South Korea (1378 words) Essay

South Korea
South Korea is officially known as Taehan Min’guk (Republic of Korea). This
country is in northeastern Asia and occupies the southern part of the Korean
Peninsula. South Korea is bounded on the north by North Korea; on the east by
the East Sea (Sea of Japan); on the south bye the Korea Strait, which also
separates it from Japan; and on the west by the Yellow Sea. It has a total area
of 38,328 square miles, including many offshore islands in the south and west,
and the largest is Cheju. The state of South Korea was established in 1948
succeeding the post-World War II distribution of the penisula between the
occupying forces of the United States in the south and the Union of Soviet
Republics (USSR) in the north. The capital of South Korea is Seoul which is also
the largest city. The current version of the South Korean flag was adopted in
1984, but the basic design has been used since the country’s founding is 1948.


The Buddhist yin-yang symbol represents the unity of opposites, and the white
background represents purity. The black markings symbolize three cycles, with
opposites in each cycle opposing one another(reading clockwise from the upper
left): summer, autumn, winter, spring, south, west, north, east, sky, moon,
earth, and sun. South Korea is mainly a rugged, mountainous terrain. The
principal range is the T’aebaek-sanmaek, which extends in a north-south
direction parallel to the eastern coast. The country’s highest peak, located
on the island of Cheju, is Halla-san. Plains constitute less than one-fifth the
total area and are mostly in the west along the coast the coastal plains in the
east and south are very narrow. South Korea has a highly indented coastline
characterized by high tidal ranges, the country’s tow longest rivers, the
Naktong and Han, rise in the T’aebaek-sanmaek, one flowing south to the Korea
Strait and the other northwest to the Yellow sea. Other major rivers include the
Kom, Yengsan, and Tongjin. South Korea has a continental climate, with cold, dry
winters and hot, rainy summers. In Seoul the average January temperature range
is 16 to 30 degrees F, and the average July temperature range is 70 to 84
degrees F. Winter temperatures are higher along the southern coast and
considerably lower in the mountainous interior. The average precipitation in
Seoul is 49in and in Pusan 54in. Rainfall is mostly in the summer months (June
to September). The southern coast is subject to late summer typhoons that bring
strong winds and heavy rains. Mixed deciduous and coniferous forests cover about
three-quarters of the land, but have been lessened of use as fuel. Predominate
species include pine, maple, elm, poplar, fir and aspen. Bamboo, laurel, and
evergreen oak are found in the southern coastal areas. Large mammals, such as
tigers, leopards, bears, and lynx, used to be common throughout the Korean
Peninsula, but these animals have virtually disappeared form South Korea due to
deforestation and poaching. The population of South Korea (1997 estimate) is
45,948,811. The country’s population density of 1199 people per sq. mi. is one
of the highest in the world. The majority of the population lives in the
southern and western coastal areas. South Korea like North Korea is one of the
most ethnically homogeneous countries in the world. Aside from a resident
foreign population of about 55,000 , mostly Chinese, the country has no racial
or linguistic minorities. Because of the mixed racial character of the
present-day Korean population, it is believed that the ancestors of the Koreans
included immigrants from the northern part of the Asian mainland. The national
language, Korean, is believed by some scholars to be a member of the Altaic
language family. It is similar to Japanese in grammar, but it contains many
borrowed Chinese words. Korean is written in a phonetic script known as
Han’gol from the colonial period and most educated Koreans can read English,
which is taught in all secondary schools. In 1995 nearly one-half of the people
in South Korea did not claim a religion. Buddhism claimed more adherents than
any other religion in South Korea. Confucianism, which is more a moral
philosophy than a religion, is a more prominent element in Korean life than its
somewhat small number of adherents would recommend. Christian missionaries were
first permitted in Korea in 1882 and by 1995 the Christian population
skyrocketed to 11.8 million, three quarters of them were Protestants. Other
important influences include Ch’endogyo, a religion founded in the mid-19th
century that fuses elements of Confucianism and Daoism. Primary education is
free for all children between the ages of 6 and 15. Secondary education consists
of three years of middle school and three years of high school. In the 1995-1996
school year nearly 3.9 million students were enrolled in kindergarten and
elementary schools and 4.7 million in middle and high schools, including nearly
1 million in vocational high schools. Private schools play an important role,
especially above the primary level. The country has 297 places of higher
learning, with a total annual enrollment of 2.2 million students. The principal
universities are Korea University, Seoul National University, Ewha Women’s
University, and Yonsei University all of which are in Seoul. An estimated 98
percent of the adult population of South Korea is literate- 99.3 percent of the
men and 96.7 percent of the women. The country’s strong and distinct cultural
heritage is respected by the Korean people, and efforts are made by the
government to encourage and preserve the traditional arts. Several museums are
located in Seoul, including the National Museum, with its extensive collection
of Korean cultural and folklore relics; branches of the national museums are
located in eight other major cities. Martial Arts is a strong part of Koreas
culture and the main martial art is Tae-Kwon-Do this mean foot fist way.

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Tae-Kwon-Do originated many years ago in ancient Korea which was divided into
three kingdoms, the smallest of which was Silla. Silla, which was established in
57 BC, was constantly being invaded by the larger more powerful neighbor to the
north and west over a period of 1000 years. Around 540 AD King Chin-Hung called
together the youth and patriots to form a military organization known as the
Hawarang-Do. The Hawarang-Do was responsible for transforming and intensifying
Silla’s common method of foot fighting and added hand techniques which
included a blend of hard and soft as well as linear and circular techniques
calling this fighting art Tae-Kyon. The Hawarang-Do was a very unusual
organization, for not only did the study the art of fighting, but also the arts
of music and poetry as well, seeking always to unify body and spirit. Around 580
AD, under King Chin-Hung’s rule, a code of conduct was established bye the
Hawarand-Do that became the core of Silla’s national morality and strength.


This code is composed of allegiance to the nation, respect for ones’ parents,
loyalty to friends, courage in battle and wisdom in the use of the fighting art
of Tae-Kyon. Around 668 AD, under the leadership of General Kim Yoo-Sin, the
Hawarang-Do succeeded in its goal to unify Korea and the fighting art of Tae-Kyon
flourished over 700 years. In 1392, the Yi dynasty was established and the art
of valor fell into public disfavor and would not have survived had the knowledge
not been passed from father to son and instructor to student. In 1910, the
Japanese began there occupation of Korea and the fighting art of Tae-Kyon was
suppressed even further with the knowledge being maintained only by the secret
study and practice of dedicated instructors. After the liberation from the
Japanese occupation if Korea in 1945, the art of Tae-Kyon was revived. In 1946,
the Korean masters met to unify and discuss the foreign influences on the once
purely Korean art of Tae-Kyon. After years of debate Japanese and Chinese hand
techniques were introduced to the art of Tae-Kyon when there found practical and
useful for self-defense. During the Korean Conflict in 1950 to 1953, the art of
Tae-Kyon, both with its ancient and modern fighting techniques, were thoroughly
tested under combat conditions. In 1951, the Korean masters of all martial arts
understandings met and decided to call their nations unified art Tang-So-Do, and
in 1955 changing it to Kong-Soo-Do; both of these groups failing to maintain
full support. In 1959 the Korean masters met again and decided to call their
nation unified art Tae-Soo-Do, and in 1964 the Korean masters agreed upon the
final name for their new form of Korean martial art, Tae-Kwon-Do, the fighting
art of hand and foot.

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