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August 10th, 2013 

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Travel and Explore South Korea

South Korea


 South Korea is located on the Korean peninsula west of Japan. Most of South Korea is in a temperate climate zone, with average temperatures ranging from the low 20's in the winter to the 90's in the summer. In July and August the monsoon season brings heavy rain, although it is humid throughout the year.

 Korea has a long history of conflict as its geography means it's the jumping-off point for invaders through much of Southeast Asia. The country's foundation can be traced over four thousand years ago to the start of the Gojoseon (literally "Old Joseon") kingdom. Over the years, the country fought with China, Japan, and other kingdoms on the peninsula, eventually forming the Joseon kingdom, which lasted until colonization by Japan in 1910.

 After WWII, the Joseon kingdom was split much like Germany, creating the communist North Korea and the capitalist South Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, seeking to unite the two countries, which eventually led to UN troops, including many Americans, fighting for the south. A peace treaty was created in 1953, although South Korea didn't sign the agreement.

 In 1960, a coup put Park Chung-hee in power. As the country was still technically at war with North Korea, Chung-hee was able to declare a special emergency to become absolute ruler. His economic policies started the country's "economic miracle," creating the massive growth that would move the country into the first world. However, as time went on he grew more militant, having political enemies either killed or imprisoned. He was assassinated in October 26, 1979, shortly after putting down massive university protests.

 Today South Korea has a democratic government similar to that of the United States. It has become a world center for technology, particularly cell phones. At the center of this is Daejeon, the country's Silicon Valley. Here visitors can find the latest in Korean gadgets. The residents are also fanatical about multiplayer videogames, particularly Starcraft, which is played like a professional sport. Travelers can play these games at Internet cafes throughout the country, which offer the use of the latest computers combined with extremely fast Internet.


 Korea is renowned for its barbecue with spicy dishes like bulgogi, stir-fry beef marinated in sesame oil and mushrooms. Almost every meal features Kimchi, spicy pickled cabbage, and soju, an alcoholic drink similar to vodka.

 The South Korean government has created a list of over three hundred national treasures ranging from natural sites to works of art. Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju is home to seven of these, including two ancient Buddha statues and several pagodas.

 Seoul is home to Gyeongbokgung Palace, a Joseon era structure that is home to the Korean Folk History museum. Those wanting to see how regular people lived should visit nearby Namsangol Hanok Village. It includes traditional homes and workshops, and hosts traditional wedding ceremonies in the summer months.

 For something more nature-related, check out Jeju, a tropical island formed by the Halla volcano. At its base is the Gotjawal rain forest, one of the few undisturbed forests in Asia and home to several endangered species.

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