South Korea

South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (or ROK) and often referred to as Korea , is a country in the center of East Asia, occupying the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its Korean name means “The Great Nation of the Korean People,” sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Morning Calm.” It is bordered by North Korea to the north (with which it was united until 1945), China to the west and Japan to the east. The capital and largest city is Seoul, the world’s second largest metropolitan city.

Korea is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with its foundation dating back to 2333 BC by the legendary Dangun Wanggeom. Archaeological research shows that Koreans inhabited the peninsula as early as the Lower Paleolithic. Following the unification of the Three Korean Kingdoms under Silla in 668 AD, Korea went through the Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty as one nation until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910. Since division and establishment of the modern republic in 1948, South Korea struggled initially with the aftermath of Japanese invasion (1910–1945) and the Korean war (1950–1953). However, as the standard of living and income rose considerably in the 1980s, nationwide protests led to the collapse of the authoritarian regime in 1987, and direct and fair elections have been held every 5 years thereafter. Today, it is an established pioneer of democracy in Asia, with one of the highest levels of civil liberties and political rights in the world.[2]

South Korea is a major global economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It had one of the most successful and fastest growing economies in the world since the 1960s, now highly developed and the third largest[3] in Asia and 12th largest[4] in the world. Forming the G20 industrial nations, it is defined as a High Income Nation by the World Bank and an Advanced Economy by the IMF and CIA. One of the world’s top 10 exporters, it has the world’s sixth largest foreign exchange reserves and is a military power with the world’s sixth largest armed forces and tenth highest defence budget. A founding member of APEC, it joined the OECD in 1996, a milestone in its development history. In the late 20th century, many people called it an Asian Tiger and a NIC due to its reputation for strong economic growth. Still among the world’s fastest growing developed countries[5], it is a Next Eleven state, expected to surpass the income per head of Germany, UK and France in less than a decade.[6] Today, its success story is known as the “Miracle on the Han River”, a role model for many developing countries.[7] Global recognition of the country and its goods & services was enhanced by the hosting of the 1988 Summer Olympics and further boosted by the co-hosting of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

South Korea is one of the world’s leading countries in science and technology and in a heated competition with Japan in many global industries. It has a strong focus on education, with the world’s highest estimated national IQ, ranked first in mathematics, science, problem solving and reading by the OECD.[8] Boasting the world’s most advanced IT infrastructure, it is the world’s most wired nation and the only country with nationwide DMB, WiBro and 100Mbit/s Broadband.[9] It is a world leader in information technology such as electronics, LCD displays, semiconductors, computers, cell phones and high-tech gadgets, lead by Samsung and LG. Home of the world’s third largest steel producer, POSCO, it is the world’s largest shipbuilder and one of the world’s top 5 automobile makers, headed by Hyundai and Kia. It is the world’s leading construction contractor, having built the world’s tallest buildings such as the Burj Dubai and Taipei 101. Other world leading areas include biotechnology and robotics, with the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, the world’s second humanoid robot, HUBO and the world’s second android, EveR-1.

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