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South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and borders North Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone; though it also claims the land border with China and Russia. The country's western border is formed by the Yellow Sea, while its eastern border is defined by the Sea of Japan. South Korea claims to be the sole legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. It has a population of 51.96 million, of which half live in the Seoul Capital Area, the ninth most populous metropolitan area in the world. Other major cities include Busan, Daegu, and Incheon.

The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BCE. After the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea into Silla and Balhae in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). The succeeding Korean Empire (1897–1910) was annexed in 1910 into the Empire of Japan. Japanese rule ended following Japan's surrender in World War II, after which Korea was divided into two zones: a northern zone, which was occupied by the Soviet Union, and a southern zone, which was occupied by the United States. After negotiations on reunification failed, the southern zone became the Republic of Korea in August 1948, while the northern zone became the communist Democratic People's Republic of Korea the following month.

In 1950, a North Korean invasion began the Korean War, which ended in 1953 after extensive fighting involving the American-led United Nations Command and the People's Volunteer Army from China with Soviet assistance. The war left 3 million Koreans dead and the economy in ruins. The authoritarian First Republic of Korea led by Syngman Rhee was overthrown in the April Revolution of 1960. However, the Second Republic failed to control the revolutionary fervor. The May 16 coup of 1961 led by Park Chung Hee put an end to the Second Republic, signaling the start of the Third Republic in 1963. South Korea's devastated economy began to soar under Park's leadership, recording the one of fastest rises in average GDP per capita. Despite lacking natural resources, the nation rapidly developed to become one of the Four Asian Tigers based on international trade and economic globalization, integrating itself within the world economy with export-oriented industrialization. The Fourth Republic was established after the October Restoration of 1972, in which Park wielded absolute power. The Yushin Constitution declared that the president could suspend basic human rights and appoint a third of the parliament. Suppression of the opposition and human rights abuse by the government became more severe in this period. Even after Park's assassination in 1979, the authoritarian rule continued in the Fifth Republic led by Chun Doo-hwan, which violently seized power by two coups and brutally suppressed the Gwangju Uprising. The June Democratic Struggle of 1987 ended authoritarian rule, forming the current Sixth Republic. The country is now considered among the most advanced democracies in continental and East Asia. (Full article...)

In South Korea, video games are considered to be a major social activity, with most of the games being cooperative or. Locally developed role-playing, first-person shooter, MMORPG and mobile games have proven to be very popular in the country. Professional competition surrounding video games (especially those involving real-time strategy games) also enjoy a substantial following in South Korea—major tournaments are often broadcast on television and have large prizes available.

South Korea has developed a strong economy in Asia through the development of creative industries (i.e. Online Game). New York Times culture writer Seth Schiesel has commented "When it comes to gaming, Korea is the developed market... When you look at gaming around the world, Korea is the leader in many ways..." Statistic provided by Korea Creative Content Agency shows that the industry has gained an average growth of 14.9% in sales since 2008. This statistic may reflects an increasing interest in online gaming, especially the youth. Although it is difficult to mark an exact period that is responsible for increasing trend in online gaming; however, it is quite clear that gaming has become much more than activity for leisure.

South Korea has been known for their pre-eminent infrastructure in video gaming, and their dominance in eSports scenes. Many of the best video game players and coaches in the world were trained or originated from South Korea, and the country's pro leagues and tournaments across numerous video games are often acclaimed by many to be the "most prestigious and competitive". (Full article...)
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The Gold crown from Seobongchong Tumulus
The Gold crown from Seobongchong Tumulus
Credit: National Museum of Korea

The Gold crown from Seobongchong Tumulus (Korean서봉총 금관; Hanja; RRSeobongchong geumgwan; MRSŏbongch'ong kŭmgwan), National Treasure of South Korea No. 339, is a gold crown of Silla origin that is now housed at the Gyeongju National Museum.

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In the news

18 July 2024 – LGBT rights in South Korea
South Korea’s top court ruled that same-sex couples are eligible to receive the same health insurance benefits as heterosexual couples, a landmark verdict hailed by human rights groups. (AP)
8 July 2024 –
Thousands of Samsung Electronics workers begin a three-day strike in South Korea over demands for better pay and more annual leave. (Reuters)
5 July 2024 – Attempted assassination of Lee Jae-myung
A district court in Busan, South Korea, sentences the perpetrator in the stabbing of National Assembly member and former opposition leader Lee Jae-myung to 15 years in prison. (Al Jazeera)
1 July 2024 –
A car driving the wrong way in central Seoul, South Korea, strikes pedestrians waiting at a traffic light, killing nine people and injuring four others. (AP)
27 June 2024 – Russian invasion of Ukraine
According to an anonymous South Korean government official, North Korea is preparing to send engineering forces to the Russian-occupied Donetsk region of Ukraine in July. (NK News)
24 June 2024 – Aricell battery factory fire
Twenty-three people are killed and eight others are injured in a fire at a lithium battery factory in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, South Korea. (Reuters)

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This is a Good article, an article that meets a core set of high editorial standards.

