Basics of traveling begin from the time you decide on ‘when’ and ‘where’. Obviously, these are the two most important things when traveling. That’s what everyone thinks. However, I say you can have fun anywhere, anytime. If I look back at all the vacations I have taken, more than the place it was the experience that really mattered in the end. Therefore whenever going on vacations, obviously choose a nice, safe destination with suitable weather conditions, but also make sure that the experience is worth all the effort.



Before you even begin deciding what to pack, it’s important to find a travel bag that’s as versatile as you need it to be, while also fitting all your stuff and being easy to carry. Consider the length of your trip, as well as if it’s an international vacation, if you’ll be using budget airlines, and your primary activities—all of these considerations impact which bag is best for your trip. Wherever you’re planning to go, pick luggage that is versatile, lightweight, and big enough to hold all your travel essentials.


If you plan to do lots of different types of activities on your vacation, you’ll have a fair amount of gear you need to pack into your suitcase. Keeping everything organized can be a challenge. One of the best things you can do when you’re packing for any trip—especially one that requires packing lots of layers—is to use packing organizers.


If you’re carrying on, keep your toiletry bag light and makes it easy to remember: liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container, and they must be stored in one quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag.


The next thing you’ll want to do is prepare a packing list especially for your personal item carry-on bag with anything that you’ll want with you on the flight. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an outfit (or two) and a few essential toiletries in your personal item just in case your luggage is lost.


Start by collecting all of your important documents in a travel document organizer. (This travel organizer holds a passport, ID, credit cards, coins, documents, a boarding pass, and a pen!) By bringing all your important information together, this will help ensure you have everything you need to get from one place to the next.


In most large cities, travelers should always be on the lookout for pickpockets. The easiest way to keep your belongings safe is to keep them hidden and close to you. One way to do this is to stash your valuables underneath your clothing. Another way is by locking your bags closed and using reflective accents to help folks see you at nighttime.


If you’re going on an extended trip, it’s essential to get your home in order before you go. Here are some simple tasks to think through before you head to the airport. (And yes, this travel checklist also includes thinking through home care.)


Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the wrong neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions and look like a tourist. After all, you are one! I always use a map when I travel. It helps you get to where you need to go!


They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!


The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier. You don’t need to master the language but learning a few things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to endearing yourself with the locals. They’ll like that you tried.



  • Single Entry Tourist Visa
  • Validity – 90 Days

Documents Required

1. Application Form

2. Two recent passport size photographs

3. 1 Year of latest ITR or 06 months bank statement.

Visa Fee

INR 2800 + INR 975/- VFS Service charges

Time Required to process Visa:- Minimum 04 working days.

Visa Application Centre

1. North India – VFS, New Delhi

2. East India – VFS, Kolkata

3. South India – Korean Consulate Office, Chennai

4. West India – Korean Consulate Office, Mumbai


Duration of Stay: 30 Days

Allowed Region: Jeju Island only

# Condition of Entry

Flights directly to Jeju Island only. Entry to Korea mainland is restricted.


Staying Connected During Your South Korea Trip
Traveling to South Korea with mobile devices is easier to share your travel story and, more importantly, keep in touch with friends and family back home. To ease the hassle, here are 6 solutions to help you better pick up what suits your need when it comes to getting online in South Korea.

1. Bring your phone and get a prepaid SIM card Though the only inconvenience is informing your contacts of your new number, this remains a very economical way to use your own phone to surf the Internet or make calls in South Korea for a temporary stay. To make a local SIM card work, your device must satisfy these requirements: l Be unlocked/SIM-free before coming. Many GSM phones have SIM lock or network lock built into by manufacturers to restrict the use of them to specific network providers. If you can’t make sure whether your phone is unlocked, call your home service provider and let them know you need it be SIM-free because you are traveling. l SIM card slot available. Very much like the reason of locking a phone, certain phones of unique versions using CDMA networks in the US and Canada don’t have SIM card slot.
2. Rent a portable Wi-Fi It is true that South Korea is blanketed with free Wi-Fi, but if you want to have guaranteed connection then a portal device would be the way to go. Any kinds of pocket Wi-Fi router or pocket modem are called “egg”, which is pretty small in size and convenient to carry in your pocket. The cost for an egg remains inexpensive – some Wi-Fi renters claim that price is cheaper than a cup of coffee. Depending on the specific version of eggs, battery hours vary from 5~9 hours on a single full charge, and normally 3~5 people can use an egg simultaneously, except that it will drain battery life quicker, thus a power bank would come in handy. WiFi Korea, Pocket WiFi Korea, KT WiFi router and LTE router are the most popular egg amongst travelers. Recommended to those who: Want a lot of daily data; have travel buddies to share the cost; stay longer than 20 days in South Korea. How to rent a portable Wi-Fi: Rent on the spot or make pre-booking online then collect the egg/return at a specific service counter located in major International airports, including those in Incheon and Busan, or demand a free delivery at the hotel when you process the booking. Pricing: From 5,900 KRW (5 USD)/day with or without some refundable deposit. In most cases, the longer you rent, the cheaper the cost is.
3.Buy a prepaid Wi-Fi ID The alternative to an egg is to buy a prepaid Wi-Fi ID: it’s cheaper and more flexible. Buy the account whenever you feel like using at convenience stores and ditch the receipt after your trip is finished. Olleh Wi-Fi hotspots can be found at shopping centers, attractions, universities and many other places across the country. To visualize the coverage, here is a map showing Olleh hotspot zones in Seoul city. Recommended to those who: Look for temporary Wi-Fi access; stay in main city places.

