Korea was under Japan’s imperial rule for thirty five years starting from 1910. In 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers which signaled the end of the Second World War. At this time Korea found itself under the rule of the Soviet Union and the Unites States of America, where the north was under the Soviet Union and the southern half was dominated by the Unites States of America. In 1948 (August 15), the Republic of Korea was established and Syngman Rhee became the first President. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was then established on September 9, 1948 under Kim II Sung.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The U.S., on behalf of the South Korea, led a 16-member coalition and undertook the first collective action under United Nations Command against the north, shifting the battle lines. The frontline was however stabilized upon China’s entry on behalf of North Korea in 1950. Internally, the South Korean Republic experienced political hardship under a dictatorial leadership which lasted for years.
However, a voiced civil society emerged and initiated strong protests against dictatorial rule, and in 1987, South Korea held its first democratic elections in many years; with Roh Moo-hyun as president. In 1992, Kim Young-sam was elected as president. The 1997 elections led to another step when Kim Dae-jung was elected as president. Roh Moo-hyun was then elected as president during the 2002 elections. Currently, South Korea is under the leadership of Lee Myung-bak who was elected in 2007.
Culture and Customs
Family is the most important part of Korean life. The father is usually the head of the family his responsibility is to provide food, clothing and shelter, and to approve the marriages of family members. Members of the family are tied to each other because the actions of one family member reflect on the rest of the family.
The Confucius’ teachings describe the position of an individual in Korean society. These teachings emphasize on duty, honor, filial piety, loyalty, respect for age and seniority, and sincerity.
Korean ancestors are based on the male family line. Children are raised with the belief that they are forever indebted to their parents, and can never repay the debt. Ancestral ceremonies are usually held for the previous three generations (great grandparents, grandparents, and parents) several times a year.
Greetings follow strict rules of protocol. Majority of South Koreans shake hands with emigrants after the bow. A person of lower status bows to a person of higher status, but it’s the most senior person who initiates the handshake. Before meeting a person one doesn’t know, information about that person is given to him/her in advance of the actual meeting. Upon leaving a social gathering, one has to say good-bye and bow to each person individually.
If one is invited to a South Korean's house, he/she may arrive up to 30 minutes late without explaining the cause. However, on arrival, one has to remove his/her shoes before entering the house. The host(s) greets each guest individually. He/she pours drinks for the guests in their presence. To bid farewell, the hosts accompany guests either to the gate or to their car(s). Finally, it is upon the guest to send a thank you note the next day after the dinner.
The Korean culture believes that gifts express a great deal about a relationship and must be reciprocated. It is therefore inconsiderate to give an expensive gift to someone if you know they cannot afford to reciprocate accordingly. A gift should be wrapped in a nice manner. Both hands are used when offering a gift, and they not be opened immediately when received.
Ancient South Korean Architecture had only limited few types of constructions like palaces, temples and houses of common people. Structural design during this historical era was greatly influenced by nature.
The natural environment has at all times been essential in Korean architecture. When choosing a building environment, the Korean culture considered the natural environment. The mountains, water and alignment with traditional principles of geomancy determined the most appropriate site. An ideal traditional house, also known as hanok, was built with the front facing the river and the mountains in the back. Houses in the southern region were built in an open I-shape.
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After the war, there was need to rebuild the country shattered by the civil war. The Korean architecture by Koreans began once again in domestic areas. Since South Korea was under the U.S., the American architecture assumed supremacy. Distinct architectural styles were determined by foreign governments, and a long period of development had begun. The Post Modern Korean Architecture was stimulated by rapid economic growth experienced throughout the 1970's, when overseas construction became popular. This phenomenon put large cities into the threshold of post-modernism and the third-generation architects. The post-modern architecture added richness to the Korean architecture creating an appealing look. These architects applied the aesthetics of advanced technology to their work.
South Korean has a great history of sports. For instance, of the traditional Sports instances, there is Kite flying, bull fighting and the Korean wrestling. Kite flying is where Kites are flown during the first few days of the Lunar New Year and Chuseok. Bull fighting involves two bulls fighting each other. The bulls lock on each other’s heads and push the opponent. The first bull to be pushed backwards loses the game. Korean wrestling is a kind of wrestling played in a sandy ring. The contenders attempt to throw each other down and the winner is the one who throws his opponent to the ground.
Taekwondo is one of the sports known to have originated from Korea, and is known to go back to as far as the 1st century BC. Hapkido is also known to have originated from Korea.
South Korea has also been characterized by major sport Events. The Summer Olympic Games, held in Seoul from September 17 to October 2, 1988, were the second summer Olympics games to be held in Asia (After Japan’s 1964). The FIFA World Cup was held in South Korea (and Japan) from May 31 to June 30, 2002. It was the first World cup held in Asia. Of the major events that are yet to happen, the Winter Olympic Games will be held in Pyeonchang, South Korea between the 9th and the 25th day of February, 2018. It will be the first winter Olympics games in South Korea.