General Information about Korea



          The Korean  Peninsula   extends
from the northeast part of the
Asian continent between 33 and 43 North
Latitude  and  124   and 132 degree East Longitude. The standard meridian of the peninsula  is 135,  nine  hours ahead of GMT. The Amnokkang and Tuman-gang Rivers  border both China and Russia to   the north, and  Japan is  just across the East Sea.  Since 1945, as a by-product
of the Cold War, the peninsula has been divided   at  38  North   Latitude  into  the capitalist  Republic  of Korea,  or  South Korea, and the comm-unist Democratic People's  Republic  of  Korea ,  more commonly known as North Korea.


Area & Topography

     The total area of the peninsula is  221,607 km2,  similar in size to that of U.K,  New Zealand,
or  Romania.  South  Korea possesses  99,237 km2 or   45% of the total land mass, and North
Korea  122,370 km2,  the remaining 55%.  About 70% of the land is mountainous, mainly to the
north and east.   Along the southern and  western  coasts  the mountains descend gradually
towards broad coastal plains.  Most of the rivers have their tributaries  on the north  and east
sides,  and  flow into  the Yellow  and   South Seas.  Concentrated  for  the  most part off  the
southern   coast  are  upwards  of  3,000  islands  of  various  sizes  that   provide  scenery
unparalleled  in  the  world.


People and Population

Koreans,  like many other Asian peoples,  are descendants of Mongolian Tungus stock.  They differ from the neighboring Japanese and Chinese, however, in that Koreans are a homogene-

ous ethnic group with their own language, culture, and customs. Korean people are characterized by their generosity,   warmth, and kindness,  and are renowned as one of the hardest working people in the world.

    Population : South Korea - 46.9 million(1997)
      (North Korea - 25 million) (estimated)

    Annual growth rate : 0.90% (1995)

    Urbanization rate : 78.5% (1995)

    Average family size : 3.3 persons (1995)   

    Number of foreign residents : 110,028 (1995)

The National Flag and Flower

The Korean flag is called  T'aegukki.  Its design  symbolizes the  principles of yin and yang in Oriental philosophy.  The circle in the  center of the  flag is divided  into  two  equal parts. The upper red section represents the positive cosmic  forces of yang.  Conversely, the lower blue

section  represents   the  negative cosmic   forces   of  yin.  The  two forces  together  embody the  con- cepts  of  continual movement and balance  and  harmony that chara- cterize  the  sphere  of infinity. The circle   is   surrounded    by  four  trigrams, one in each corner. Each trigram symbolizes one of the four universal elements : heaven, earth, fire, and water. The national flower  of  Korea  is  the  Mugunghwa  or

Rose of Sharon. Every year from June to  October a profusion of Mugunhwa  blossoms grace the entire country.  Unlike most flowers,  Mugunghwa  is  remarkably  tenacious  and is able to withstand both blight and insects. The flower's symbolic significance stems from Mugunghwa's root word, "Mugung," meaning immortality. This word accurately reflects the perseverance and determination of the Korean people that has been demonstrated throughout their long history.


General Information about SEOUL

Seoul,  the  capital  of the  Republic  of Korea, is one of the ten largest  cities  in the world with   a  population of over  11  million people  living on about  628   square kilometers. The city nestles between  two mountain ranges.  The Han River flows west to the Yellow Sea and divides the city into two parts. The older section lies to the north, and to the south spread new residential areas, industrial  developments  as  well  as  satellite  cities  such  as Pundang, Pyongchon, Ilsan and Sanbon.

A  distinctive  characteristic  of Seoul  is the remarkable ways of yesterday  and  today  blended  and  its  balance  to preserve all that is the best in Korea's unique 5,000-year culture. Selected by King  Taejo,  the  founder of the Chosun Dynasty (1392 A.D.-1910 A.D.) as the seat for his throne,  Seoul  has,  for  over 600 years, been the focal point of Korean thought, culture, and history.

The downtown core is broadly demarcated by the course of the old city wall. The sections of the  wall  and its gates that  remain intact have been fully restored to their original magnificence. The most famous and visible of these are the South Gate and the East Gate, both officially designated as national treasures. There are many more points of beauty and interest in and around the city. Today, Seoul is the center of the nation's government, education, business,  finance,  entertain- ment, art, industry and administration.


Korea experienced the  Korean War  in the early 50s but recovered from the ruins of the war and achieved a remarkable economic growth since the early 70s, enabling the nation to host the 24th Summer Olympic Games in 1988 in the city of Seoul.


- About Seoul & Korea