South Korea takes a tiny portion of East Asia but ironically takes the world’s attention by storm because of the richness of its culture. The country dwells in a 100,210 square kilometer territory at the bottom part of the Korean peninsula. It has 3500 islands off its coast, eight provinces, and home to 51 million natives and foreigners combined.
The country is also referred to as the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’ inspired by its calm waters and scenic natural resources. South Korea is beautifully surrounded by Gyeonggi Bay, Yellow Sea, Jeju Strait, Korea Strait, and Japan’s Sea.
South Korea is 80% mountainous, and it can be very humid in the summer. They have four seasons where winters are usually long. Most travelers recommend visiting the country during the spring season of April to June, where the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. There are also several festivals held during the season, mostly in crowded National Parks.
In 1948, South Korea gained its independence, and there has been a lot of development since then. It reigns as one of the first world countries including Canada, Japan, United States, and other European countries. It is also the highest-earning country in Asia.
The powerhouse of Leading-Edge Technology
South Korea is the powerhouse of cutting-edge technologies. You have probably heard of these giant companies – LG, Lotte, Daewoo, KIA, and Samsung flourishing in the world market. The well-built collaboration of the South Korean government and the academic institutions normalize South Korea in being on top of the global innovation.
South Korea consistently holds the spot of having the fastest internet in Asia with 28.6 megabits per second (Mbps) since its transition to enhance it back in 2005.
Historically Illustrious Sites
It is incredible how there are several heritage sites in South Korea. It has 11 heritage sites that are recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Among the historical spots of South Korea are:
- Baekje Historic Areas
- Changdeokgung Palace Complex
- Gyeongju Historic Areas
- Haeinsa Temple and Janggyeong Panjeon
- Yangdong and Hahoe Historical Villages
- Hwaseong Fortress
- Jeju Volcanic Island
- Jongmyo Shrine
- Namhansanseong Fortress
- Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
- Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple
The world’s largest indoor theme park can also be found in South Korea, the Lotte Indoor Theme Park. Meanwhile, the 5th tallest tower in the world, the Lotte World Tower, can also be located in its remarkable city of Seoul.
Korean Markets and Delectable Dishes
Street markets are the best way to discover the richness of the nation’s food sector and the local’s way of life. South Korea has various markets across the country where fresh produce is being sold from fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, bread, souvenirs, etc. Among the most visited markets are Dongdaemun market and Busan’s fish market.
Street foods are also rampant in the alleyways of South Korea. Often served are the tasty Tteokbokki, Odeng (also known as fish cake) and Corn Dog, and other variations of Korean street foods. A typical Korean meal includes kimchi, rice, veggies, and meat (or fish).
The usual foods in South Korea are Kimchi, Bulgogi, Bibimbap, Jajangmyeon, and Bingsu. Koreans are also fond of exotic dishes. They eat live squirming octopuses drizzled with sauce. The plate is called San-nakji.
South Korea’s transport system is the KTX (Korea Train Express), and it is also a high-speed system. They impressively have variations of Korean trains: the KTX, ITX (Intercity eXpress – semi-fast), SRT (Super Rapid Train), and the most common train Mugunghwa.
People can buy tickets on apps, websites, and train stations. Express and Intercity buses are also available, which usually do stopovers for toilet breaks.
The K-Pop Culture and Beauty Obsession
In the 2000s, South Korea started to dominate the world’s attention in terms of entertainment. It is the birthplace of today’s famous K-pop group BTS, EXO, Blackpink, and many others bringing Korean music and drama as a global phenomenon.
With so much exposure to a typical K-pop icon, South Koreans became obsessed with skincare, makeup, and beauty. Even men put on a little makeup to maintain their appearance.
Since they have the most advanced technology, safe and efficient plastic surgeries are made possible in South Korea. The country is tagged as the world’s surgery capital. Girls often receive plastic surgery as their graduation presents from parents.
Plastic surgery plays a significant role in the economy of South Korea. According to Washington Post, South Korea has more than 2000 plastic surgeons increasing the medical tourism revenue to $453 million from 2009 to 2012 alone–a trend directly proportional to the booming K-pop culture.
South Korean Norms and Values
Understanding the people of South Korea is paramount to connect with the Korean culture deeply. There are some other norms, values, and few facts about South Koreans and their country:
- All men are required to serve the military when they reached 18 up to 35 years of age. Serving the military lasts for two years. Women can also volunteer.
- Refusing drinks in South Korea means you don’t want to hang out or be friends with them.
- In public transports, seats for older people cannot be taken even if there’s no one sitting.
- Showing respect means receiving things using both hands. South Koreans are all about respect, and receiving something in one hand may seem to be rude for them.
- Living in South Korea is cheaper than living in Singapore and Japan.
- Koreans love karaoke, bathhouses, and hanging out but also respect solitude.
- South Korea is a safe country to live in.
- Sharing is crucial. Whether it is a side dish or the main course, sharing is an integral part of Korean culture. South Koreans build relationships through food.
There’s absolutely a lot of exciting things to learn about the South Korean culture, and the good thing is that other than traveling, their upbringing is being imparted worldwide through their food, music, and drama.
It is impressive how South Korea keeps its identity intact while being the leader in world innovation.