Important Things to Know About South Korea

A Geographic and Educational Overview of South Korea

Old fortress gate with light trails at downtown
Sungjin Kim / Getty Images

South Korea is the country making up the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. It is surrounded by the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea and is around 38,502 square miles (99,720 sq km). Its border with North Korea is at a ceasefire line, which was established at the end of the Korean War in 1953 and corresponds roughly to the 38th parallel. The country has a long history that was dominated by either China or Japan until the end of World War II, at which time Korea was divided into North and South Korea. Today, South Korea is densely populated and its economy is growing as it is known for producing high-tech industrial goods.

Fast Facts: South Korea

  • Official Name: Republic of Korea
  • Capital: Seoul
  • Population: 51,418,097 (2018)
  • Official Language: Korean 
  • Currency: South Korean won (KRW)
  • Form of Government: Presidential republic
  • Climate: Temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter; cold winters
  • Total Area: 38,502 square miles (99,720 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Halla-san at 6,398 feet (1,950 meters) 
  • Lowest Point: Sea of Japan at 0 feet (0 meters)

10 Things to Know About the Country of South Korea

  1. South Korea's population as of July 2009 was 48,508,972. Its capital, Seoul, is one of its largest cities with a population of over 10 million.
  2. The official language of South Korea is Korean, but English is taught widely in the country's schools. In addition, Japanese is common in South Korea.
  3. The population of South Korea is composed of 99.9% Korean but 0.1% the population is Chinese.
  4. The dominant religious groups in South Korea are Christian and Buddhist. However, a large percent of South Koreans claim no religious preference.
  5. South Korea's government is a republic with a single legislative body that is comprised of the National Assembly or Kukhoe. The executive branch is made up of chief of state who is the country's president and a head of government who is the prime minister.
  6. Most of South Korea's topography is mountainous with its highest point being Halla-san at 6,398 feet (1,950 m). Halla-san is an extinct volcano.
  7. Around two-thirds of the land in South Korea is forested. This includes the mainland and some of the more than 3,000 small islands that are located on the country's southern and western coasts.
  8. The climate of South Korea is temperate with cold winters and hot, wet summers. The average January temperature for Seoul, South Korea's capital city, is 28 degrees (-2.5°C) while the average August high temperature is 85 degrees (29.5°C).
  9. South Korea's economy is high-tech and industrialized. Its main industries include electronics, telecommunications, auto production, steel, shipbuilding, and chemical production. Some of South Korea's largest companies include Hyundai, LG, and Samsung.
  10. In 2004, South Korea opened a high-speed rail line called Korea Train Express (KTX), which ia based on the French TGV. The KTX runs from Seoul to Pusan and Seoul to Mokpo and transports over 100,000 people daily.
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Briney, Amanda. "Important Things to Know About South Korea." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 27). Important Things to Know About South Korea. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Important Things to Know About South Korea." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 24, 2023).