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South Korea

Yearbook 2008

South Korea. According to Countryaah reports, South Korea's perhaps biggest cultural treasure, Namdaemunporten, was totally destroyed in February in a created fire. The gate, which was built in 1398, was made of wood and constituted a remnant of the old city wall that surrounded Seoul.

2008 South Korea

The country's newly elected president Lee Myung Bak quickly took a much tougher stance on North Korea than did former presidents Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Dae Jung. It prompted North Korea to warn in April that Lee's attitude could have "disastrous consequences".

That same month, President Lee's Conservative Party of the Great National Party (GNP) won a victory in the parliamentary elections with 153 of the 299 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party (UDP) won 81 seats and became the second largest party, even though its number of seats was halved compared to the last election. Han Seung Soo from the GNP was named Prime Minister. The 72-year-old diplomat He had previously been both finance minister and foreign minister.

During the year, relations with North Korea deteriorated again, after some bright spots were noted in 2007. In March, President Lee demanded greater respect for human rights on the part of North Korea and that the neighboring country followed the agreements on disarmament of the North Korean nuclear program previously signed. Otherwise, South Korea threatened to withdraw assistance. A low-water mark in the relationship came in July when a North Korean soldier shot to death a South Korean woman visiting the special tourist zone on the Kumgang Mountains inside North Korea. The woman must have accidentally entered a military barricade.

In October, the country's banks were hit by the international financial crisis. The South Korean banks had incurred high foreign debt and were now finding it difficult to pay off the loans. The same month, the government presented a financial rescue package of the equivalent of USD 130 billion to stabilize the banking system.

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