Top 10 facts about South Korea
South Korea is a strange world based on a duality of apparent contrasts between cutting-edge technology and traditions that are equally rooted in millennia. The result is hyper-avant-garde cities like the future world capital of Seoul, and mud-and-earth villages with thousand-year-old temples on a frame, one step away from skyscrapers and very towers. Scattered almost everywhere in the main population centers of the country, Korean villages testify to the strong roots of Koreans in their traditions, which is also reflected in the cult of gastronomy, language, and writing.
Still little known to tourism, it is perhaps in the “non-material” aspect of its heritage that the destination presents its biggest surprises, consisting of a thousand-year-old culture strongly influenced by Confucianism to lay down the core values of a social ethic based on respect and harmony in human relationships.
Geography and population
The territory is mostly mountainous in the eastern part, while flat areas extend to the west and south. The climate is temperate, temperate continental, with monsoonal influence. Winter is not very cold and dry, and the average January temperature is only -5 degrees.
South Korea shares borders with only one country, North Korea. From all other sides, it is washed by the seas.
The Republic of Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. If the demographic trend fluctuated until the middle of the twentieth century as a result of wars and famines, then the population doubled in the second half of the century with an average annual increase of about 3% between the late 1950s and early 1960s, due to economic and organizational processes of modernization, affecting the country.
The population density is higher in the northwestern and southern regions, where vast flat areas extend and where both rural and urban settlement is traditionally more density; moreover, in the plains open to maritime influence, the climatic conditions are distinctly less continental than in the rest of the country, and much more favorable for agriculture, so that in some cases two crops a year can be harvested.
The total population of the country in 2021 is about 51 million people.
There is only one state language in the Republic - Korean. It has a fairly complex sign system. The language has several dialects distributed throughout the peninsula.
The locals also speak good English.
The official currency of the Republic of Korea is the Korean Won.
In 2022, 1 won is worth $0.0007.
South Korea has very good internet and cellular communication is one of the best in the world. You can go online not only in cafes, restaurants or shopping centers - the connection is available even on public transport. Such an innovation appeared in 2020.
The Republic also has the fastest internet in the world. In the country, the 5G communication standard appeared earlier than others, and now the connection speed is about 449 Mbps. For comparison, in the United States, the speed is about 44 Mbps, and in Taiwan, which ranks second in the connection speed rating, this figure is 135 Mbps.
To have a permanent Internet connection, for long trips you need to purchase a SIM card. You can limit yourself to a virtual card, which will cost about $30 per month.
You can also purchase a local SIM card at the airport or company store. Operators KT and SK Telecom are common, but keep in mind that only KT can buy a card forever - other companies offer tourists only rentals. An unlimited plan will cost an average of $8 per day.
Most of the areas that are today part of South Korea used to have a traditional agricultural purpose. Climatic and soil conditions, the relative scarcity of minerals and the concentration of industries in the northern regions before the division of Korea confirmed this specialization. After the war, the country found itself forced to equip itself with an industrial system, without, however, being able to neglect the primary industries necessary for a rapidly growing population.
In the 1970s, the country transitioned from a predominantly rural economy to an industrial one. After the normalization of relations between the two countries, foreign investment, first American and then Japanese, played a significant role in launching the process of industrialization and incorporating the South Korean economic system into the international trade network necessary both for the supply of raw materials and for the placement of finished products.
An important component of the country's industrial development was the greater availability of labor, whose working conditions until recent years were kept at such a low level that they could be competitive even with working conditions in much less developed countries. The rapidity of structural changes in the economic sphere has also fueled strong social and political tensions, which have not yet been fully resolved, as well as a very noticeable disproportion in the distribution of income, which, however, has decreased in recent decades.
Only in recent years, both to contain social protests and to expand the domestic consumer market, policies more favorable to workers have been introduced, resulting in an overall increase in income and purchasing power.
International agencies list South Korea as one of the most advanced or "wealthy" countries, but it may be more correct to consider its per capita income as medium-high.
4% of the active population is engaged in agriculture. The main crop remains traditional rice, which is distributed primarily in the western part of the country, with a very high yield; other agricultural products, including some cereals, are also intended for local consumption (potatoes, fruits, vegetables); in general, the country has not achieved food self-sufficiency and no longer strives for it: on the contrary, it is one of the main food importers. Significantly expanded, also in line with reforestation programs and fairly strict controls on deforestation. Sericulture and especially fishing, as well as breeding poultry and pigs, are topical.