4. Rent a local phone
If you want to skip all the trouble and don’t mind using a second-hand phone, rent a smartphone from SK Telecom or KT Global Roaming. Itself a highly tech-savvy country, South Korea produces some of world’s best mobile phones, widely famous for whose excellent call quality and the convenient service. The two companies offer both feature phones and smartphones to meet different demands. For smartphones, daily rates offered by the two companies include free domestic incoming calls, call charge, SMS and at least 1 GB of 3G data.

5. Leech off of ubiquitous free Wi-Fi
Just as praised all the time, South Korea is not called the super-wired nation on earth for nothing. The moment when you land in Incheon Airport, you are well connected. In public areas, many telecom giants offer free Wi-Fi hotspots: SK, myLGnet, Olleh, to name a few. Cafes, malls, accommodations, buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, everywhere you go, you are able to get online easily. Technically there would be no problem updating your travel path or chatting on instant message apps, but you will have very poor or zero connection in the countryside as it is out of coverage of free Wi-Fi. That said, I’d suggest picking up a SIM card beforehand if your itinerary includes a rural visit. Fancy hotels, however, is another story. Wired Internet access is available in the rooms, but there may be situations that you have to pay for wireless access. It’s not just happening in South Korea.

6. Activate International roaming plan Your phone or mobile devices must use 3G technology to roam in South Korea. This method tops the most expensive in terms of charge, according to many service providers in the US and Europe. There might be exceptions though.


10 Traditional and Classic Korean Dishes

01. Classic Korean Bibimbap

Korean bibimbap looks gorgeous on the plate. It is also one easily tweaked for more or less spice for different palates. This recipe uses six vegetables, but you can use whatever you have in your refrigerator or garden. Koreans usually eat this rice dish with beef, but can also top bibimbap with a fried egg sunny-side-up.

02. Dongchimi (Korean White Radish)

This is a white water summer kimchi, one that is vinegary rather than spicy. It’s simple to make with a few days of brining, and it will keep for a long time in the refrigerator. You’ll enjoy it as a side dish or a cold soup.

03 of 10 Bulgogi (Korean Beef Barbecue)

Bulgogi is probably the most popular Korean dish, with thinly sliced meat that has a smoky-sweet flavor. You can enjoy it broiled, grilled, or stir-fried. The beef is usually accompanied with lettuce wraps and gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) for wrapping and spicing up the meat.

Mandoo (Korean Dumplings)

Mandoo (or mandu) is a symbol of good luck when prepared as part of Korean Lunar New Year festivities. These Korean dumplings can be added to a beef broth or anchovy broth for a dish called mandu-guk and served with tteok manu guk, a traditional cylindrical rice cake. This Korean dumpling recipe is made with ground beef or pork, but you will see them made with chicken or only vegetables. You can prepare them in

Chap Chae (Stir-Fried Korean Noodles)

Irina_Timokhina / Getty Images Chap chae (also spelled jap chae) is one of the most popular noodle dishes in Korea. The glass noodles are made from mung bean or sweet potatoes, and they become translucent when cooked. You can enjoy this dish cold or hot and as an appetizer or main dish.

Bossam (Korean Pork Belly)

Bossam are deeply savory Korean pork belly lettuce wraps that walk a fine line between a light meal and an indulgent feast. Serve them family-style so diners can assemble their own wraps according to their tastes.

Kimchi Jjigae (Spicy Kimchi Stew)

This spicy kimchi stew recipe (also sometimes spelled kimchichigae) is a great use for leftover or older kimchi. In fact, the older the kimchi, the better it is in this stew, as it adds rich flavor. It’s one of the most popular stews in Korea, and you’ll find it in many traditional restaurants. It is served hot and you’re guaranteed to break a sweat when eating it. Keep plain rice handy as an antidote.

Seollangtang (Korean Ox Bone Soup)

Ox bone soup is an easy recipe, but it’s one that you will simmer all day. Simmering the leg bones for several hours results in a milky-white, rich and meaty soup with garlic, ginger, and noodles.