The waters that are bordered by Sakhalin in the north-east, Japan in the east and south, Korea in the west and continental Russia in the north are marked with a question mark.
The dispute concerns the international name of the body of water marked with a "?" above.
Japan's preference: Sea of Japan
North Korea's preference: Korean East Sea
South Korea's preference: East Sea

A dispute exists over the international name for the body of water which is bordered by Japan, Korea (North and South) and Russia. In 1992, objections to the name Sea of Japan were first raised by North Korea and South Korea at the Sixth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. The Japanese government supports the exclusive use of the name "Sea of Japan" (Japanese: 日本海), while South Korea supports the alternative name "East Sea" (Korean동해; Hanja東海), and North Korea supports the name "Korean East Sea" (조선동해; 朝鮮東海). Currently, most international maps and documents use either the name Sea of Japan (or equivalent translation) by itself, or include both the name Sea of Japan and East Sea, often with East Sea listed in parentheses or otherwise marked as a secondary name. The International Hydrographic Organization, the governing body for the naming of bodies of water around the world, in 2012 decided it was still unable to revise the 1953 version of its publication S-23 – Limits of Oceans and Seas, which includes only the single name "Sea of Japan", to include "East Sea" together with "Sea of Japan".

The involved countries (especially Japan and South Korea) have advanced a variety of arguments to support their preferred name(s). Many of the arguments revolve around determining when the name Sea of Japan became the common name. South Korea argues that historically the more common name was East Sea, Sea of Korea, or another similar variant. South Korea further argues that the name Sea of Japan did not become common until Korea was under Japanese rule, at which time it had no ability to influence international affairs. Japan argues that the name Sea of Japan has been the most common international name since at least the beginning of the 19th century, long before its annexation of Korea. Both sides have conducted studies of antiquarian maps, but the two countries have produced divergent research results. Additional arguments have been raised regarding the underlying geography of the sea as well as potential problems regarding the ambiguity of one name or the other. (Full article...)

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See WikiProject Korea for collaborating on South Korea topics, and more broadly, on all things Korea-related.

South Korea topics
History By period Timeline of Korean history | Prehistoric Korea | Gojoseon (Dangun Joseon / Gija Joseon / Wiman Joseon / Jin) | Proto–Three Kingdoms of Korea (Buyeo / Okjeo / Dongye / Samhan / Four Commanderies of Han) | Three Kingdoms of Korea (Goguryeo / Baekje / Silla / Gaya confederacy) | North–South States Period (Later Silla / Balhae) | Later Three Kingdoms (Taebong / Later Baekje / Silla) | Goryeo | Joseon | Korean Empire | Korea under Japanese rule (Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea | Division of Korea (United States Army Military Government in Korea / Soviet Civil Administration) | History of South Korea | History of North Korea
By event Battle of Fengwudong | Korean War | United States expedition to Korea | French expedition to Korea | Jungjong coup  | Imjin War | Goryeo–Khitan War
By tophic Military history | History of cuisine | History of Korean language
Government President | Prime Minister | Ministry of Economy and Finance | Ministry of Education | Ministry of Science and ICT | Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Ministry of Unification | Ministry of Justice | Supreme Prosecutors' Office | Ministry of National Defense | Ministry of the Interior and Safety | Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs | Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism | Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs | Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy | Ministry of Health and Welfare | Ministry of Environment | Ministry of Employment and Labor | Ministry of Gender Equality and Family | Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport | Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries | Ministry of SMEs and Startups
Politics Constitution | Foreign relations | Human rights | Armed Forces | Elections | Preaidential elections | Legislative elections | Political parties | National Assembly | Judicial system | Law | LGBT rights
Culture Cinema | Food | Globalization | Martial arts | Mythology | Philosophy | Sword | Tea ceremony | Education | Religion | Smoking | Korean Wave | K-pop | Marriage | Media | Sexuality | Chuseok | Seollal | Festivals | Holidays | Language | Media | National symbols | Aegukga
Art Architecture | Calligraphy | Drama | Literacture | Music | Painting | Pottery and porcelain | Theatre (Pansori) | Manhwa | Webtoon | K-Beauty | Korean poetry | Woodblock printing (Tripitaka Koreana / The Great Dharani Sutra)
Sports Ssireum wrestling | Taekwondo | Football (K League / Football champions / WK League / AFC Champions League) | Baseball (KBO League / National baseball team)
Economy Energy | Telecommunications | Tourism | Chaebol | Financial services | Fishing industry | Miracle on the Han River | Squatting | Trade unions | 1997 Asian financial crisis | Currency | Korea Stock Exchange | Companies | Housing in South Korea
Transport Subways (Seoul Metro / Incheon Metro / Busan MetroDaegu Metro / Gwangju Metro / Daejeon Metro) | Rail transport (KTX / SRT / Mugunghwa-ho / Nuriro) / Railway companies | Expressways | Airport
Science and technology Electronics | Automative industry | Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) | Nuclear power | Robotics
Geography Korean Peninsula | Island | Lake | Mountain | River | Province | Region | Administrative divisions | Environment | City | Special city | World Heritage Site
Demographics Koreatown | Name | Demographics | Aging | Low birth rate | International adoption | Korean language (Hangul / Hanja)
Other Seoul | Jeonju | Namsan Tower | Lotte World | Fashion | Coffee in South Korea | Etiquette


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Administrative divisions of South Korea
Seoul Busan Daegu Incheon Gwangju
Daejeon Ulsan Sejong Gyeonggi Province Gangwon State
North Chungcheong Province South Chungcheong Province Jeonbuk State South Jeolla Province North Gyeongsang Province
South Gyeongsang Province Jeju Province

Related portals

East Asia

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Web resources

  • The official website of the Republic of Korea (
  • The Official Korea Tourism Guide Site
  • Korea National Statistical Office
  • Video on South Korea-US Relations from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
  • "South Korea". The World Factbook (2024 ed.). Central Intelligence Agency.
  • A Country Study: South Korea in the Library of Congress
  • South Korea at Curlie
  • South Korea from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Korea OECD
  • South Korea profile from the BBC News
  • South Korea Encyclopædia Britannica entry
  • The War Memorial of Korea
  • Key Development Forecasts for South Korea from International Futures


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