, which is highly nutritious. Juk is often made with rice, to which abalone, ginseng, pine nuts, vegetables, chicken, or bean sprouts can be added. As well as rice porridge, red bean porridge and pumpkin porridge are also delicious.
2. Guk (soup)
Korean meals traditionally consist of a soup served with rice. The soup can be made from vegetables, meat, fish, shellfish, seaweed, or beef bones.
3. Jjigae (stew)
Jjigae is similar to guk but is thicker and has a stronger taste. The most famous jjigae (doenjang-jjigae )is made from preserved soy bean paste. Jjigae is usually spicy and served piping hot in a heated stone bowl.
4. Jjim and Jorim (simmered meat or fish)
Jjim and jorim are similar dishes. Meat and fish are prepared with vegetables and soaked in soy bean sauce. The ingredients are then slowly boiled over a low heat.
5. Namul (vegetables or wild greens)
Namul consists of vegetables of wild greens, which have been slightly boiled or fried, and mixed with salt, soy sauce, sesame salt, sesame oil, garlic, onions, and other spices.
6. Jeotgal (seafood fermented in salt)
Jeotgal is a very salty food made from naturally preserved fish, shellfish, shrimp, oysters, fish roe, intestines and other ingredients.
7. Gui (broiled/barbecued dishes)
Gui is when marinated fish or meat are barbecued over a charcoal fire. The most popular gui dishes are meats, such as bulgogi and galbi, however, there are also many fish dishes which are cooked this way.
8. Jeon (pan-fried dishes)
Jeon is a kind of Korean pancake. Mushrooms, pumpkin, slices of dried fish, oysters, unripened red peppers, meat, or other ingredients are mixed with salt and black pepper, dipped in flour and egg and then fried in oil.
9. Mandu (dumpling)
Mandu are Korean dumplings, which are stuffed with beef, mushrooms, stir-fried zucchini, and mungbean sprouts. Pork, chicken, fish or kimchi are sometimes used instead of beef.
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Gangnam: A Shopper’s Paradise
Seoul has plenty of places for shopping, such as Myeongdong and Dongdaemun, but if you are passionate about fashion and looking for something hip and unique, then follow the example of Seoul’s trendsetters and head to Gangnam.
Korea’s Outlet Stores: These Days the Bargains are Bigger than Ever!
Keen shoppers are always on the look out for a great bargain, and in Korea, shoppers in the know, head to the outlet shopping centers, where brand items are on sale for discounted prices.
Shopping for Souvenirs at Insa-dong
A trip to Insadong offers an immediate immersion into Korean culture. This lively, charming area of downtown Seoul is filled with restaurants and traditional teahouses. A trip to Insadong offers an immediate immersion into Korean culture.
Dongdaemun Night Market
Seoul has numerous popular shopping locations such as Myeong-dong, Ehwa University, and Itaewon. However, Korea’s most well known and probably best shopping location is Dongdaemun, which is packed with eager shoppers browsing the wholesale and retail...
Discover Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun Market is one of Korea’s historic institutions. It is has been operating ever since the 1400’s, and is well-known for stocking an incredibly diverse selection of goods.
COEX – Shopping In The Underworld
Located in the business district of Samseong-dong, the underground complex of the COEX Mall is Seoul’s largest shopping center.
A Woman’s World – Ewha’s Pull On Youngsters After The Latest Trend
Seoul has a fine variety of premium shopping districts that carry a wide selection of goods for both men and women – items ranging from cosmetics and handbags to sports apparel and hats.
Dongdaemun – From Traditional Market To Fashion Giant
The urban sprawl of Dongdaemun draws in huge numbers of shoppers at all hours of the day. Quite simply, it is Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district, boasting a staggering twenty-six shopping malls.
Hongdae Hedonism – A Haven For Young Fashion Experts
Hongdae remains a great place to spend the day soaking in the entertainment and grabbing the best deals. If outdoors is where you want to be, rather than indoors inside goliath shopping malls, then jump on the subway and mark this stop in your itiner...
Insa-dong : Stroll Through History For All Things Traditional
Shopping in and around the areas of Insadong and Samcheong-dong is a truly unique experience, and one very different from the congested neighboring areas of Namdaemun, Dongdaemun and Myeong-dong. Gone are the flickering neon lights, teeming stalls an...
Samcheong dong- Pleasant surprises at every turn
The Samcheong-dong Walkway is known for its famous art galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, wine bars and craft shops all in a sort of fusion of traditional and modern styles.
Namdaemun – Traditional Treasures At Every Corner
One of Korea’s largest and most popular traditional markets, Namdaemun is an absolute haven for street shoppers.
Apgujeong & Cheongdam – High End Shopping In Seoul’s Trendiest Areas
It’s quite possible that the affluent areas of Apgujeong and Cheongdam may not boast as wide a selection of shops as, say, Myeongdong, their neighboring counterpart.
