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Founding of the Republic

A special ceremony inaugurating the government of the Republic of Korea was held on August 15. 1948.
A special ceremony inaugurating the government of the Republic of Korea was held on August 15. 1948.
Koreans rejoiced at Japan's World War II defeat. However, their joy was short-lived. Liberation did not instantly bring about the independence for which the Koreans had fought so fiercely. Rather, it resulted in a country divided by ideological differences caused by the emerging Cold War. Korean efforts to establish an independent government were frustrated as U.S. forces occupied the southern half of the peninsula and Soviet troops took control of the north.

In November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that called for general elections in Korea under the supervision of a UN Commission.

However, the Soviet Union refused to comply with the resolution and denied the UN Commission access to the northern half of Korea. The UN General Assembly then adopted another resolution calling for elections in areas accessible to its commission.

The first elections in Korea were carried out on May 10, 1948, in the areas south of the 38th parallel. This parallel came to divide the Korean Peninsula into South and North.

Syngman Rhee was elected the first President of the Republic of Korea in 1948. Meanwhile, north of the 38th parallel, a communist regime was set up under the leadership of Kim Il-sung.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of the South, triggering a three-year war which drew in U.S., Chinese and other foreign forces. The entire peninsula was devastated by the conflict. A cease-fire was signed in July 1953.

Korea's growth-oriented, export-led economic development since the 1960s was so remarkable that it earned the expression "the Miracle on the Hangang River" in the 1970s. Subsequently, Seoul successfully hosted the 24th Olympics in 1988 and Korea co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup soccer finals with Japan. Through these occasions, Korea has demonstrated to the world its rich cultural heritage and love of art, as well as modern technologies. In the 1950s, Korea ranked among the poorest countries. Today, its economy is around the 13th largest in the world, and the nation is determined to become even more of a global economic leader throughout the new millennium.

The Republic of Korea has steadily followed the path to mature democracy and market economy. Even though the legacies of the Cold War still linger on this peninsula, Korea today is poised to make a new economic take-off. The Koreas are also working toward a durable structure of peace on the peninsula and promoting common prosperity for South and North Korea through peace, reconciliation and cooperation.

 
 

  Korea History  
   Gojoseon
People began living on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding areas from some 700,000 years ago. The Neolithic Age began some 8,000 years ago. Relics from that period can be found in areas throughout the Korean Peninsula, mostly in coastal areas and in areas near big rivers. The Bronze Age began around 1,500 to 2,000 B.C. in present-day Mongolia and on the peninsula. As this civilization began to form, numerous tribes appeared in the Lioaning region …
   Three Kingdoms and Gaya
Town-states gradually united into tribal leagues with complex political structures which eventually grew into kingdoms. Among various tribal leagues, Goguryeo (37 B.C.- A.D. 668), situated along the middle course of the Amnokgang (Yalu River), was the first to mature into a kingdom. Goguryeo's aggressive troops conquered neighboring tribes one after another, and in 313, they even occupied China's Lolang outposts. Baekje (18 …
   Unified Silla and Balhae

map of Unified Silla and Balhae (8th century) By the mid-sixth century, the Silla Kingdom had brought under its control all of the neighboring town-states within the Gaya Confederation. Through an alliance with the Tang Dynasty of China, Silla unified the Korean Peninsula in 668 and saw the zenith of its power and prosperity in the mid-eighth century. It attempted to establish an ideal Buddhist country. Bulguksa Temple was constructed during the Unified Silla period. However, its Buddhist social order began to deteriorate as the nobility indulged in increasing luxury. Silla had repelle…

   Goryeo
map of Goryeo Dynastry (11th century) The Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) was founded by Wang Geon, a general who had served under Gungye, a rebel prince of the Silla Kingdom. Choosing his native town of Songak (present-day Gaeseong in North Korea) as the capital, Wang Geon proclaimed the goal of recovering the lost territory of the Goguryeo Kingdom in northeast China. Wang Geon named his dynasty Goryeo, from which the modern name K…
   Joseon
map of Joseon Dynasty (15th century) In 1392, General Yi Seong-gye established a new dynasty called Joseon. The early rulers of Joseon, in order to counter the dominant Buddhist influence during the Goryeo period, supported Confucianism as the guiding philosophy of the kingdom. The Joseon rulers governed the dynasty with a well-balanced political system. A civil service examination system was the main channel for recruiting go…
   Japanese Occupation
Japanese Occupation and Korea's Independence Movement High-ranking officials from Korea's Provisional Government in Shanghai pose for a commemorative photo in 1945. In the 19th century, Korea remained a "Hermit Kingdom," adamantly opposed to Western demands for diplomatic and trade relations. Over time, a few Asian and European countries with imperialistic ambitions competed with each other for influence over the Korean Peninsula…
   Founding of the Republic
A special ceremony inaugurating the government of the Republic of Korea was held on August 15. 1948. Koreans rejoiced at Japan's World War II defeat. However, their joy was short-lived. Liberation did not instantly bring about the independence for which the Koreans had fought so fiercely. Rather, it resulted in a country divided by ideological differences caused by the emerging Cold War. Korean efforts to establish an indepen…
   Travel Advice
Visas : Most tourists can visit Korea for 15 days without a visa, provided they have a return ticket upon entry. Many nationals may stay for longer periods, one to six months, without visas under reciprocity agreements between Korea and their governments. Visitors planning to work or reside in Korea for longer periods must have a visa before entry and obtain an alien registration card from a local immigrati…
   Transportation
Getting to Korea Arrival by Air : Korea is connected by air to every major capital in the world, either through direct flights or by connecting flights from major international airports in East Asia. About 37 international airlines maintain regular services, with over 1,500 flights into and out of Korea every week. Korea has nine international airports: Incheon International Airport, which opened in March 2001, and Gimpo for Seoul; Gimhae for Bu…
   How to Travel Around Korea
Domestic flights : Most domestic destinations are within an hour's flight from Seoul. Gimpo Airport, located between the western area of Seoul and the newer Incheon International Airport, is primarily used for domestic travel and short flights to Japan and China. Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and a few domestic discount carriers handle all flights within the country. KTX Railway services : The Korea Railroad (KORAIL) operate…
   Accommodation
The Shilla Hotel in Seoul Visitors to Korea can choose from a wide range of quality accommodations, including hotels, inns, hostels, homestays and condominiums. Hotels : There is an extensive choice of hotels. An increasing number of hotels offer recreation facilities such as swimming pools, saunas, indoor driving ranges, bowling alleys and health clubs for their guests. There are also dance clubs…
   Discovering Korea
Seoul Located along the Hangang River, Seoul has grown into a teeming metropolis with a population of more than 10 million. Over the years, the capital city of Korea has greatly expanded in the process of urbanization and industrialization and continues to grow as the thriving center of the country's political, economic, cultural and educational activities. Seoul is the world's 10th-largest city. Its past and present coexist in a fascin…





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