Korea National Tourism Corporation,
10, Ta-dong, Chung-gu, KPO 1879.
Seoul 100-180, Korea
Tel: (02) 729-600-Telex: Kotour K 28555
Fax: (02) 757-5997

Physical geography

Korea is a peninsula which juts south from the Asian mainland. It borders on China and the Russian Federation to the north, and faces Japan to the east across the Tonghae (East Sea). The Korean peninsula lies between 33°C06' and 43°C01' north latitude, and between 124°C11' and 131䓵' east longitude. With a total area of 221,325 sq. km, the peninsula is approximately 1,000km long and 216km wide at its narrowest point. Hills and mountains account for nearly 70 per cent of its territory. Since 1945 the peninsula has been divided into two parts: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north and the Republic of Korea in the south.


The climate of Korea is temperate, tending towards the Continental, and has four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn boast many days of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. The hottest months are July and August; the coldest, December and January. The rainy season lasts from late June to mid-July. Spring and autumn are definitely prime times to visit Korea. Mean temperatures for the four seasons are: 15°C (58°F) in spring; 26°C (79°F) in summer; 11°C (52°F) in autumn and 1°C (33°F) in winter. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Korea is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Due to successful and constantly moving economic development plans, Korea has achieved remarkable economic development over the last 20 years and has maintained one of the highest rates of growth in modern economic history. <P>Korea has poor natural resources but a well-educated, highly motivated and industrious population. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> The total estimated population was 44,851,000 in 1995. Almost half of the population live in urban areas. The population of Seoul, the largest city in Korea, was 10,776,000 and that of Pusan, the second largest city, was 3,802,000 in 1995. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> There is evidence that migrants from Central Asia began to settle on the Korean peninsula during the neolithic age. Recorded Korean history begins with the 'Three Kingdoms Period' (Koguryo Paekche and Shilla Kingdoms, 57 BC to 668 AD) and the Shilla Kingdom finally united the peninsula. The brilliant culture of Shilla has left behind abundant and remarkable historic relics to be seen in and around the ancient capital city of Kyongju. Buddhism was also introduced into the peninsula in the fourth century and Chinese culture spread to Japan by way of Korea. The Shilla Kingdom was in turn overthrown by the Koryo Dynasty, which kingdom ruled over the country from 918 AD until 1392 AD. During the Koryo Dynasty a system of civil service examination was instituted, laws were codified and, in 1234 AD, movable metal type began to be used for printing - long before Gutenberg's invention. The Koryo Dynasty was overthrown and replaced by the Choson Dyanasty in 1392. The enlightened rule of the early and middle Choson Dynasty monarchs was marked with the invention of Han-gul (the Korean alphabet) by scholars especially appointed by the King Seong, the fourth King of the Choson Dynasty. <P>The Hermit Kingom opened its ports in 1894. After that time Korea was influenced by the major powers and was finally annexed by the Japanese, who ruled until the defeat of Japan in the Second World War (1945). Following the surrender of Japan, Korea regained independence on 15 August 1945. The coutry was, however, divided into North Korea (communist) and South Korea (capitalist). The republic of Korea was established in the south in 1948. In 1950, the tension on the peninsula erupted into the Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The Republic of Korea has since captured world attention due to its rapid economic growth in the 1980s and the hosting of the 1988 Summer Olympics. Negotiations between the Koreas for peace and reunification has picked up momentum in the 1990s. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> Religious freedom is guaranteed in Korea by the constitution. Even though there is no state religion, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism are recognised as the four major religions. However, 'Ch'ondogyo', a native religious practice, and shamanistic rituals are still performed today. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Korean is the official as well as national language. It has a simple, phonetic alphabet. English is spoken at hotel desks, in the shops, bars, and restaurants. French, German, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish are also taught in many high schools and colleges. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Greenwich Meant time plus nine hours. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The monetary unit is the Won. US$1 = 800 Won (January, 1995). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices closed)</H3> 1 and 2 January, New Year; 7-9 February Sollal (Lunar New Year); 1 March, Independence Movement Day; 5 April, Arbor Day; 5 May, Children's Day; 14 May*, Buddha's Birthday; 6 June, Memorial Day; 17 July, Constitution Day; 15 August, Liberation Day; 15-17 September, Ch'usok* (Korea's Thanksgiving Day); 3 Oct., National Foundation Day; 25 December, Christmas. <P><I>* According to the lunar calendar for 1997. Dates vary from year to year.</I><P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> <H3>Seoul</H3> Seoul, the capital of Korea, is one of the world's ten largest and most bustling cities with a population of more than ten million. Now the capital has become the hub for the entire nation. It was also the venue for the glorious '88 Summer Olympics. Seoul has many luxurious hotels, good restaurants, and many shopping places. It is a city of contrasts between old and new. Since its selection as the royal capital of the Choson Dynasty in 1394, Seoul Seoul has preserved much of its rich past. The city's past glories are best displayed in its stately ancient palaces: the Ch'angdokkung Palace with its Secret Garden, the Kyongbokkung Palace with the National Folk Museum, the Toksugung Palace and the Ch'anggyonggung Palace. Other recommended sites are the Pugak Skyway and the Namsan Park with the Seoul Tower (479.7m/1,583 feet) commanding grand views of Seoul City, and the Korea House, where Korean traditional music and dance performances can be seen and unique food can be sampled. <H3>Seoul vicinity</H3> Suwon is an old, walled