Galbi Tang (Short Rib Soup)

This rich but delicate short rib soup most likely originated more than 800 years ago, during the waning days of the Goryeo Dynasty. It is commonly served at traditional Korean wedding receptions, as beef was a luxury item reserved for special occasions.

Baechu Kimchi (Spicy Pickled Cabbage)

The Spruce Kimchi is one of the most distinctive parts of Korean cuisine, and the pickled and fermented vegetables are eaten at almost every meal. This pickled and fermented napa cabbage is the most popular and recognizable form of kimchi. There are hundreds of different kinds of kimchi that are both spicy and mild and different regions in Korea have their own kimchi specialties.

Indian Restaurants

10 Best Indian Restaurants in Seoul

Indica Seoul

Indica Seoul is an authentic Indian restaurant located in Seoul and a part of the Jafa brewery, the first and only Indian owned brewery in Seoul which started operations in 2019.  Jafa brewery is a multipurpose space which provides a unique beer with Indian food experience to their customers.

Chakraa Indian Restaurant

Located in Hannam-dong, Chakraa is one of the most popular Indian restaurants in Seoul. Chakraa is a professionally managed authentic Indian Restaurant, owned and operated by Indians, and has been widely acclaimed as one of the best Indian restaurants in Korea.

Jyoti Indian Restaurant

Jyoti Indian restaurant serves Indian and Nepali cuisines with vegan and vegetarian options. Their menu includes salads, tandoori, soup, vegetable curry, lentil curry, non-vegetarian curry, naan and others. They have 3 branches in Seoul and can be located in Shinchon, Chungmuro and Jongak.

Little India Seoul

Little India is a popular Indian restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul. They serve delicious and filling Indian lunch and dinner which is a true value for money and are known for their delicious tandoori chicken which you can conveniently order from Shuttle delivery and get 4,000 won off your first order!


The first thing that will clue you in that Ganga serves a heavily Korean clientele is the bowl of pickles that accompanies your curry. But don’t let that detract from your experience here. As far as Indian food goes, Ganga is a Seoul institution. With about 5 branches in Gangnam, Jamsil, Yeouido, Mugyo, and Yeoksam, Ganga serves delicious food with different unique flavors of 20 Indian spices and herbs without artificial seasonings (MSG).

Bombay Grill

Bombay Grill serves Indian and Pakistani cuisine and boasts of their dishes having its own distinctive flavor and aroma which cannot come from any curry powder and prepared as it would be done in your own homes.

Taj Palace

There are two things you need before you go to a buffet: a voracious appetite and a loose fitting pair of eating pants. Unlike other buffets that subtract in quality what they provide in quantity, Taj Palace will not let you down. The staff here say the food is similar to what the kings of India once dined on. I’m no gastronomist, but I doubt the great Mughals stood in line to scoop butter chicken out of aluminum trays.

Om Nepali Indian Restaurant

With branches in Samcheong-dong, Gwanghwamun and Hapjeong, Om restaurant and cafe provides both Indian and Nepali cuisine which includes nan, rice, samosa, salad, soup, tandoori chicken, curries, lassies and a cheese desserts and will absolutely fill you up at an affordable price.

New Delhi Indian Restaurant

New Delhi restaurant is an authentic Indian cuisine restaurant in Seoul’s famous Apgujeong that serves Indian food made with Halal meat and fresh vegetables. They are known for their pretty thematic décor as well as the variety of delicious food they serve with plenty of vegetarian options.

Yeti Restaurant and Bar

Yeti restaurant serves halal-certified Indian, Nepali and Tibetan food in Korea. They can be located in Hongdae and are well-known for their decor and ambience which makes you feel right at home. In terms of food, they are known to have one of the best naan which leaves you wanting more.

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Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit South Korea is between March and May if you want to see the vibrant pink of the cherry blossoms in bloom. If you want to see the landscapes come alive as the leaves change in the cooler weathers, then we’d recommend visiting between September and November. Temperatures during these times are generally pleasant and suitable for outdoor activities.

June, July and August offer the best conditions for hiking, but the weather is hot and humid away from the mountains.

Winters in South Korea are bitterly cold, so we wouldn’t recommend visiting in December, January or February.

It’s important to take local holidays into account when planning your trip. The Korean New Year is the first day of the lunar month, and Chuseok is the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. During these times, many residents head to their rural hometowns to celebrate and many businesses are closed.


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).

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.

South Korea
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Seoul, South Korea
Namdaemun (“Great South Gate”), Seoul; it was restored after its 2008 destruction and reopened in 2013.

