Culture South Korea

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Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination South Korea

South Korea : Discover the country's culture


"Stars"by Hwang Sun-Won.
"Lies" by Jang Sung Woo.


Korea. Lonely Planet.
Seoul. Lonely Planet City Guide.
Korea. Lonely Planet Guide (8th edition published in April 2010).

South Korea : Discover the country's history

Historical dates

2,333 BC: First mention of Gojoseon (in Korean, the "Land of the morning calm") in Chinese chronicles.
From 57 BC to 668 AD: pThe period of the "Three Kingdoms", Goguryeo to the north, Baekje and Silla to the south. From 668, the country became increasingly unified, under the aegis of the kingdom of Silla.
918: Foundation of the Goryeo dynasty, which gave its name to Korea. It lasted until 1392, when it was succeeded by the Joseon dynasty. Theoretically independent, the kingdom remained under Chinese influence for almost a thousand years.
1592: First invasion (repelled by General Yi Sun-chin, a national hero) of Korea by Japan.
1636: Manchurian invasion.
18th century: Upsurge of the Christian doctrine in Korea.
1905: At the end of the Russian-Japanese war, Korea became a Japanese protectorate, by treaty.
29th August 1910: Annexation of Korea by Japan. For 35 years, the country was literally wiped off the map.
1945: Military defeat of Japan. Korea became independent again, but was divided into two rival states at the 38th parallel (the north, Marxist, and the south, under American control) .
25th June 1950: North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel. This was the beginning of the Korean War, where East and West indirectly clashed on Korean soil.
27th July 1953: The armistice was signed. However, the status quo remained, with the peninsula being divided into two entities around the 38th parallel.
Post-war: In South Korea, succession of authoritarian regimes and military coups d'état until the 80s. Martial law, censorship, repression.
December 1987: first presidential elections for 25 years. Roh Tae-woo, was elected.
1988: Olympic Games in Seoul.
1992: first presidential elections by direct universal suffrage. Victory of Kim Young-sam and the real birth of democracy in the Republic of Korea.
1997: Election of President Kim Dae-jung, 15th President of the Republic of Korea (always in opposition, he was persecuted by the military regimes governing the country for a long time).
2000: South and North Korea announced a summit meeting of their leaders on 13th June, the first since signing the armistice in 1953. Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his pursuit of the "Sunshine Policy", a series of efforts to reconcile with North Korea.
2002: The FIFA World Cup was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan December 2002: Roh Moo-hyun was elected to the presidency by direct election.
March 2004: The National Assembly voted to impeach Roh on charges of breach of election laws and corruption; he was reinstated in May by the Constitutional Court, who had overturned the verdict.
2009: Roh Moo-hyun and his family members were investigated for bribery and corruption. Roh denied the charges, but subsequently committed suicide by jumping into a ravine on May 23, 2009.
2008: Roh's successor, Lee Myung-bak, was inaugurated. 2010: The G20 summit was held in Seoul, where issues regarding the global economic crisis were discussed.

South Korea : Stay up to date on the country's holidays and events


1st January: New Year's Day, New Lunar Year.
1st day of 1st lunar month: Seol, or Korean New Year's Day.
February: Folk festival, in Yongsan (bullfighting).
1st March: Ceremony in Seoul in honour of Confucius; Independence Movement Day.
April: Festival of flowering cherry trees, in Jinhae (south of the country), Festival of King Danjong, in Yeongwol (music and dancing).
5th May: Childrens' Day
May, various dates: Buddha's Birthday, Chongmyo Taeje (rite of the Seoul royal sanctuary). The first Sunday of the month, Sejong cultural festival in Yeoju (dances, procession of lanterns), Arang festival in Miryang (beauty contest).
June: Dano Festival in Gangneung (shamanic dancing, theatre).
6th June: Memorial Day
From 18 to 24 June: the Taekwondo Festival in Jincheon (in the province of Chungcheonbuk-do), which involves 30 participating countries. Seminars and demonstrations of various martial arts are also on the programme. For more information:
July: Mud Festival in Poryeong (mud games, mud massages, photo competitions, dancing, and nautical games).
17th July: Constitution Day
August: Dance Festival in Miryang. Chuncheon puppet festival.
15th August: Liberation Day
September: Gangjin cultural celadon festival (pottery), Geumsan ginseng festival, beginning of Chuseok ceremonies, the biggest traditional celebration of the year, everywhere in Korea.
15th day of 8th lunar month: (mid-September) Chuseok, or Harvest Moon Festival
October: Namdo Culinary Festival (village of Nagan Eupseong), Andong folk festival, cultural festival of Mount Seoraksan, Halla cultural festival on the island of Jeju, Suwon galbi (grilled beef ribs) festival, Shilla cultural festival in Kyongju, Gwangju gimchi (marinated cabbage) festival.
25th December: Christmas Day

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