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 SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm

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PostSubject: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:35 pm

South Korea

, officially the Republic of Korea and often referred to as Korea (Korean: 대한민국, [tɛː.han.min.ɡuk̚], Hanja: 大韓民國), is a presidential republic in East Asia, occupying the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Also known as the "Land of the Morning Calm", it is neighbored by China to the west, Japan to the east and borders North Korea to the north. South Korea's capital and largest city is Seoul, the second largest metropolitan city in the world.

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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:45 am

explaining the korean flag.


The flag of South Korea, or Taegukgi (Although revised official Romanization is Taegeukgi,
the word Taegukgi has been used in English-speaking countries
historically) has three parts: a white background; a red and blue taegeuk in the center; and four black trigrams, one in each corner of the flag. The flag was designed by Bak Yeong-hyo, the Korean ambassador to Japan. King GojongTaegeukgi to be the official flag of Korea on 6 March1883.
proclaimed the


The four trigrams originates in the Chinese book I Ching,
representing the four Chinese philosophical ideas about the universe:
harmony, symmetry, balance, circulation. The general design of the flag
also derives from traditional use of the tricolor symbol (red, blue and
yellow) by Koreans starting from the early era of Korean history. The
white background symbolizes "cleanliness of the people." The taegeuk
represents the origin of all things in the universe; holding the two
principles of "Eum", the negative aspect rendered in blue, and "Yang",
the positive aspect rendered in red, in perfect balance. Together, they
represent a continuous movement within infinity, the two merging as
one. The four trigrams are:


  • ||| Force (☰; geon (건; ) in Korean) = heaven (), spring (), east (), virtue ();
  • Field (☷; gon (곤; )) = earth (), summer (), west (西), justice ();
  • || Radiance (☲; ri (리; )) = sun (), autumn (), south (), courtesy ();
  • | Gorge (☵; gam (감; )) = moon (), winter (), north (), knowledge or wisdom ()
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:25 am

Language


Main articles: Korean language and Hangul


Korean
is the official language of both North and South Korea, and of Yanbian
Autonomous Prefecture in Manchuria area of China. Worldwide, there are
up to 80 million speakers of the Korean Language. South Korea has
around 50 million speakers while North Korea around 23 million. Other
large groups of Korean speakers are found in the United States (around 2.5 million speakers), China (around 2 million speakers), the former Soviet Union (around 500,000), Japan (around 900,000), Canada (100,000), Philippines (70,000) and Australia
(150,000). It is estimated that there are around 700,000 people
scattered across the world who are able to speak Korean because of job
requirements (for example, salespersons or businessmen with Korean
contacts), marriages to Koreans or out of pure interest in the language.[citation needed]
The genealogical classification of Korean is debated. Some linguists place it in the Altaic language family; others consider it to be a language isolate. Korean is agglutinative in its morphology and SOV in its syntax. Like Japanese and Vietnamese, Korean has borrowed much vocabulary from the genetically unrelated Chinese or created vocabulary on Chinese models.
Modern Korean is written almost exclusively in the hangul script, which was invented in the 15th century. While hangul may appear logographic, it is actually a phonemic alphabet organized into syllabic blocks. Each block consists of at least two of the 24 hangul letters (jamo): at least one each of the 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Historically, the alphabet had several additional letters (see obsolete jamo). For a phonological description of the letters, see Korean phonology. Hanja (Chinese characters) and Latin alphabets are sometimes included within hangul texts, particularly in South Korea.
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:27 am

Education


Main articles: Education in North Korea and Education in South Korea


The modern Korean school system consists of 6 years in elementary
school, 3 years in middle school, and 3 years in high school. Students
are supposed to go to elementary and middle school, and do not have to
pay for it.(The teachers are paid from taxes) Most public middle school
and high school students have to wear uniforms, and are not supposed to
grow their hair more than a particular length. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD,
currently ranks South Korea's science education as the 3rd best in the
world, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[35]
Although South Korean students often rank high on international
comparative tests, the education system is sometimes criticized for its
emphasis on passive learning and memorization. The Korean education
system is much more strict and structured than most western societies
and Korean students rarely have free time to spend enjoying themselves
as they are under a lot of pressure to perform and gain entrance to a
university.[
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Sun Aug 24, 2008 11:28 am

Religion



Amitabha and Eight Great Bodhisattvas, Goryeo scroll from the 1300s





Main articles: Korean Confucianism, Korean Buddhism, Christianity in Korea, and Islam in Korea