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Geologically, South Korea consists in large part of Precambrian rocks (i.e., more than about 540 million years old) such as granite and gneiss. The country is largely mountainous, with small valleys and narrow coastal plains. The T’aebaek Mountains run in roughly a north-south direction along the eastern coastline and northward into North Korea, forming the country’s drainage divide. From them several mountain ranges branch off with a northeast-southwest orientation. The most important of these are the Sobaek Mountains, which undulate in a long S-shape across the peninsula. None of South Korea’s mountains are very high: the T’aebaek Mountains reach an elevation of 5,604 feet (1,708 metres) at Mount Sŏrak in the northeast, and the Sobaek Mountains reach 6,283 feet (1,915 metres) at Mount Chiri. The highest peak in South Korea, the extinct volcano Mount Halla on Cheju Island, is 6,398 feet (1,950 metres) above sea level.

Physical features of South Korea

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T’aebaek Mountains, South Korea
Mount Sŏrak, T’aebaek Mountains, northeastern South Korea.
Juliana Ng
South Korea has two volcanic islands—Cheju (Jeju), off the peninsula’s southern tip, and Ullŭng, about 85 miles (140 km) east of the mainland in the East Sea—and a small-scale lava plateau in Kangwŏn province. In addition, South Korea claims and occupies a group of rocky islets—known variously as Liancourt Rocks, Tok (Dok) Islands (Korean), and Take Islands (Japanese)—some 55 miles (85 km) southeast of Ullŭng Island; these islets also have been claimed by Japan.

waterfall on Cheju Island, South Korea
Cheonjiyeon Falls, Cheju Island, South Korea.
© Tuomaslehtinen/
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There are fairly extensive lowlands along the lower parts of the country’s main rivers. The eastern coastline is relatively straight, whereas the western and southern have extremely complicated ria (i.e., creek-indented) coastlines with many islands. The shallow Yellow Sea and the complex Korean coastline produce one of the most pronounced tidal variations in the world—about 30 feet (9 metres) maximum at Inch’ŏn (Incheon), the entry port for Seoul.

South Korea’s three principal rivers, the Han, Kŭm, and Naktong, all have their sources in the T’aebaek Mountains, and they flow between the ranges before entering their lowland plains. Nearly all the country’s rivers flow westward or southward into either the Yellow Sea or the East China Sea; only a few short, swift rivers drain eastward from the T’aebaek Mountains. The Naktong River, South Korea’s longest, runs southward for 325 miles (523 km) to the Korea Strait. Streamflow is highly variable, being greatest during the wet summer months and considerably less in the relatively dry winter.

Han River, South Korea
Rock cliffs along the Han River in North Ch’ungch’ŏng province, South Korea.
Korea Britannica Corp.

Kŭm River, South Korea
Taech’ŏng Dam on the Kŭm River, west-central South Korea.
Yoo Chung
Most of South Korea’s soils derive from granite and gneiss. Sandy and brown-coloured soils are common, and they are generally well-leached and have little humus content. Podzolic soils (ash-gray forest soils), resulting from the cold of the long winter season, are found in the highlands.

The greatest influence on the climate of the Korean peninsula is its proximity to the main Asian landmass. This produces the marked summer-winter temperature extremes of a continental climate while also establishing the northeast Asian monsoons (seasonal winds) that affect precipitation patterns. The annual range of temperature is greater in the north and in interior regions of the peninsula than in the south and along the coast, reflecting the relative decline in continental influences in the latter areas.

South Korea’s climate is characterized by a cold, relatively dry winter and a hot, humid summer. The coldest average monthly temperatures in winter drop below freezing except along the southern coast. The average January temperature at Seoul is in the low 20s °F (about −5 °C), while the corresponding average at Pusan (Busan), on the southeast coast, is in the mid-30s °F (about 2 °C). By contrast, summer temperatures are relatively uniform across the country, the average monthly temperature for August (the warmest month) being in the high 70s °F (about 25 °C).

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Annual precipitation ranges from about 35 to 60 inches (900 to 1,500 mm) on the mainland. Taegu, on the east coast, is the driest area, while the southern coast is the wettest; southern Cheju Island receives more than 70 inches (1,800 mm) annually. Up to three-fifths of the annual precipitation is received in June–August, during the summer monsoon, the annual distribution being more even in the extreme south. Occasionally, late-summer typhoons (tropical cyclones) cause heavy showers and storms along the southern coast. Precipitation in winter falls mainly as snow, with the heaviest amounts occurring in the T’aebaek Mountains. The frost-free season ranges from 170 days in the northern highlands to more than 240 days on Cheju Island.

