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A Snapshot of South Korea

A Snapshot of South Korea
  • Korean Sketches (by )
  • Quaint Korea (by )
  • Korea; Its History, Its People, And Its ... (by )
  • Korean Games : With Notes on the Corresp... (by )
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People around the world are getting ready to tune into the scene in South Korea, since it will host the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from February 9th to 25th in Pyeongchang County. 

Many South Koreans believed that the Winter Games presented an ideal way to promote the country’s mountains and scenic vistas; but, one month before the games, ticket sales were still sluggish as tensions with North Korea continue to dominate headlines.
Within the last few decades, South Korea has gone through quite a transformation. Globalization and political and economic development have reshaped its society and impacted the culture. The poor, agrarian society the world once knew has developed into a highly industrialized nation.

South Korea’s modern-day economy is driven by manufacturing, specifically the production of electronics, machinery, computers, cars, ships, and optical, technical and medical apparatus. There’s also been a rise in information technology and venture-capital investment. 

Those addicted to their iPhones would be at ease in this country, which ranked No. 1 for the twelfth consecutive quarter for the world’s fastest internet connection speed (Akamai Korea). Complimentary wi-fi is available in all public places.

Historically South Korea is a homogenous society. Ethnic nationalism relates to the fact that Koreans are  a nation, race, and an ethnic group that shares the same  bloodline. Anti-discrimination laws don’t exist in Korea, so bars and restaurants are permitted to ban non-Koreans from entering.
In Korean Sketches, James S. Gale writes, “The people of Korea claim to be a race descended from the gods, slightly admixed with Chinese. No wonder they develop at times extraordinary traits. They have had a horror of foreigners,‘yangin,’ or men of the sea, from time immemorial.”

In recent years, immigration policies shifted as multiculturalism became more intricately woven into the fabric of society as declining birthrates and the lowest fertility rate among developed countries sparked change. Cheaper migrant labor, mainly from China, led to an increased use of the Chinese language and more consumption of its food. Louise Jorden Miln addresses Korea’s relationship with China and Japan in Quaint Korea.

Government data from 2016 cites that South Korea’s foreign population recently surpassed 1.76 million people and now accounts for approximately 3.4 percent of the population.

The Confucian philosophies, which emphasize respect for ancestors, age, and seniority still influence the culture, but have less impact than in previous years.  

For more on Korea’s culture, including past industries, former trade conditions, manners and morals, and more, read Korea; Its History, Its People, And Its Commerce.

By Regina Molaro

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