South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (Korean hangeul: 대한민국; Korean hanja: 大韓民國; Daehan Minguk) and unofficially known as the "Much Less Shitty Korea"[citation NOT needed], is a country in East Asia, surprisingly enough located on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea suffered under a series of military dictatorships for decades — the United States wanted a strongman in place to counter communism — until protests eventually forced democratization of the government. Starting in the 1970s, South Korea underwent a period of heavy industrialization, and today is a prosperous industrial nation like Japan. This period took place under the authoritarian rule of Park Chung-hee, whose propaganda dehumanized the enemy in the North. Park was assassinated in 1979; after that the military ruled the country with the initial lead strongman being Chun Doo-hwan (1979-'88), followed by the slightly less gruesome rule of Roh Tae-woo (1988-'93). During Chun's rule, dissidents were falsely accused of being pro-North Korean Communists or spies, and imprisoned and tortured. In May 1980, Chun ordered his army, led by Roh, to kill hundreds of citizens of Gwangju who were protesting against his rule. Only in 1987, after a decade of peaceful protests organized by students, intellectuals, and unions, was the first free presidential election held, but a split among the democratic opposition ensured that the Roh Tae-woo won the election with a plurality. It would not be until the election of Kim Dae-jung in 1997 that the opposition would win its first election.
South Korea has one of the largest standing armies in the world (except in rare special cases, every male citizen is subject to conscription). This measure is deemed necessary given relations with its northern neighbor (the two countries are still officially at war). Officially, the country maintains fairly friendly relations with Japan and the United States, despite numerous disputes with the former. They frequently exchange slaps to the face with North Korea.
South Korea sees the North’s perpetually "eventual" collapse with some trepidation. Sure they would like to become a unified nation again; however, they’ll be stuck with the bill and humanitarian crisis. East Germany at least had infrastructure, wasn't starving, was Eastern Europe's second largest economy, and that was expensive enough for West Germany. This is not even mentioning the task of deprogramming 25 million people who still see the Kims as near-literal gods, the possible rise of pro-Kim terrorist groups, and so on.
South Korea is a presidential country similar to the U.S. The president's single term is only possible for five years. Party systems are classified into multi-party systems, however, there are two main parties in South Korean politics: the Minjoo Party of Korea, a social liberal party (by South Korean political standards), and the United Future Party, an ultra-conservative party. South Korea has been greatly influenced by the American-style political system as the tendency of the two largest parties is similar to that of the U.S. However, other minor parties exist in its National Assembly, including the Justice Party (progressives/social democrats), the People Party (South Korea) (centre-right liberals), and the Open Democratic Party (centre-left liberals (?)).
After the 2020 South Korean legislative election, the Democratic Party (Minjoo Party) won an election landslide (180 seats out of 300), the largest majority for any party since democracy was restored in 1987, whilst the conservatives suffered their worst defeat since 1960. This victory can largely be attributed to the government's highly successful handling of the COVID-19 outbreak as political opinion polls were quite unfavourable of the Democratic Party until then, due to a weak economy and some political scandals.
Under the influence of Confucian culture, South Korea has a conservative culture and society. Women's rights have steadily improved since democratization, but the improvement of human rights among sexual minorities, the disabled, ethnic/race and culture minorities is far from being seen. (Human rights violations against mentally disabled people are often severe. A bigger problem is that violence against mentally disabled people is often not punished significantly legally, unlike other violence.)
This is the dark side of South Korea, but South Korea is a country with a lot of racism. If you're not white or Northeast Asian, you're not very safe from racism. But unlike the U.S. and Europe, there is no physical hate crime.
They are also sexually conservative as South Korea is one of the few developed countries where pornography is illegal (though many get their pornographic material through various means, such as VPNs or even social media), and homosexuality is considered abnormal for the middle-aged. But in terms of a certain amount of physical exposure or light sexual media, it is one of the most open countries in East Asia.[note 1]
South Korean society has a culture that values sociality very much in relation to sudden changes in behavior. South Korea, many Aspergers and autistic people suffer from serious discrimination and prejudice, and unlike others, they are often exposed to abuse, harassment and sexual violence[note 2] (it is much more common and severe compared to the West). Neurodiversity and Autism rights movement have not even been discussed in South Korea and autism is often referred to as a treatment target and no criticism of Applied behavior analysis is raised.