Plant and animal life
The long, hot, humid summer is favourable for the development of extensive and varied vegetation. Some 4,500 plant species are known. Forests once covered about two-thirds of the total land area, but, because of fuel needs during the long, cold winter and the country’s high population density, the original forest has almost disappeared. Except for evergreen broad-leaved forests in the narrow subtropical belt along the southern coast and on Cheju Island, most areas contain deciduous broad-leaved and coniferous trees. Typical evergreen broad-leaved species include camellias and camphor trees, while deciduous forests include oaks, maples, alders, zelkovas, and birches. Species of pine are the most representative in the country; other conifers include spruces, larches, and yews. Among indigenous species are the Abeliophyllum distichum (white forsythia or Korean abelia), a shrub of the olive family, and the Korean fir (Abies koreana).

springtime in South Korea
Spring blossoms at a temple near Kangnŭng, South Korea.
Korean fir

Korean fir (Abies koreana).
Jan Maksymilian Mehlich
Wild animal life is similar to that of northern and northeastern China. The most numerous larger mammals are deer. Tigers, leopards, lynx, and bears, formerly abundant, have almost disappeared, even in remote areas. Some 380 species of birds are found in the country, most of which are seasonal migrants. Many of South Korea’s fish, reptile, and amphibian species are threatened by intensive cultivation and environmental pollution except in the DMZ between North and South Korea, which has become a de facto nature preserve. Once farmland, and subsequently a devastated battleground, the DMZ has lain almost untouched since the end of hostilities and has reverted to nature to a large extent, making it one of the most pristine undeveloped areas in Asia. It contains many ecosystems including forests, estuaries, and wetlands frequented by migratory birds. The zone serves as a sanctuary for hundreds of bird species, among them the endangered white-naped and red-crowned cranes, and is home to dozens of fish species and Asiatic black bears, lynxes, and other mammals.

Ethnic groups
It was long believed that the Korean people originally may have had links with the people of Central Asia, the Lake Baikal region of Siberia, Mongolia, and the coastal areas of the Yellow Sea. Tools of Paleolithic type and other artifacts found in Sokch’ang, near Kongju, are quite similar to those of the Lake Baikal and Mongolian areas. In 2017, genetic analysis of bones found in Primorye kray in Far Eastern Russia suggested that Koreans were related to a population that had inhabited that area for at least 7,700 years. The genes of these Neolithic humans were expressed alongside those of indigenous agriculturalists from Southeast Asia to produce the genetic structure of modern Koreans.

South Korea: Ethnic composition
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The population of South Korea is highly homogeneous; almost the entire population is ethnically Korean, and there is a small minority of ethnic Chinese permanent residents. The number of foreigners is growing, especially in the major urban areas; people from Japan, the United States (including members of the military), and China make up the largest foreign populations, although they still constitute only small fractions. Many foreign nationals are employed in business or the diplomatic corps, and tens of thousands of workers come from China and Southeast Asia.

All Koreans speak the Korean language, which is often classified as one of the Altaic languages, has affinities to Japanese, and contains many Chinese loanwords. The Korean script, known in South Korea as Hangul (Han’gŭl) and in North Korea as Chosŏn muntcha, is composed of phonetic symbols for the 10 vowels and 14 consonants. Korean often is written as a combination of Chinese ideograms and Hangul in South Korea, although the trend is toward using less Chinese. A large number of English words and phrases have crept into the language—either intact or modified by local usage—as a result of the American presence in the country since 1950.

Hangul, the Korean alphabet, depicted with pronunciation guide.
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Discover about the shaman culture in South Korea
Discover about the shaman culture in South Korea
Learn about shamanism in South Korea.
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Freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed in South Korea, and there is no national religion. There also is little uniformity of religious belief, a situation that often is confusing to outside observers. Historically, several religions prevailed successively: shamanism (the religious belief in gods, demons, and ancestral spirits responsive to a priest, or shaman), Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. None of these religions was abandoned, however, when one supplanted another in dominance, and all have had a role in the country’s sociocultural development. Thus, the rites of shamanism (which has existed in Korea since ancient times) are still practiced by many. The principles and social outlook of Confucianism are still much in evidence in Korean daily life and family relationships, and Buddhism remains influential—even among people who may be nominally Christian, for example. Approximately one-fourth of the population professes Christianity, with Protestants (particularly Presbyterians and Methodists), independent Christians, and Roman Catholics the largest groups. Less than one-sixth of the population is Buddhist.

South Korea: Religious affiliation
South Korea: Religious affiliation
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shamans in South Korea
shamans in South Korea
Korean shamans petitioning the spirits to protect the community’s fishermen.
© Karen Sparks
Christianity is relatively new in Korea, Roman Catholic missionaries having reached the peninsula only in the late 18th century, and their Protestant counterparts a century later. Christianity has had a profound effect on the modernization of Korean society. Buddhism was first introduced in the 4th century CE and was the official religion of the Koryŏ dynasty, which began in 918. About one-sixth of the population adheres to so-called new religions. These include Wŏnbulgyo (Wŏn Buddhism), Taejonggyo (“Great Ancestral Religion”), and Ch’ŏndogyo. Ch’ŏndogyo (“Teaching of the Heavenly Way”), originally known as Tonghak (“Eastern Learning”), is a blend of Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and even Daoism; it spread widely in the latter part of the 19th century. Shamanism and traditional geomancy (p’ungsu) persist, though their practices usually are limited to certain occasions, such as funerals. Confucianism was the basis of national ethics during the Chosŏn (Yi) dynasty (1392–1910); though the number of its official adherents is now small, most Korean families still follow its principles, including ancestor worship.

