Korea is situated on the Korean Peninsula, which spans 1,100 kilometers north to south. The Korean Peninsula lies on the northeastern section of the Asian continent, where Korean waters are joined by the western-most parts of the Pacific. The peninsula shares its northern border with China and Russia. To the east is the East Sea, beyond which neighboring Japan lies. To the west is the Yellow Sea. In addition to the mainland, Korea includes some 3,200 islands.
Korea encompasses a total of 223,098 square kilometers ― almost the same size as the United Kingdom or Ghana. Some 45 percent of this area, or 99,678 square kilometers, is considered cultivable area, excluding reclaimed land areas. Mountainous terrain accounts for some two-thirds of the territory like Portugal, Hungary or Ireland.
The Taebaeksan Mountain Range runs the full length of the east coast, where the lashing waves of the East Sea have carved out sheer cliffs and rocky islets. The western and southern slopes are rather gentle, forming plains and many offshore islands honeycombed with inlets.
The peninsula features so many scenic mountains and rivers that Koreans have often likened their country to a beautifully embroidered brocade. The highest peak is on Mt. Baekdusan in North Korea along the northern border facing China. It rises 2,744 meters above sea level and is an extinct volcano with a large crater lake named Cheonji. The mountain is regarded as an especially important symbol of the Korean spirit and is mentioned in Korea’s national anthem.
Considering its territorial size, Korea has a relatively large number of rivers and streams. These waterways played crucial roles in shaping the lifestyle of Koreans and in the nation’s industrialization. The two longest rivers in North Korea are the Amnokgang River (Yalu, 790 kilometers) and the Dumangang River (Tumen, 521 kilometers). These rivers originate from Mt. Baekdusan and flow to the west and the east, respectively. They form the peninsula’s northern border.
In the southern part of the peninsula, the Nakdonggang River (521.5 kilometers) and the Hangang River (481.7 kilometers) are the two major waterways. The Hangang River flows through Seoul, the capital of Korea, and serves as a lifeline for the heavily concentrated population in the central region of modern Korea, just as it did for the people of the ancient kingdoms that developed along its banks.
Surrounding the peninsula on three sides, the ocean has played an integral role in the lives of the Koreans since ancient times, contributing to the early development of shipbuilding and navigational skills
The Korean language belongs to the Altaic language family like Mongolian and Japanese. There are about 75 million people in the world who speak Korean, and according to a statistical ranking done in 2002, Korean is the 13th most spoken language in the world.
Hangeul is the Korean writing system. It is similar to the Latin alphabet, inasmuch as each individual symbol represents a single sound, not an idea.
As with many languages, Hangeul is written left to right. However, instead of each individual symbol being written next to each other on the same horizontal line, the symbols are grouped into characters, and each character consists of at least one consonant and one vowel symbol, representing a syllable. Thus a word of three syllables is written in Hangeul with three characters, each one composed of individual consonant and vowel symbols.
Hangeul was devised by King Sejong the Great (r. 1418-1450), who wanted his people to have a writing system of their own. At that time, the learned and noble people wrote in classical Chinese.
The Korean flag is called Taegeukgi. Its design symbolizes the principles of the yin and yang in Asian philosophy. The circle in the center of the flag is divided into two equal parts. The upper red section represents the proactive cosmic forces of the yang. Conversely, the lower blue section represents the responsive cosmic forces of the yin. The two forces embody the concepts of continual movement, balance, and harmony that characterize 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.
Koreans have loved the rose of Sharon for centuries. According to records, Koreans have treasured the rose of Sharon as a heavenly flower since ancient times. In fact, the Silla Kingdom called itself Mugunghwa Country. Even the ancient Chinese referred to Korea as “The land of gentlemen where Mugunghwa blooms.” Love for the flower was further heightened when Mugunghwa samcheolli hwaryeo gangsan” (“Rose of Sharon, thousand miles of beautiful mountain and river land!”) was written into the national anthem of the late 19th century. As the rose of Sharon has been an important part of the Korean culture for centuries, it was only natural that the government adopted it as the national flower after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.
