Information Korea facts

1. Korea General

The Republic of Korea (herein after Korea) is a country visited by more than ten million international travellers every year. With its long history in culture and tradition, the country has a lot to offer to travellers. Continue reading to learn general information about Korea before visiting.

 

National Symbols

  • Country Name: Republic of Korea (South Korea)
  • National Flag: Taegeukgi
  • National Flower: Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon)
  • Capital: Seoul Special City
  • Official Language: Korean

 

General Information

  • Location: Northeast Asia
  • Area: 100,210㎢
  • Population: Approx. 51 million
  • Time Zone: GMT +9
  • Climate: Continental climate *Winter (Dec~Feb), Spring(Mar~May), Summer (June~Aug), Autumn (Sept~Nov)
  • Electricity: 220V (60 Hertz,  the outlet has two round holes)

2. Currency & Credit Cards


The monetary unit used in Korea is the won (₩). Bank notes come in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000won bills and 10, 50, 100, 500won coins. Major credit cards are widely accepted, but some small shops, restaurants and traditional markets only accept cash. For cash withdrawal or exchange, banks and ATMs are easy to find throughout Korea. Currency exchange is also available at hotels or private tellers in major tourist areas.


3. International Calls

  • How to make an international call to Korea.
    When you make a phone call to Korea from abroad, first dial 82 (country code for Korea), then the area code (except for the first number 0). Finally, dial the phone number you wish to call.
    – For example: Calling Seoul (area code 02) with 777-7777 as the phone number, dial +82-2-777-7777.
  • How to make an international call from Korea
    – First, dial any of the following international call company numbers, and then the country code, area code and finally the number you are calling.
    – International Phone Call Carriers: 001, 002, 008, 00365, 00700 and more.
    – Pre-paid Phone Cards: Pre-paid phone cards are available at convenience stores, major drug store chains, bookstores and newspaper stands.

4. Public Holiday 2017

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Seollal (January 27-29, 30 is a substitute holiday)
    Lunar New Year’s Day (Seollal) is one of the most important traditional holidays of the year; the holiday is much more significant than January 1st. Most businesses are closed and people take several days off from work to visit their hometowns to be with their family. On the day of Seollal, everyone gets up early, puts on their best clothes and bows to their elders as a reaffirmation of family ties. Feasts are held with specially prepared food such as Tteokguk and Manduguk. People play traditional games, fly kites or spin tops.
  • Independence Movement Day (March 1)
  • Buddha’s Birthday (May 3)
    Falls on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, elaborate and solemn rituals are held at many Buddhist temples across the country and lanterns are hung in the temple courtyards. The Sunday before Buddha’s birthday these lanterns are lit and carried in parades in the evening.
  • Children’s Day (May 5)
  • Memorial Day (June 6)
  • Liberation Day (August 15)
  • National Foundation Day (October 3)
  • Chuseok (October 3-5, 6 is a substitute holiday)
    Chuseok is one of the year’s most important traditional holidays. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Chuseok is often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving Day. It’s a celebration of the harvest and thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth. Family members come from all over the country to visit their ancestral homes.
  • Hangeul Day (October 9)
  • Christmas (December 25)

5. Weather

  • Spring (March~May)
    Warm and sunny days with big daily temperature range. Recommended to have light jacket handy.
  • Summer (June~August)
    Temperatures range in the upper 20s to lower 30ºC (80~85ºF). Mid-June to early July falls into the rainy season, so be sure to pack an umbrella.
  • Fall (September~November)
    Although a bit dry and breezy, it is one of the best times to travel in Korea. Due to big daily temperature changes, it is recommended to pack a light jacket.
  • Winter (December~February)
    With average temperatures dropping below 0ºC, winters are very cold, dry and snowy. Heavy coats and gloves are a must.