Confucian tradition has dominated Korean thought, along with contributions by Buddhism, Taoism, and Korean Shamanism. Since the middle of the 20th century, however, Christianity has competed with Buddhism in South Korea, while religious practice has been suppressed in North Korea.
According to 2003 statistics compiled by the South Korean
government, about 46% of citizens profess to follow no particular
religion. Christians account for 27.3% of the population (of which half are Catholics and half are various denominations of Protestantism) and Buddhists 25.3%.[citation needed]
Koreans valued scholarship and rewarded education and study of Chinese classic texts; Yangban boys were highly educated in hanja. In Silla, the bone rank system defined a person's social status, and a similar system persisted through the end of the Joseon Dynasty. In addition, the gwageo civil service examination provided paths of upward mobility.
Islam in South Korea is comprised of about 45,000 in addition to some 100,000 foreign workers from Muslim countries.
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:55 am

This article is about the Korean civilization. For the modern political entities, see North Korea and South Korea. For other uses, see Korea (disambiguation).
Korea

Capital Pyongyang, Seoul
3732′N 12659′E / 37.533, 126.983
Largest conurbation (population) Seoul
Official languages Korean
Area
- Total 220,186 km (84th if ranked)
85,020 sq mi
- Water (%) 2.8
Population
- 2007 estimate 72,014,000 (17th if ranked)
- Density 328.48/km
850.7/sq mi
Currency Won (₩) (N/S)
Time zone KST (UTC+9)

Entrance to Gyeongbokgung
Joseon dynasty royal throneKorea is a geographic area, civilization, and a former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It borders China to the west and Russia to the north, with Japan situated to the east. The Korean Peninsula is divided into two separate states, North Korea and South Korea.

The history of Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by Dangun. Limited linguistic evidence suggests probable Altaic origins of these people, whose northern Mongolian steppe culture absorbed migration and trade with the peoples of Manchuria and China. The adoption of the Chinese writing system ("hanja" in Korean) in the 2nd century BC, and Buddhism in the 4th century AD, had profound effects on the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Baekje later passed on a modified version of these cultural advances to Japan.[1][2][3][4]

Since the Goryeo Dynasty, Korea was ruled by a single government and maintained political and cultural independence until the nineteenth century, despite the Mongol invasions of the Goryeo Dynasty in the 13th century and Japanese invasions of the Joseon Dynasty in the 16th century. In 1377, Korea produced the Jikji, the world's oldest movable metal print document.[5] In the 15th century, the turtle ships, possibly the world's first ironclad warships, were deployed, and King Sejong the Great promulgated the Korean alphabet han-geul to increase literacy among his people who could not read nor write hanja (Chinese characters).

During the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea's isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname the "Hermit Kingdom". By the late 19th century, the country became the object of the colonial designs of Japan and Europe. In 1910, Korea was forcibly annexed by Japan and remained occupied until the end of World War II in August 1945.

In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender and disarming of Japanese troops in Korea; the Soviet Union accepting the surrender of Japan north of the 38th parallel and the United States taking the surrender south of it. This led to the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their inability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The two Cold War rivals then established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea's current division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:30 am



culture and entertainment...

South Korea shares its traditional culture with North Korea, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. The South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.[85]

Korean forms of metalwork, sculpture, painting, and ceramics flourished throughout the Korean Peninsula. In modern times, Western and particularly the US influences have been strongest. In the aftermath of Japanese occupation all Japanese cultural exports were banned from Korea until 1999. However, trading between the two countries has grown, although there is still strong anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea.

Recently, Korean pop culture has become popular in Asia and beyond, earning the name Hallyu or "Korean wave". In Japan and other Asian countries, Korean boyband TVXQ and television drama like Winter Sonata have found success.[86], while Rain is widely acknowledged in Asia and begins to set his foot on American market. Recent Korean films such as Oldboy and Oasis have also received international acclaim.[87]

The contemporary culture of South Korea is heavily dominated by technology, including feature-rich cell phones and pervasive online games. South Korea today features high penetration of high-speed internet access to households.[88] In South Korea, computer games take on a sport-like presentation. The professional leagues are televised with announcers, professional players and major corporate sponsors.