Kangwŏn province, South Korea
Kangwŏn province, South Korea
Pungsuwon Catholic Church in Kangwŏn province, South Korea.
Korea Britannica Corp.
temple buildings in South Korea
temple buildings in South Korea
Unmun Temple, North Kyŏngsang province, South Korea.
© Karen Sparks
Settlement patterns
Agglomerated villages are common in river valleys and coastal lowlands in rural areas, ranging from a few houses to several hundred. Villages are frequently located along the foothills facing toward the south, backed by hills that give protection from the severe northwestern winter winds. Small clustered fishing villages are found along the coastline. In contrast to the lowlands, settlements in mountain areas are usually scattered. The pace of urbanization in South Korea since 1960 has caused considerable depopulation of rural areas, and the traditional rural lifestyle has been slowly fading away.

South Korea: Urban-rural
South Korea: Urban-rural
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Cheju Island
Cheju Island
Coastal village on Cheju Island, South Korea.
Knodel/Shostal Associates
In contrast to rural areas, urban populations have grown enormously. Seoul, the political, economic, and cultural centre of the country, is by far the largest city; satellite cities around Seoul—notably Anyang, Sŏngnam, Suwŏn, and Puch’ŏn—also have grown rapidly, forming an extensive conurbation (Greater Seoul) to the south of the city. New towns around Seoul such as Kwach’ŏn, Pundang, Ilsan (now administratively part of Koyang [Goyang] city), and Sanbon (part of Kunp’o [Gunpo] city) were constructed in the 1970s and ’80s. In addition to Seoul, other cities with populations of at least one million are Pusan, Inch’ŏn, Taegu, Taejŏn, Kwangju, and Ulsan. The populations of most of the small and medium-size cities serving as rural service centres, however, generally have been stagnating.

Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea
Namdaemun Market at night, Seoul, South Korea.
© Lorraine Murray
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul, South Korea
Traffic in the Chong-no (Jongno) area of Seoul, South Korea.
© Lorraine Murray
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Demographic trends
South Korea’s population more than doubled over the second half of the 20th century. From 1960, however, birth rates decreased rapidly, and the population growth rate was almost negligible by the beginning of the 21st century. During the same period, mortality rates also slowed, reflecting an overall increase in living standards.

South Korea: Age breakdown
South Korea: Age breakdown
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
The rapid increase in the urban population and the resultant depopulation of vast rural areas are South Korea’s main demographic issues. More than four-fifths of the population is classified as urban; roughly half the population lives in the country’s seven largest cities. Thus, although the country’s rate of population growth is low, its overall population density is high—some two and a half times that of North Korea—with huge concentrations of people in the major cities.

Pusan, South Korea
Pusan, South Korea
Nighttime aerial view of Pusan, South Korea.
Jupiterimages Corporation
Large numbers of Koreans emigrated before World War II: those from northern Korea to Manchuria (northeastern China), and those from southern Korea to Japan. It is estimated that in 1945 some two million Koreans lived in Manchuria and Siberia and about the same number in Japan. About half of the Koreans in Japan returned to South Korea just after 1945. The most important migration, however, was the north-to-south movement of people after World War II, especially the movement that occurred during and after the Korean War. About two million people migrated to South Korea from the North during that period, settling largely in the major cities. In addition to creating large resident populations in China and Japan, Koreans have emigrated to many other countries, notably the United States and Canada.

The South Korean economy has grown remarkably since the early 1960s. In that time, South Korea transformed itself from a poor agrarian society to one of the world’s most highly industrialized nations. This growth was driven primarily by the development of export-oriented industries and the abundance of highly skilled and educated labour, fostered by strong government support. Government and business leaders together fashioned a strategy of targeting specific industries for development, and beginning in 1962 this strategy was implemented in a series of economic development plans. The first targeted industries were textiles and light manufacturing, followed in the 1970s by such heavy industries as iron and steel and chemicals. Still later, the focus shifted to such high-technology industries as automobiles, electronics, and information technology.

Samsung, South Korea
Samsung, South Korea
In the 21st century, South Korea was one of the world’s top producers of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.
© pcruciatti/
The government exercised strong controls on industrial development, giving most support to the large-scale projects of the emerging giant corporate conglomerates called chaebŏl. As a result, small and medium-size industries that were privately managed became increasingly difficult to finance, and many of these became, in essence, dependent subcontractors of the chaebŏl.

Korea joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1996 and took a step closer to becoming an economically advanced country. In the early 21st century, Korea’s per capita gross national income far exceeded those of most of its neighbours, other than Japan and Taiwan. These notable accomplishments, however, have at times been overshadowed by economic difficulties caused by both external and domestic factors..

