South Korea. 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.
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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of KR in general and in geography as South Korea in particular.
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.
General information about South Korea
South Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and urbanization has been rapid. The capital, Seoul, is home to more than a quarter of the country’s citizens. The Hangang River crosses this metropolis of more than ten million inhabitants. A good overview of Seoul can be obtained from the top of Seoul Tower. It is also easy to get around Seoul by subway. The southern port city of Pusan was a major site in the Korean War. Today Pusan is famous for its seafood and stunning beaches.
South Korea has developed into one of the Asian economic powers, one of the “little tigers” of the world economy. The best known companies are probably Daewoo, Hyundai and Samsung. Diversified industrial production and fishing are the main industries. South Koreans have been characterized as workaholic because of the long working days and few holidays.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of South Korea in 2008 was 49,545,525, ranking number 26 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.340% yearly, and the population density was 509.5715 people per km2.