Minerals include coal used to generate electricity, iron, and silver. The availability of coal and iron contributed to the development of the industry.
The country's GDP in 2020 was $1.6 trillion.
Job in South Korea
The minimum wage in South Korea is $7 per hour, about $1,100 per month. Representatives of unskilled labor are the lowest paid employees: for example, the average cashier or waiter receives about $26,000 a year, that is, about $2,000 a month.
Qualified professionals earn very well. Representatives of the IT industry, engineers, doctors, and dentists are highly demanded specialties that are adequately paid.
For example, programmers can earn up to $6,000 per month. Auditors, engineers, and architects - about $3,500 per month. An ordinary school teacher, a kindergarten teacher, or an accountant, as in most countries, has a relatively modest income: about $ 2,600 per month.
The unemployment rate in the country is quite low - it is only about 3% -4%. But in the process of employment, preference is still given to Koreans rather than foreigners, and in order to get a good position, you need to have a sought-after specialty, valid education documents, extensive experience, and recommendations. Foreigners are rarely hired in advertising, management, and finance, and they are not taken to public positions at all.
You can get a job, for example, as a technical specialist or in a low-skilled job where you do not need to interact with other people - colleagues or clients.
South Korea is a very expensive country. The local population often suffers from a credit burden. An ordinary hostel with not the best conditions will cost at least $44 per person. A cup of coffee in a coffee shop is about $4, and dinner in an average restaurant for two is about $35.
Small one-room apartments in the city will cost $850 and up. Housing in South Korea is very small in area, this should be taken into account. For utilities, you will need to pay about $ 150 per month, excluding telecommunications and mobile Internet payments.
The cost of standard products in South Korean supermarkets:
- 12 eggs - about $3
- A kilogram of chicken fillet - about $ 11
- A kilogram of potatoes - about $ 4
- Local cheese, 1 kg - about $17
- Tomatoes, 1 kg - about $7
- Apples, 1 kg - about $8
Education and medicine
South Korea has a very developed education, to which a large part of the population has access. Education in primary school lasts 6 years, 3 years children must study in secondary school. High school - 3 more years: after graduating from it, the student receives a secondary specialized education in the chosen field. This stage is not mandatory, but it is necessary to pass it in order to enter the university.
After school, the applicant has a huge selection of good public and private universities, the term of study in which is 4 years for most specialties.
Korean universities willingly accept foreigners with any documents on secondary school education. The cost of training is cheaper than in Europe, the training itself is conducted in English, and the received document is quoted all over the world and provides career advantages.
Medicine in South Korea is also considered one of the best in the world. The state occupies a leading position in the ranking of countries for medical tourism: local healthcare specializes not only in therapeutic treatment but also in plastic surgery.
Medical care for citizens is provided mainly on the basis of an insurance policy. The government allocates a large share of the budget to keep health care cost-effective and equally accessible to all categories of the population.
Working days and holidays
New Year - January 1st
Seollal - February 2nd
Independence Movement Day - March 1st
Labor Day - May 1st
Buddha's birthday - May 8
Constitution Day - July 17
Liberation Day - August 15
September 9-11 - Chuseok
Day of the Foundation of the State - October 3
Zingyl - October 9
Christmas - December 25
Like many representatives of Asian peoples, Koreans are a very hardworking nation. They devote a lot of time to work and attach great importance to a career: this is why a large part of the population seeks to get a higher education.
They are characterized by feigned politeness and hospitality, but in fact, Koreans are in no hurry to start close relationships, especially with foreigners, and coming to an invitation to a guest or a restaurant is usually nothing more than a formality.
Relations between parents and children are somewhat different from European ones. The latter is in no hurry to fly off into an independent life, they can stay in the parental home for a long time, building a career.
The attitude towards cryptocurrencies in South Korea is tense. The authorities impose some prohibitions (for example, on trading their own tokens for exchanges) and try to regulate the industry as much as possible. There is also a 20% tax on digital asset trading. Despite this, they are in rather high demand among the local population.
South Korea is an amazing country. High-tech, industrial, while preserving its cultural heritage, which is of interest all over the world. It is worth visiting the Republic at least once in a lifetime.