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
Less than one-fourth of the republic’s area is cultivated. Along with the decrease in farm population, the proportion of national income derived from agriculture has decreased to a fraction of what it was in the early 1950s. Improvements in farm productivity were long hampered because fields typically are divided into tiny plots that are cultivated largely by manual labour and animal power. In addition, the decrease and aging of the rural population has caused a serious farm-labour shortage. However, more recently productivity has been improving as greater emphasis has been given to mechanization, specialization, and commercialization.

rice paddy in South Korea
rice paddy in South Korea
Flooded paddy-field landscape south of Seoul, South Korea.
Shostal Associates
Rice is the most important crop. Cultivation of a wide variety of fruits including tangerines and other citrus fruits, pears, persimmons, and strawberries, along with vegetables (especially cabbages) and flowers, has become increasingly important. Although it constitutes only a small portion of Korea’s agricultural production, the country’s ginseng is valued for its superior quality and is exported. Barley, wheat, soybeans, and potatoes are also cultivated, but most of the country’s needs for these commodities must be imported.

ginseng roots
ginseng roots
The roots of Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) in a Korean market.
© Leung Cho Pan/
Livestock and dairying are also important. The top three agricultural products after rice are pork, beef, and milk. The number of livestock farms fell from 1990 through the early 21st century even as production of dairy products and meat, especially pork, increased. Consumption of meat and dairy products also grew during the same period.

From the 1970s successful reforestation efforts were mounted in areas previously denuded. Domestic timber production, however, supplies only a negligible fraction of demand. Logging, mainly of coniferous trees, is limited to the mountain areas of Kangwŏn and North Kyŏngsang provinces. A large plywood and veneer industry has been developed, based on imported wood.

Fishing has long been important for supplying protein-rich foods and has emerged as a significant export source. South Korea has become one of the world’s major deep-sea fishing nations. Coastal fisheries and inland aquaculture are also well developed.

Resources and power
Mineral resources in South Korea are meagre. The most important reserves are of anthracite coal, iron ore, graphite, gold, silver, tungsten, lead, and zinc, which together constitute some two-thirds of the total value of mineral resources. Deposits of graphite and tungsten are among the largest in the world. Most mining activity centres around the extraction of coal and iron ore. All of the country’s crude petroleum requirements and most of its metallic mineral needs (including iron ore) are met by imports.

oil refinery in South Korea
oil refinery in South Korea
Oil refinery in Ulsan, South Korea.
Shostal Associates
Thermal electric-power generation accounts for more than half of the power produced. Since the first oil refinery started to produce petroleum products in 1964, power stations have changed over gradually from coal to oil. Hydroelectricity constitutes only a small proportion of overall electric-power production; most stations are located along the Han River, not far from Seoul. Nuclear power generation, however, has become increasingly important.

Han River, South Korea
Han River, South Korea
Uiam Hydroelectric Station on the North Han River, south of Ch’unch’ŏn, South Korea.
Korea Britannica Corp.
Textiles and other labour-intensive industries have declined from their former preeminence in the national economy, although they remain important, especially in export trade. Heavy industries, including chemicals, metals, machinery, and petroleum refining, are highly developed. Industries that are even more capital- and technology-intensive grew to importance in the late 20th century—notably shipbuilding, motor vehicles, and electronic equipment. Emphasis was given to such high-technology industries as electronics, bioengineering, and aerospace, and the service industry grew markedly. Increasing focus has been placed on the rise of information technology and the promotion of venture-capital investment. Much of the country’s manufacturing is centred on Seoul and its surrounding region, while heavy industry is largely based in the southeast; notable among the latter enterprises is the concentration of steel manufacturers at P’ohang and Kwangyang, in the southeast.

P’ohang, South Korea
POSCO iron-and-steel manufacturing company, P’ohang, South Korea.
© Lorraine Murray
The Korean won is the official currency. The government-owned Bank of Korea, headquartered in Seoul, is the country’s central bank, issuing currency and overseeing all banking activity. All banks were nationalized in the early 1960s, but by the early 1990s these largely had been returned to private ownership. Foreign branch banking has been allowed in South Korea since the 1960s, and in 1992 foreigners began trading on the Korea Stock Exchange in Seoul.

South Korean won
A 50,000-won banknote from South Korea.
Courtesy of Lorraine Murray
South Korea borrowed heavily on international financial markets to supply capital for its industrial expansion, but the success of its exports allowed it to repay much of its debt. However, the accumulation of a staggering amount of foreign debt and excessive industrial expansion by major conglomerates caused severe economic difficulties in the late 1990s. Government and business leaders jointly created reforms, such as the restructuring of foreign debt and a bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund, to create a more stable economic structure.

