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SOUTH KOREA

In August 1948 the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established, with Syngman Rhee as the first president. North Korean troops invaded the south in June 1950, starting the three-year Korean War. An armistice ended the war in 1953, but a permanent peace treaty has never been signed. In the following decades, South Korea experienced political turmoil under autocratic leadership. President Syngman Rhee was forced to resign in April 1960 following a student-led uprising. The leadership of President Chang Myon ended after only one year when Major General Park Chung-hee led a military coup. Park's rule, which resulted in tremendous economic growth and development but increasingly restricted political freedoms, ended with his assassination in 1979. Subsequently, a powerful group of military officers, led by Lieutenant General Chun Doo-hwan, declared martial law and took power. Throughout the Park and Chun eras, South Korea developed a vocal civil society that led to strong protests against authoritarian rule. Intensified pro-democracy activities ultimately forced political concessions by the government in 1987, including the restoration of direct presidential elections. In 1987, Roh Tae-woo, a former general, was elected president, but additional democratic advances during his tenure resulted in the 1992 election of a long-time pro-democracy activist Kim Young-sam, who became Korea's first civilian elected president in 32 years. The 1997 presidential election and peaceful transition of power marked another step forward in Korea's democratization when Kim Dae-jung, a life-long democracy and human rights activist, was elected from a major opposition party. The transition to an open, democratic system was further consolidated in the following years. In 2002 Roh Moo-hyun was elected president, and in 2007 former business executive and Mayor of Seoul Lee Myung-bak was elected the new president of South Korea. Since the 1960s, South Korea has transformed from an agricultural-based economy into an industrialized and high-tech modern economy. It is now the 13th largest economy in the world.

 

 
Country Forecast
Major Cities
City Population
Seoul 10,349,312
Pusan 3,678,555
Incheon 2,628,000
Key Data
Region : Asia
Population : 49,039,984
Area Total : 98,480 km2
Area Land : 98,190 km2
Coast Line : 2,413 km
Capital : Seoul
Climate : Temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than in winter.
Languages : Korean, English widely taught in high school
Currency : 1 South Korean won (W) = 100 chun (theoretical)
Holiday : Independence Day is 15 August (1948), Memorial Day is 6 June
Average Daily TemperatureBoundaries
January : 0.30°C / 32.50°F
July : 28.80°C / 83.80°F
Annual Rainfall : 1364mm / 53"
   
 
Ethnic DivisionsReligions
Koreans 99%
Chinese 1%
 
Christianity 49%
Buddhism 47%
Confucianism 3%
Shamanist, Chondogyo, other 1%


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