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South Korea or Taehan Minguk

South Korea is officially known as Taehan Minguk (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 countrys 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 Taebaek-sanmaek, which extends in a north-south direction parallel to the eastern coast. The countrys 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 countrys tow longest rivers, the Naktong and Han, rise in the Taebaek-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 countrys 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 Hangol 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 Chendogyo, 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. illion 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 Womens 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 countrys 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 Sillas 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-Hungs rule, a code of conduct was established bye the Hawarand-Do that became the core of Sillas 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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