South Korea retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its cuisine, ancestor worship, and Confucius ideals. Foods like Steamed Rice(밥), Bulgogi (불고기, Korean style beef BBQ), Kimbap (김밥, rice roll wrapped in seaweed), Mandu (만두, dumplings), Doenjang jjigae (된장찌개, fermented soybean paste), Japchae (잡채, Boiled sweet potato starch noodles mixed with fried vegetables), Tteokbokki (떡볶이, a broiled dish made with sliced rice cake, seasoned beef, fish cakes and vegetables), Bibimbap (비빔밥, mixed rice with vegetables, beef, egg and chili pepper paste) and Kimchi (김치, fermented vegetables) are staples of the Korean diet. Especially well-known throughout the world is the kimchi (김치), a spicy dish made of Chinese cabbage and other seasonings.

StarCraft is a popular online game in Korea. Its fanbase exceeds five million, and has two Korean-based channels dedicated to its broadcast. Professional StarCraft player Lim Yo-Hwan (SlayerS `BoxeR`) earned over $300,000 during the peak of his career.
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:23 am

Korean History

Korea is a modern nation with a history of over 5,000 years. The history of its culture can be seen in the Korean art and architecture that remains today.

In Korea mythology there is a story of the birth of the Korean nation when a god named Hwanung comes from heaven and transforms a bear into a woman. He marries her and she gives birth to a son, Tangun.. Tangun establishes the first capital of the Korean nation in 2333 B.C. and calls it Joseon - Land of the Morning Calm.

Ko (Old) Joseon is the kingdom that many Koreans believe was founded by Tangun. They probably lived in pit houses and had iron tools. Their walled-kingdom was near Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.

Prehistoric remains found throughout Korea indicate that early in the history of the Korean Peninsula sophisticated technologies were known by these inhabitants. These people believed that all objects had spirits which is a belief known as animism. They also believed that some people had the power to communicate with these spirits and this is known as Shamanism. Farming at this time included growing rice. This was about 3,500 years ago at the start of the Bronze Age. Many farm tools have been found from this time.

There were many other nations in Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula during the Iron Age. In the 1st century B.C., Kojoseon gives way to three nations. The first is Goguryeo (37 B.C.- 668 A.D.) to the north which was in Manchuria and northern Korea. Goguryeo becomes a buffer against the aggressive nations of China. Two other kingdoms developed, Silla (founded in 57 B.C.) in the south eastern corner of the peninsula, and Baekche (founded in 18 B.C.) in the south-western part of the peninsula. They become known as the "Three Kingdoms" although there was a fourth kingdom known as Kaya (founded in 42 A.D.)

Korea, being a peninsula and being surrounded by the great powers of the Orient, has been subject to invasions throughout its history by warring nations from China and Manchuria to the north and from Japan to the east.

Being isolated from the north, Silla was the last kingdom to be influenced by foreign ideas. Due to this isolation, their art and architecture became distinctly Korean.

The cultures of the Three Kingdoms became very refined with an aristocratic society where the aristocrats became the leaders. With the development of Silla and Baekche, friction developed between the three kingdoms.

Between 417 and 458 A.D. the Three Kingdoms accept Buddhism and this greatly expands their art and architectural culture. The Buddhist culture later extended to Japan and influences their culture.

With Buddhism the arts of building temples, creating stone Buddhas, stone pagodas, and stone lanterns flourished. Huge bells are cast which are struck by logs hanging from two chains. Many monks composed and wrote literature in Chinese.

In the 7th century Silla conquered the other kingdoms and the Three Kingdoms are united by Silla except for the part of Goryeo in Manchuria. They are then able to form a nation under one government known as Unified Silla.

Many beautiful temples and shrines are built including Bulguksa Temple and the Seokguram Buddhist Grotto, a technological as well as a sculptural masterpiece. Buddhists texts were printed with woodblocks. The oldest astronomical observatory in the world was also built in Gyeongju, the ancient Silla capital.

The Silla rulers began to fight among each other and in 918 Wang Kon founded the Goryeo Dynasty. This was where the name, Korea, was derived. The new laws were patterned after Chinese laws and Confucian and Buddhist beliefs. Buddhism became the official religion. The art of Goryeo celadon pottery is developed which continues as an art today.

In the 12th century, Goryeo underwent conflicts between the civilian and military structures and later in the 13th century Goryeo was invaded several times by the Mongolians from the north. Goryeo was also weakened by Japanese pirates.

