South Korea
Country profile

About South Korea

Despite living in the shadow of an ever-present threat from its belligerent neighbour, South Korea is a thriving, free and safe country that represents the very best of modern Asia. Occupying the lower half of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea leads the world in information technology production, and is a major exporter of electrical goods. It’s also the country that brought the world Gangnam Style!

South Korea is a largely mountainous country, with ranges plunging to the sea along the east coast and coastal plains along the west. It has just one land border, with North Korea to the north, which features a 2km wide demilitarised zone, or DMZ, of no-man’s land. It is close to Japan, Thailand and Singapore by air or sea and has historically been strongly influenced by its largest neighbour, China. Yet despite this mixed bag of Asian influences, South Korea has retained a strong identity of its own, with a unique outlook on life and a very different cuisine.

While it may not be top of the list for western tourists, South Korea attracts over 11 million foreign visitors every year, making it the world’s 20th most visited country. With living costs cheaper than Japan, and city streets far safer than much of Asia, there is a lot to attract visitors, both from neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. 

South Korea has everything you could want in a holiday destination, from beautiful beaches, such as Haeundae Beach in Busan or the delightful Jeju Island, to ski resorts in the mountains of Kangwon-do province. Many are drawn by the bustling cities, such as the capital Seoul, while others head for the mountains for superb hiking and climbing.

South Korean cuisine is decidedly different, and can take some getting used to, combining hot, spicy chillies with generous amounts of garlic. The accompanying night life can be rather spicy too, with Karaoke bars and lots of neon the order of the day. This is the 15th largest economy in the world and they like to work hard and play hard. Think of the in-your-face styling of PSY’s worldwide hit single and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect in Seoul.

Ultra modern in places, yet charmingly ancient and oriental in others, South Korea is a fascinating place to visit, from the frenetic streets of Seoul to the pure fun of the Boryeong Mud Festival.

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Quick facts

Population: 50.2 Million
Currency: South Korean won
Capital: Seoul
Languages: Korean
Religions: 22% Buddhist, 18% Protestant