Current weather in Korea >


6. History

2000 BCE – Gojoseon (2333BCE~108BCE)
500 – Three Kingdoms Period (57BCE~668CE)
– Silla (57BCE~935CE)

CE
– Goguryo (37BCE~668CE)
– Baekje (18BCE~660CE)
– Gaya (42~562)
500
– Unified Silla Period (676~935)
– Balhae Kingdom (698~926)
– Goryeo Dynasty (918~1392)
1000

– Joseon Dynasty (1392~1910)
1500

– Japanese Colonial Period (1910 ~ 1945)
– Establishment of the Republic of Korea (1948)
– The Korean War (1950-1953)
2000

7. Traditional Culture

Korean Language: Hangeul

Hangeul, one of the most indigenous and unique creations of the nation, was introduced in 1443 by King Sejong (1418-1450), the 4th king of the Joseon Dynasty. In order to help all commoners to easily read and write this new alphabet, Hunminjeongeum (meaning “Proper sounds to instruct the people” in Korean) was created. In 1910, the name of the language was changed to Hangeul, a term widely used today. Hangeul, as a written language, did not have any influence from pre-existing writing systems. The language is very easy for all to learn, evidenced by Korea’s illiteracy rates being one of the lowest in the world. Of all Korea’s cultural assets, the citizens are most proud of Hangeul and thus designated every October 9th as Hangeul Day, to memorialize and celebrate the invention of the alphabet. In addition, UNESCO inscribed Hunminjeongeum Haerye; The Hangeul Manuscript, on the Memory of the World Register in 1997.

 

Korean Traditional Clothes: Hanbok

Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people, worn daily up until just 100 years ago. It is a formal dress and most Koreans keep a hanbok for special times in their life. While the traditional hanbok was beautiful in its own right, the design has changed slowly but surely over the generations. The core of hanbok is its graceful shape and vibrant colours, which have had a major impact on the modern fashion industry. It is hard to think of hanbok as everyday wear but it is slowly being revolutionized through the changing of fabrics, colours and features, reflecting the public’s desires. Many aspiring hanbok designers have altered hanbok for everyday wear with traditional elements at the basis of the garment but having a distinct modern feel.

 

Korean Traditional Food: Hansik

Hansik refers to traditional Korean food, centred around rice, served alongside a bowl of soup and a variety of side dishes. Most foods use meat and vegetables as the main ingredients and are soaked in a brine or water rather than fried in oil, making hansik wonderful for ones health. More than anything else, hansik’s most outstanding feature is the amount of fermented foods, which are beneficial in improving digestion, as well as preventing cancer. The most well-known fermented foods are kimchi (fermented cabbage), ganjang (soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste) and gochujang (Korean chili paste). Popular dishes among international eaters include bulgogi, bibimbap. Bulgogi is a marinated beef or sometimes pork dish that is sweet and tender in texture. In particular, the soy sauce seasoning is not spicy, thus making it a great introduction dish to hansik. Bibimbap, on the other hand, is a complete meal in and of itself, mixing rice with all kinds of condiments of one’s choice, topped with gochujang for that extra kick.

 

Korean Traditional Houses: Hanok

Hanok refers to houses built in the traditional Korean style. These days, most people who are still living in such traditional tile-roofed hanok have modern facilities installed within. There are two main charms to hanoks. The first is the unique heating system of ‘ondol.’ A layer of stone is laid down above the flooring and when heated, the heat spreads up into every room throughout the house, keeping both the floor and the air surprisingly warm in winter. The second attractive point to hanok houses is that they are environmentally-friendly. The materials needed to build a hanok house are free from chemicals, making it a good healthy environment. The columns, rafters, doors, windows and floor are wooden, while the walls are a mixture of straw and dirt. The paper to cover the frames of doors and windows were made from tree pulp. As the building materials used are all natural, hanok houses have excellent breathability, perfect for escaping the summer heat. It is also said to help in the treatment of atopic dermatitis and other modern skin diseases.
Experience the traditional culture for yourself through the many hanok villages in Korea, including Jeonju Hanok Village, Andong Hahoe Folk Village, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namsangol Hanok Village and Naganeupseong Folk Village.

 

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