In 1392 the Goryeo Dynasty was taken over by the Joseon Dynasty who had a Confucian form of government. The Joseon Dynasty was ruled by the Yi family from 1392 to 1910. This was a government which promoted loyalty to their country and respect for parents. Joseon founder King Dae jo began the construction of Jongmyo Shrine in 1394 when the dynasty moved its capital to Hanyang, now Seoul. King Sejong the Great began his reign in 1418. In the early 1420 King Sejong also gathered many scholars to create a phonetic language which has 11 vowels and 17 consonants to form the Korean written language known as Hangeul. Until then, only a few scholars could read and write using Chinese characters. He also promoted education for all citizens and many scientific developments such as the sun dial and water clocks.

King Sejong's Sundial

Korea was attacked by the Japanese in 1592-98 with destruction of many buildings and the killing of many Koreans. Kobukson, the world's first ironclad battleships, were built by Admiral Yi Sun-shin which helped the Koreans prevent Japan from taking over Korea.

The Korean society changed as traders and merchants began to trade with Japan and the West. In the 1800's the Joseon leaders wanted to close Korea to foreigners, while the merchant class wanted to improve their economy and technology to deal with outside trade.

Japan began to grow stronger and in 1895 they defeated China during the Sino-Japanese War. Russia was defeated in 1905 in the Russo-Japanese War. Japan had become the the military power in Northeast Asia. Japan annexed Korea as a Japanese colony in 1910.

For 35 years Korea was ruled by Japan. Koreans were not allowed to speak their own language or to learn about their history during this time in an effort to obliterate the Korean culture. Japan plundered land and food. On March 1, 1919 many Koreans were killed or put in prison nationwide as as they protested the colonial rule. Koreans remember this day as a symbol of their patriotism. Koreans strove to keep their cultural heritage which we see today in their many historical sites.

On August 15th, 1945 Japan surrendered ending the Pacific War, but 10 days later Korea was divided into North and South Korea. The United States took control of surrendering Japanese soldiers south of the 38th Parallel while the Soviet Union took control of the north.The United Nations called for elections in 1947 but the North Koreans refused.

A communist form of government came into power in North Korea (known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea). The United States turned its authority over to South Korea (the Republic of Korea) in 1948 and left a small group of military advisors.

South Korea was invaded by North Korea on June 25th, 1950. The United Nations sent military assistance. The Korean War lasted three years and inflicted terrible damage to Korea before a cease-fire ended the war in 1953. The 4 kilometer-wide area along the Military Demarcation Line which divides North and South Korea has become known as the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone. Over the 45 years since the Korean War there have been continual conflicts along the DMZ.

South Korea continues in its efforts to unify North and South Korea.
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:28 am

Korean Language History
ROOTS OF THE KOREAN LANGUAGE
There is a consensus among linguists that Korean is a member of the Altaic family of languages, which originated in northern Asia and includes the Mongol, Turkic, Finnish, Hungarian, and Tungusic (Manchu) languages. Despite the fact that Korean and Japanese have some similar grammatical structures, a historical relationship between the two languages has not been established so far.

The Korean language may be written using a mixture of Chinese ideograms ("Hanja") and a native Korean alphabet known as "Hangul", or in "Hangul" alone, much as in a more limited way Indo-European languages sometimes write numbers using Arabic symbols and at other times spell numbers out in their own alphabets or in some combination of the two forms.

Because of its greater variety of sounds, Korean does not have the problem of the Japanese written language, which some experts have argued needs to retain a sizable inventory of Chinese characters to distinguish a large number of potentially ambiguous sounds.

Although the Korean and Chinese languages are not related in terms of grammatical structure, more than 50 percent of all Korean vocabulary is derived from Chinese loanwords, a reflection of the cultural dominance of China over 2 millennia.

Large numbers of Chinese character compounds coined in Japan in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries to translate modern Western scientific, technical, and political vocabulary came into use in Korea during the colonial period. Post-1945 United States influence has been reflected in a number of English words that have been absorbed into Korean. Unlike Chinese, Korean does not encompass dialects that are mutually unintelligible. There are, however, regional variations both in vocabulary and pronunciation.
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PostSubject: Re: SOUTH KOREA: land of the morning calm   Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:28 am

THE NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE
It is unclear to what extent the honorific language and its grammatical forms have been retained in the north. The North Korean regime has a policy that has attempted to eliminate as many foreign loanwords as possible, as well as older terms of Chinese origin. Western loanwords are also being dropped.

Pyongyang regards "Hanja", or Chinese characters, as symbols of "flunkeyism" and has systematically eliminated them from all publications. An attempt has also been made to create new words of exclusively Korean origin. Parents are encouraged to give their children Korean rather than Chinese-type names. Nonetheless, approximately 300 Chinese characters are still taught in North Korean schools.
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