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South Korea

Country in N Asia, W of Japan and S of North Korea. After World War II, there was to be a united Korea, but Soviet forces had occupied the North peninsula, and Americans the south with a dividing line at the 38th parallel. In 1948 the Republic of South Korea was declared in the south, and in 1949, the Americans had left the country. In 1950 North Korea invaded and American and UN troops counterattacked and pushed the North Koreans back north.

The Korean War lasted until 1953, as Chinese and North Korean forces battled American and UN troops. A demilitarized zone was set up on the border allow the 38th parallel. Syngman Rhee was the first president of South Korea, and Park Chung Hee, who overthrew the government in 1961, ruled until he was assassinated in 1979. After a period of internal turmoil, Chun Doo Hwan was elected president in 1980.

In 1980, prodemocracy demonstrations in Gwangju were brutally suppressed with many dead. The economy prospered, but unrest led to a new constitution in 1987 that required direct election of the president for a term of five years.

In 1988 Roh Tae Woo was elected president. Roh attempted to improve relations with opposition politicians and with the North, also establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1990 and China in 1992. In 1992 Kim Young Sam, became the first nonmilitary leader of South Korea since the Korean War. President Kim launched a campaign to eliminate corruption and administrative abuse and began to encourage economic cooperation with the North. In 1996 former presidents Chun and Roh, as well as other 14 former generals were tried, on charges arising from corruption and on charges in connection with the 1979 coup following Park’s death and the 1980 Gwangju massacre. South Korea’s economy suffered during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, forcing the country to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund. Kim Dae Jung, a prominent opposition leader was elected president in 1997. In 2000 Kim met with North Korean ruler Kim Jong Il.

In 2002 ruling party cand idate Roh Moo Hyun, was elected despite many allegations of corruption in Kim’s regime. Roh was impeached in 2004 for giving support against rules of presidential neutrality for the new liberal Uri Party. Roh survived and the Uri Party won a majority in the 2004 elections. Roh announced that a new capital would be constructed in the center of the country, but a constitutional court ruled that a referendum or a constitutional amendment would be required before any move could be made. The country continues to negotiate with North Korea, China, Russia, and the United States over reductions in North Korea’s weapons programs, often trading food, power, and resources for North Korean concessions. The capital of South Korea is Seoul.

South Korea is the richest and the most advanced of the two Korean States. Arguably there are more places to travel to in South Korea than in North Korea as tourists are encouraged to visit the country. The division of Korea dates back to 1945 when Japanese control of the country ended. South Korea has been aa capitalist if not always a democratic state since then. The development of the nation has been remarkable and the capital Seoul is now one of the largest cities in Asia. It boosted the numbers of visitors it received when it hosted the Olympic games in 1988.

Seoul happens to be one of the most advanced cities in the world, yet has more than it's share of interesting places to visit. For example there is the N Seoul Tower. The capital has some historic buildings remaining too, while there were ancient Buddhist temples throughout the country. Visitors to Seoul can travel to view the War Memorial of Korea as well.

Outside of Seoul there is no shortage of places that people can visit ranging from fishing villages to other cities. Travelers could even go hiking in the countryside. Other popular destinations include Busan, Daegu, and Incheon, the latter gaining fame from the battle fought there during the Korean War.


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