South Korea is a country where the pop music (i.e. K-pop) market has developed greatly and its music exported worldwide (part of a phenomenon known as the Korean wave, with the music being the object of either much love or loathing). The same can be said of Korean dramas. It also have some of the best online gamers in the world, particularly competitive StarCraft players. Furthermore, South Korea has a very developed traditional food culture, with famous dishes like kimchi, Korean BBQ, bibimbab etc.
Many people in South Korea are positive towards its own branch of Traditional Chinese medicine, which is called 한의학 (Haneuihak) in Korean.
No one steals a smartphone even if it is accidentally left at the table in a restaurant.[note 3]
Even if a woman walks around the street alone at night, (not jokingly,) she's very unlikely to be harmed unless she's in a trashy area where entertainment is concentrated. That's how safe it is!
South Korea is known for having an extremely competitive education environment. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, students in South Korea were among the most unhappy of all students around the globe.
A majority of South Koreans have no official religion (56.1%). The largest religion in South Korea is Christianity, with around 27.6% of the population adhering to Christianity. The second largest religion is Buddhism, with around 23% of South Koreans being Buddhists in 2005, and 15.5% in 2015. A bit less than 20% of the population adheres to Protestantism, but the religion is heavily politicized and controversial in the country.
Roughly 10% of the population is Catholic, and Pope Francis is very popular in the country.
Famous South Koreans
- It is the adoptive country of the Reverend Moon (he was born in the North)
- Footballer Ahn Jung-Hwan (안정환) scored the winning goal against Italy in the 2002 World Cup. Unfortunately, he was signed to an Italian club at the time — they fired him.
- Kim Yu-Na (김연아), a famous female ice skater.
- John Cho, a Korean-American actor. You may know him as Harold from Harold and Kumar, or as Hikaru Sulu from the 2009 Star Trek reboot.
- Rain (비), a singer, dancer, actor (in both South Korea and the US), and a well-known humanitarian. Had a dance-off with Stephen Colbert.
- BoA (권보아), a Korean singer, active in South Korea, Japan, and the US.
- Kendrick Kang-Joh "Ken" Jeong" (정강조), a Korean-American physician, comedian, and actor. He is known for his role as Ben Chang in the comedy series Community, and for his other movie roles such as Leslie Chow in The Hangover, Dr. Kuni in Knocked Up, and Ken in The Pineapple Express.
- Margaret Cho, a Korean-American comedian, fashion designer, author, recording artist, and actress. She is more widely known for her stand-up comedy where she talks about social and political problems, mostly about race and sexuality.
- Park Chan-wook (박찬욱) directed the 2003 film Oldboy.
- PSY, the guy with over 3 billion YouTube hits.
- Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations (2007-2016).
- BTS, Billboard award winning k-pop group.
- On the other hand, Japan is more sexually conservative in real life than South Korea, although pornography is legal and even advanced. But when it comes to human rights for the LGBTs, Japan is more progressive than South Korea.
- It is common for male autistic people as well as female autistic women to suffer sexual assault. Of course, there are quite a few female assailants as well as men, but those who sexually assault autistic people are all "NT" chicks
- But if you're in a slum, someone could steal your cell phone in this situation.
- South Koreans win mass campaign for democracy, 1986-87, Swarthmore College
- Flashback: The Kwangju massacre, BBC
- Information on South Korean Military Service, UC San Diego
- At this point it's basically primed to, simply a matter of when.
- Although this is increasingly seen as an unwanted outcome, especially among younger Koreans, for the reasons detailed above
- If this is the situation after two decades, just imagine a reunified Korea.
- Official stats from Statistics Korea, 2015.