There are more than 100 cultivars of the rose of Sharon indigenous to Korea. There are single, semi-double, and double types of flowers. Depending on the colors of flower, they are divided into 3 groups, Dansim (flower with red center), Baedal (pure white flower), and Asadal (pink dots on the edges of the petals). The Dansim, single types of flowers, serves as Korea’s national flower.
The rose of Sharon blooms from early July through late October. Some 2,000 to 3,000 bloom on a single plant, which is strong enough to survive even when it is transplanted or cut for decoration or flower arrangements. Thus, the flower represents the wish for lasting national development and prosperity.
Koreans cherish and care for the national flower as it symbolizes the many glories the country has experienced and the trials and tribulations the people have overcome.
Our national anthem is “Aegukga,” which means a “Love the Country.” In 1896, the Dongnip Sinmun (Independence News) published various versions of lyrics for this song. It is not known exactly what music they were sung to in its early days. Records show that a Western-style military band was formed during the time of the Dae-han Empire (1897-1910) and that “the Daehan Empire Aegukga” was composed in 1902 and played at important national functions.
The original words of Aegukga appeared in a written form around 1907 to inculcate allegiance to the nation and foster the spirit of independence as the country faced threats of foreign annexation. Over the years, the lyrics have gone through several versions until they were adopted as the national anthem in the present form in 1948.
Before the birth of the Republic in 1948, the words were often sung to the tune of the Scottish folk song, Auld Lang Syne. Maestro Ahn Eak-tai (1905-1965), then living in Spain, felt that it was inappropriate to sing this patriotic song to the tune of another country’s folk song. So, he composed new music to go with the lyrics in 1935, and the Korean Provisional Government in exile adopted it as the national anthem. While Koreans outside the country sang the anthem to the new tune, those at home continued to use Auld Lang Syne till after Korea was liberated in 1945.
The Republic of Korea Government in 1948 officially adopted the new version as the national anthem and began to use it at all schools and official functions.
National Song of South Korea
애국가 Aegukka – National anthem of South Korea
Baekdusani mareugo daltorok
Haneunimi bouhasa urinara manse ( ## )
Namsan wie jeo sonamu cheolgabeul dureun deut
Baram seori bulbyeonhameun uri gisangilse (##)
Gaeul haneul gonghwalhande nopgo gureum eopsi
Balgeun dareun uri gaseum ilpyeondansimilse (##)
I gisanggwa i mameuro chungseongeul dahayeo
Goerouna jeulgeouna nara saranghase (##)
##Mugunghwa samcheolli hwaryeogangsan
Daehan saram Daehaneuro giri bojeonhase
Of the three basic elements of life ― house, clothing and food ― the change in dietary habits has most significantly affected Koreans.
Rice still remains the staple of most Koreans, but among the younger generations, many prefer Western-style food.
Rice has been usually accompanied by various side dishes, mostly seasoned vegetables, soup, pot stew, and meat.
A traditional Korean meal is not complete without kimchi, a mixture of various pickled vegetables such as Chinese cabbage, radish, green onion and cucumber. Certain types of kimchi are made spicy with the addition of red chili pepper powder, while others are prepared without red chili peppers or are soaked in a tasty liquid. However, garlic is always used in kimchi to add to its flavor.
In late November or early December, Korean families used to prepare enough kimchi to last the long winter. The kimchi was stored in large clay jars partially buried to maintain temperature and retain flavor.
In modern Korea, housewives often don’t have time to make kimchi or the outdoor space needed to store large amounts. But kimchi is still a vital part of the Korean lifestyle: companies making the fermented dish and others selling special kimchi refrigerators enjoy brisk sales.
In addition to kimchi, doenjang (soybean paste), with its anti-cancer attributes, has attracted the attention of modern-day nutritionists. Koreans used to make doenjang at home by boiling yellow beans, drying them in the shade, soaking them in salty water, and fermenting them in sunlight. However, only a few families go through this process anymore; the majority buy factory-made doenjang.
Among meat dishes, seasoned bulgogi (usually beef) and galbi (beef or pork ribs) are the most favored by both Koreans and foreigners.kimche … hum nyummy XP
Korean Four Season