The country generally has maintained a positive balance in annual trade. The major imports are machinery, mineral fuels, manufactured goods, and such crude materials as textile fibres and metal ores and scrap. Principal exports include machinery, electronics, textiles, transportation equipment (notably, automobiles), and clothing and footwear. South Korea’s principal trading partners are the United States, Japan, and Middle Eastern, East Asian, and Southeast Asian countries.

South Korea: Major import sources
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

South Korea: Major export destinations
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Some two-thirds of the labour force is employed in the service sector, which contributes roughly three-fifths of the gross domestic product. Tourism alone constitutes a significant portion of this amount annually. The majority of visitors come from other Asian countries—mostly from Japan and, to a lesser extent, from China—although the number of tourists from the United States also has been appreciable. Tourists are drawn by South Korea’s many palaces and other historical attractions, religious sites, including Buddhist temples, and natural beauty. The increasing international recognition of South Korea’s popular culture, such as music, films, and television dramas, also has generated tourist interest.


The Seoul subway is inexpensive and widespread, making it an effective way to get just about anywhere in the city. So long as you avoid rush hour (8 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. on weekdays) and don’t try to ride between midnight and 5:30 a.m. (when the system is closed), you should have a pretty smooth subway experience. The signs, maps and recordings in the stations are in English. Seoul residents use cards known as Multiple Journey Transportation Cards (or T-money cards) to pay for subway rides, with fares starting at 1,350 won (about $1.20) for the first 10 kilometers of travel. T-money cards cost 2,500 ($2.24) won for the card; fares for 10 kilometers traveled cost 1,250 won ($1.12).

The Seoul subway is inexpensive and widespread, making it an effective way to get just about anywhere in the city. So long as you avoid rush hour (8 to 9 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. on weekdays) and don’t try to ride between midnight and 5:30 a.m. (when the system is closed), you should have a pretty smooth subway experience. The signs, maps and recordings in the stations are in English. Seoul residents use cards known as Multiple Journey Transportation Cards (or T-money cards) to pay for subway rides, with fares starting at 1,350 won (about $1.20) for the first 10 kilometers of travel. T-money cards cost 2,500 ($2.24) won for the card; fares for 10 kilometers traveled cost 1,250 won ($1.12).

While Seoul’s subway system is easy to navigate, its bus routes can be a bit more complicated and daunting for foreign travelers. Most bus maps are not translated into English, and most bus drivers speak only Korean. To ride the bus, you can pay the bus fare in cash on the bus or use a T-money card, which decreases the bus fare by 100 won for adult travelers. Buses and bus stops are color-coded to reflect different routes. Blue buses (main line buses) travel long distances within Seoul city limits and cost 1,300 won ($1.17) for a single journey ride. Green buses, which cost 1,000 won (90 cents), cover the same area but travel shorter distances. Yellow buses run a loop through downtown, and cost 1,100 won (about 98 cents) per ride. Finally, red buses run to Seoul’s outer suburbs and cost 2,400 won (about $2.15) per ride. Enter the bus from the front and always exit through the back, unless the bus is only equipped with one door. Buses run all hours of the day thanks to the night bus, marked with an “N” before the bus number.

You can hail a cab pretty easily in Seoul, and a short ride can be very inexpensive. Silver, orange or white regular taxis cost between 2,800 to 3,000 won (about $2.50 to $2.68) for the first two kilometers (about 1.25 miles) plus an extra 100 won (about 10 cents) for every eighth of a mile thereafter. Between midnight and 4 a.m., taxi prices increase by 20 percent. Deluxe taxis, which are black with a yellow stripe, cost 3,200 to 5,000 won (between $2.90 and $4.50) for the first three kilometers (about 2 miles), with an additional 200 won (around 18 cents) for every additional tenth of a mile. Aside from the price, the differences between these taxis and regular ones are more passenger space and no nighttime surcharges. There are also international taxis that guarantee bilingual drivers, but those must be reserved in advance (can’t be hailed). If you opt for regular taxis, it’s a good idea to write down your destination to show to your driver to avoid miscommunication.

Driving around Seoul tends to be hassle-prone: Traffic in the city happens more often than not and drivers can often throw caution to the wind when getting around in a hurry. Avoid the headache of driving and make use of Seoul’s public transportation instead – there’s probably a subway or bus stop wherever you need to go, and both forms of transport are markedly cheaper than renting a car. However, if the urge to drive is insurmountable, you can always rent your own set of wheels from rental desks at Incheon airport. You’ll need to be 21 or older and hold an international driver’s license (which you must acquire before your trip).

On Foot
Seoul is too big to traverse on foot alone, but it does contain a number of neighborhoods and hiking trails that provide nice areas to put one foot in front of the other. Just be careful when crossing the street – green lights given to pedestrians tend to be short to help the flow of traffic, so cross briskly.