Yeoju Premium Outlets, Korea ‘s 1st Luxury Premium Outlet
Shinsegae Chelsea Premium Outlets, Korea’s first designer’s shopping outlet center, has opened in the Yeoju province. The Yeoju Preumium Outlet Shopping Center is enormous, taking up 265,500 square meters, and is Asia’s 2nd largest outlet to Japan’s ...
Shopping in Apgujeong : Affluence in Abundance
To Fit In or Not To Fit In - Apgujeong Equally Fun For To-Be-Seensters and Window Shoppers By far one of Seoul’s leading stylishly affluent hubs, Apgujeong never fails to impress. Whether wandering through the myriad fashionable boutiques nestled ...
Itaewon – Seoul’s Melting Pot of Fashionable Shops and Boutiques
Itaewon is where the cultures of east and west collide. It remains Seoul’s largest multicultural district and is a virtual magnet for shoppers on the hunt for styles and sizes reminiscent to what they would find back home.
Finding What You Need at Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Center
Nina Garcia, Fashion director of Elle magazine and the author of “The Little Black Book of Style” says being stylish is “not about money”.
Myeong-dong – A Mecca For Shoppers
Myeong-dong is all about shopping. From the towering super stores of Migliore, Lotte Department Store, Avatar and High Harriet to the cozy, lesser-known individual shops lining the neon lit side streets.
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Asian countries have been doing exchanges through culture and trade throughout history. Trends spread throughout the region at an incredibly fast rate. The 80's were a time for “Hong Kong Noir” while the 90's were more an age of Japanese animation. The 2000s have seen a sharp rise in the popularity of Korean culture, with music and dramas hitting all the right notes. Interest in Korea, triggered by the success of leading Korean dramas and popular music, continues to escalated to include a host of other aspects of Korean culture, such as hangeul (Korean alphabet), hansik (Korean food), hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), hanok (traditional Korean houses), hanji (traditional Korean paper), as well as Korean music. In Korea, the aforementioned six cultural symbols are collectively referred to as “Han Style”.
The Korean Wave that swept its way through Asia starting with dramas and popular music is now achieving even far greater appeal in the international market. As it continues to evolve it enriches the image of Han Style.
Hangeul: The Korean alphabet, a very scientific writing system that has been designated by UNESCO as an important part of the Memory of the World Heritage. As a result of the Korean Wave and Korea 's economic prosperity, the desire to learn hangeul and the Korean language is exploding.
Hansik: Korean food continues to gain popularity throughout the world for its incredible health benefits.
Hanbok: The focus of attention when Daejanggeum (Jewel in the Palace), a TV drama on royal court cuisine, became popular in Asia. Modifications of the exquisite colors and designs of the hanbok are also used as motifs in all Korean-style designs.
Hanok: Many international visitors are showing interest in the traditional Korean home, hanok as they want to experience ondol, the Korean floor heating system very effective in the cold winter. Ondol is an important aspect of Korea' s unique architectural style, and brought floor heating into vogue globally.
Hanji: A traditional form of paper that can last for over one thousand years and is known for its outstanding quality and elegant designs. The paper is drawing attention not only for record-keeping purposes but also for interior decoration and for it’s uses in paper wrapping.
Hanguk Eumak: Traditional Korean music that has slow-rhythm and sentimental lyrics that epitomize the sad history of Korea. Such unique Korean sentiments had significant influence on Korean popular music and drama and are an important driver of the Korean Wave.
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The Korean Peninsula is located in North-East Asia. It is bordered by the Amnok River (Yalu River) to the northwest, separating Korea from China, and the Duman River (Tumen River) to the northeast which separates Korea from both China and Russia. The country itself is flanked by the Yellow Sea to its west and the East Sea to the east. There are several notable islands that surround the peninsula including Jeju-do, Ulleung-do and Dok-do (Liancourt Rocks).
The Korean peninsula is roughly 1,030 km (612 miles) long and 175 km (105 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Korea's total land area is 100,140 sq km, and it has a population of 48.7 million people (2009). Because of its unique geographical location, Korea is a very valuable piece of land and an international hub of Asia.
Mountains cover 70% of Korea's land mass, making it one of the most mountainous regions in the world. The lifting and folding of Korea’s granite and limestone base create a breathtaking landscape of scenic hills and valleys. The mountain range that stretches along the length of the east coast falls steeply into the East Sea, while along the southern and western coasts, the mountains descend gradually to the coastal plains that produce the bulk of Korea’s agricultural crops, especially rice.
Division of the 38th Parallel
The Korean peninsula is divided just slightly north of the 38th parallel. The Democratic Republic of Korea in the south and the communist government of North Korea are separated by a demilitarized zone.
|Geographic position - Between 33˚ and 43˚ north latitude, and 124˚ and 131˚ east longitude (including North Korea)
|Highest mountains in S. Korea - Hallasan on Jeju Island, 1,950 meters (6,400 ft); Jirisan, 1,915 meters (6,283 ft); and Seoraksan, 1,708 meters (5,604 ft)
|Rivers - Nakdonggang, 522 km (324 miles); Hangang, 494 km (307 miles); Geumgang, 396 km (246 miles)
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