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Korea - Click here for Terms & Conditions


About Korea

South Korea, country in East Asia. It occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. The country is bordered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) to the north, the East Sea (Sea of Japan) to the east, the East China Sea to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west; to the southeast it is separated from the Japanese island of Tsushima by the Korea Strait. South Korea makes up about 45 percent of the peninsula’s land area. The capital is Seoul (Sŏul).
Terracotta Army aka Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Terra-cotta sculptures in the tomb of the first Qin emperor Shihuangdi, near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China. Chi'n Shih Huang Ti
Korea was once a colony of Japan.

South Korea faces North Korea across a demilitarized zone (DMZ) 2.5 miles (4 km) wide that was established by the terms of the 1953 armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War (1950–53). The DMZ, which runs for about 150 miles (240 km), constitutes the 1953 military cease-fire line and roughly follows latitude 38° N (the 38th parallel) from the mouth of the Han River on the west coast of the Korean peninsula to a little south of the North Korean town of Kosŏng on the east coast.

Geography

Korea is a 750-mile-long (1,200-kilometer-long) peninsula located in the easternmost part of the Asian continent. Today, the country is split into South and North Korea, but in the minds of most of its citizens, it remains a single nation that cannot be divided.
South Korea has many mountains, but they are small compared with others around the world. Over millions of years, their peaks have been worn down by rain and wind. Most summits are below 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).

On South Korea's Jeju Island and along a narrow strip in the south, high humidity and rainfall give rise to tropical evergreen jungles. The peninsula is also surrounded by about 3,000 volcanic islands.

Transportation

Subway
Six cities have a subway system: Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju and Incheon. The subway (also referred to as the metro) is a cheap and convenient way of getting around these major cities, and since signs and station names are in English as well as Korean, it is foreigner-friendly and easy to use.
Taxi
Taxis are numerous almost everywhere and fares are inexpensive. Every taxi has a meter that works on a distance basis but switches to a time basis when the vehicle is stuck in a traffic jam. Tipping is not a local custom and is not expected or necessary.
Ilban (regular taxis) cost around ₩3300 for the first 2km with a 20% surcharge from midnight to 4am, while the pricier mobeom (deluxe taxis; black with a yellow top) that exist in some cities cost around ₩5500 for the first 3km but with no late-night surcharge.
Any expressway tolls are added to the fare. In the countryside check the fare first as there are local quirks, such as surcharges or a fixed rate to out-of-the-way places with little prospect of a return fare.
Since few taxi drivers speak English, plan how to communicate with the driver; if you have a mobile phone you can also use the 1330 tourist advice line to help with interpretation. Ask to be dropped off at a nearby landmark if the driver doesn’t understand what you’re saying or doesn’t know where it is. It can be useful to write down your destination or a nearby landmark in hangeul on a piece of paper.
T-Money Cards
Bus, subway, taxi and train fares can all be paid using the rechargeable, touch-and-go T-Money Card (http://eng.t-money.co.kr); the card provides a ₩100 discount per trip. The basic card can be bought for a nonrefundable ₩3000 at any subway-station booth, bus kiosks and convenience stores displaying the T-Money logo across the country. Reload it with credit at any of the aforementioned places and get money refunded that hasn’t been used (up to ₩20,000 minus a processing fee of ₩500) at subway machines and participating convenience stores before you leave. A competitor, but less widely accepted and available, card is Cash Bee. Both cards can be used to purchase goods at convenience stores and from vending machines.
T-Money cards are highly recommended because of the convenience but also the discounts offered when transferring to a different bus or train route. In Seoul for example, you can transfer within 30 minutes of one trip and potentially pay only ₩100 for the second leg of the journey.
Bus
Local city buses provide a frequent and inexpensive service (from ₩1200 a trip, irrespective of how far you travel), and although rural buses provide a less-frequent service, many run on an hourly or half-hourly basis. Put the fare in the glass box next to the driver – make sure you have plenty of ₩1000 notes because the machines only give coins in change.
The main problem with local buses is finding and getting on the right bus – bus timetables, bus-stop names and destination signs on buses are rarely in English, and bus drivers usually don't speak English. Writing your destination in big hangeul (Korean phonetic alphabet) letters on a piece of paper will be helpful. Local tourist information centres usually have English-speaking staff; these are the best places to find out which local bus goes where, and where to pick it up. The app Naver Map is available in English and has accurate journey planner information for the whole country.

Languages

The Korean language belongs to the the Koreanic language family. The modern form of Korean developed from Middle Korean. This itself had developed from Old Korean which had developed from the kind of speech used in Prehistoric Korea.
The Chinese characters which arrived in the Korean region along with Buddhism were adopted as the language's main script called hanja. King Sejong the Great introduced the writing system currently called Hangul to deal with the inadequacy of hanja. Today, Hangul is preferred over hanja. In South Korea, the language is spoken in various dialects. The Gyeonggi dialect is the most popular of the rest of the dialects, and it is the basis on which the standard variant of Korean is formed. The dialect is widespread in the Seoul National Capital Area which includes the Incheon and Seoul Cities together with Gyeonggi Province. The Jeju dialect is used in South Korea's Jeju Province, and it is different from the Korean dialects used in the mainland. The dialect is regarded as a local language, and it is majorly used by the older people. The Gyeongsang dialects are used by communities in the Yeongnam region. Some of these dialects are tonal unlike standard Korean. The Jeolla dialect is mainly used in South Korea's Honam region including Gwangju region. The Chungcheong dialects are used in the Chuncheong region as well as in Daejeon City.
English
Almost all of Koreans under 40 years have participated in English lessons as part of their schooling. However, due to inadequate practice and the fear of mispronunciation, many Koreans only know basic English phrases. After the Korean War, South Korea embraced global trade with such nations as the US. English has been promoted as a second language and supported by government initiatives. Most of the Koreans who study English have a particular reason for doing so including trade, academics, and business. Few people will use the language among themselves and when they do they will use a particular kind of Korean-influenced English. Most Korean workers in hotels and airlines know a bit of English and are able to interact with international tourists. Tourists are however advised to familiarize themselves with a bit of Korean.
Japanese
The population of the older generation in South Korea speaks Japanese. The majority of the Japanese speakers reside in Busan, which is a short trip to the Japanese city of Fukuoka. The dialect verbalized in Busan bears similarities to Japanese while the Japanese dialect used in Fukuoka exhibits Korean influence.