South Korea Essay Research Paper South Korea

South Korea Essay, Research Paper

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.

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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