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South Korea is a country in East Asia, on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea, with which it was united until 1945 (Oberdorfer, 1997).To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China, and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. By far the largest city is the capital, Seoul; approximately one-third of the country’s population lives in or near the capital (Cordesman, 2002).The population is overwhelmingly ethnic Korean; roughly half are non-religious, with the remainder divided between Christians and Buddhists. The history of South Korea has seen five major constitutional changes since the country was founded in 1948 (Cordesman, 2002).
After passing through a series of autocratic regimes prior to 1987, South Korea is now a multi party democracy (Oberdorfer, 1997). However, it continues to struggle with aspects of its 20th-century history, under both Japanese and military rule. Despite numerous efforts at reform, allegations of corruption and human rights abuses continue. The South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the end of the Korean War, when it was one of Asia’s poorest countries. It is now the 11th largest economy in the world, and one of the most technologically advanced (Cordesman, 2002).
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"South Korea Sociocultural Report." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Dec 2019
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South Korea brands such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai have gained worldwide recognition. The country’s culture is largely secular, oriented toward consumption and technology. The South Korea entertainment industry has grown explosively since the 1990s, and has produced a number of musical and cinematic sensations. Many of these have gained considerable popularity around east and Southeast Asia, in a phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave” (Oberdorfer, 1997).At the end of World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into the Soviet Union occupied northern half and the United States occupied southern half, each forming its own government in 1948 (Cordesman, 2002).
The Republic of Korea is a developed, stable, democratic republic with powers shared between the president, legislature and judiciary. The head of state of the Republic of Korea is the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a single five-year term. In addition to being the highest representative of the republic and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the president also has considerable executive powers and appoints the prime minister with approval of the National Assembly, as well as appointing and presiding over the State Council or cabinet. The main political parties in South Korea are the Uri Party and the Grand Democratic Party (DP) (Oberdorfer, 1997).
Korean cultural development is generally divided into periods coinciding with political development. South Korea shares its traditional culture with that of North Korea, but the two Koreans have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since its division into two separate states. Korea was strongly influenced by Chinese culture and acted as a conduit of culture from China to Japan during Japan’s formative years, with the flow of both Chinese and Korea culture influencing Japan. Koreans adapted many Chinese art forms with innovation and skill, creating distinctively Korean forms. For many centuries, metalwork, sculptures, painting, and ceramics flourished throughout the Korean peninsula (Cordesman, 2002).
As one of the East Asian Tigers, South Korea has achieved an impressive record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern global economy, making South Korea the 11th largest economy in the world (Oberforfer, 1997).In the aftermath of World War II, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. Then the Korean War made conditions in Korea even worse. By early 2006, its GDP per capita is roughly 20 times North Korea’s and equal to the medium economies of the European Union (Cordesman, 2002).Calculating the GDP with purchasing power parity in 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies (Oberdorfer, 1997).
When visiting any foreign country it is always polite to respect the local customs. Take the time before the trip to read up on the countries you will be visiting and perhaps learn a few words of the language. In many restaurants you will be expected to remove your shoes and footwear and they should always be removed if you visit a private house. It is impolite to use an unqualified- and also to make too much direct eye contact or to blow your nose in front of others. Koreans may sometimes be offended if their hospitality is refused.
Over two thirds of the world’s countries are rife with corruption, a spectre haunting Latin America. The Berlin-based anti-corruption group said 70 percent of the 102 countries it surveyed for its 2002 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scored less than half-marks, a clear deterioration from last year (Cordesman, 2002). In parts of South Korea, the graft and misrule of political elites have drained confidence in the democratic structures that emerged after the end of the military rule (Oberdorfer, 1997).
The United States has been the primary driver in the establishment and the initial sustenance of the South Korea government. The relation between the two states has been further strengthened through a strong and enduring military alliance, formed in 1953 (Cordesman, 2002). South Korea allied itself with the United States, taking an active part in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War (Oberdorfer, 1997). However, the United States and South Korea have often been at odds in recent times with regard to their policy (Oberdorfer, 1997).
Cordesman, Anthony H. (2002). “The Asian Balance.” Center for International Studies. Oberdorfer, Don (1997). The Two Koreans (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley), pp. 313-25