city located about one hour by subway from Seoul. Near Suwon is the Korean Folk Village which exhibits all traditional arts and crafts of the Choson Kingdom and preserves the old rural way of life for visitors to see. P'anmunjom is the place where the truce that ended the fighting in the Korean war was signed, and has remained the site of ongoing peace dialogues. P'anmunjom is a 35-mile bus trip north of Seoul; reservations must be made a few days in advance. <H3>Kyongju</H3> Kyongju was the capital of the Shilla kingdom, which unified Korea tor the first time some 1,300 years ago. Kyongju is a veritable treasure trove of historic and aesthetic remains. Dozens of huge earthen tomb mounds of Shilla kings and queens stand together in Tumuli Park. The unique golden crowns, jewellery, ceramics and decorations excavated from these tombs may be seen in the Kyongju National Museum at the edge of town. On the outskirts of Kyongju lies the beautiful Pomun Lake Resort. <H3>Pusan</H3> Located at the southernmost tip of the Korean peninsula is the largest seaport in Korea and a focal point of business and industry. Places of interest in Pusan include UN Memorial Cemetery, Yongdusan Park, Pomosa Temple, Tongnae Hot Springs Haeundae Beach and Hot Springs Resort, Songdo Beach and T'aejongdae Park. <H3>Hallyosudo Marine Park</H3> Between the large port of Pusan and the smaller harbour of Yosu to the west lies the Hallyosudo Marine Park, a maritime national park, dotted with picturesque islets, fantastic rock formations, and quaint traditional fishing villages. It is the site of the historical mementoes, recalling Korea' s naval hero Admiral Yi Sun-shin, and a great place for aquatic sports. <H3>Chejudo Island</H3> Chejudo Island, Korea's only offshore province, is 55 minutes by air from Seoul. Chejudo, vacationer's paradise, is an exotic semitropical land dominated by black basalt rock of volcanic origin, dynamic women divers and Mt. Hallasan, the highest mountain in the Republic of Korea. An unpolluted paradise, Chejudo Island was singled out as an 'Island of the Gods' by a <I>Newsweek</I> survey of ten unspoiled tourist paradises. <P> On the south coast lies Chungmun Resort with deluxe hotels, a large shopping complex and recreational facilities. Chejudo offers something for every member of the family - swimming, golfing, fishing, boating, scuba diving, hiking, hunting or just lying on the beach doing nothing. <H3>East Coast</H3> Famous for its scenery and fine beaches. The rugged scenery of the southern Mt. Kumgangsan sloping down to the sea is called 'the Switzerland of Asia'. The area features skiing and other winter sports, swimming in summer and mountaineering in autumn. Most popular resorts are Mt. Soraksan with its numerous peaks towering over 1,515m (5,000 feet), Kyongp'odae beach and Hwajinp'o. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> From March to November, but December, January and February are also best months for winter sports. July and August can be hot, wet and crowded - it is the height of the Korean vacation season. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Warmer clothing is recommended for early spring and late autumn; lightest summer clothes and raincoat for summer; an overcoat is needed from December to February. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts</H3> <I>Seaside resorts</I>: Songdo Beach, Haeundae Beach, T'aejongdae Beach, Kyongp'odae Beach, Chejudo Island, Taech'on Beach. <P> I>Interior</I>: Pomun Lake Island, Haeundae Beach, Seoul Land, Namisom Island, Mt. Songnisan, Tongnae, Suanbo, Yusong and Dogo Hotsprings, Namhansansong Fortress, Mt. Soraksan, Yong-in Farmland and Olympic Park. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Football, fishing, mountaineering, swimming, golf, tennis, baseball, pingpong, boxing, women basketball, skiing, skating, t'aekwondo (Korean traditional martial art), and ssirum (Korean Folk wrestling). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Food: Western, Chinese, Japanese as well as Korean restaurants can be found in all major cities. Korean food ranges from bland to seasoned and 'Kimch'i' provides the spice. This peppery hot fermented cabbage or radish is served at every meal. The most popular Korean dish among foreigners and nationals alike is 'Pulgogi', marinated beef slices charcoal-roasted over a brazier. <P>Beverages: Ginseng tea known as a rejuvenator, delicious native rice wines such as Makkoli and Tongdongju, 'soju' distilled from sweet potatoes, and many Western drinks are served. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Korea is often called 'The Shoppers' Paradise' - not only for its wide variety of goods but also for quality at very reasonable prices. Korean ginseng, herb medicine, is considered the best in the world. Korean silk is regarded as one of the highest in quality, with a variety of patterns and colours. All kind of handicrafts, wooden chest, tailor-made suits, native dolls, embroidered items, lacquerware, celadon, white porcelain, brassware, footware, smoky topaz, amethyst and jade, are also available. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> Visitors with confirmed outbound tickets may stay up to 15 days without visas although this does not apply to certain nationalities. Those who plan to stay in Korea for longer than 15 days must obtain visas before coming to Korea. Special tourist visa exemptions exist between Korea and the countries listed below. It is important to check with a Korean embassy or consulate regarding visas well in advance of your trip. <H3>Visa exemptions - for a stay of up to three months (or 90 days)</H3> Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Commonwealth of Dominica, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Leichtenstein, Liberia, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Surinam, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom. <P>For a stay of up to or 60 days: Italy, Lesotho, Portugal. <P>For a stay of up to or 30 days: Tunisia. <P>For a stay of up to six months: Canada. <H3>Quarantine</H3> No vaccinations are required to enter the Republic of Korea from any country, although vaccination against Hepatitis B is advisable. <H3>Customs</H3> Duty Free allowance: one bottle of liquor (less than 1,000 cc), ten packs of cigarettes, 2oz of perfume (liquor and cigarettes do not apply to minors). Travellers entering Korea with more than US$10,000 worth of foreign currency are required to register the amount at the customs. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> 1. Seoul Tour (one night/two days - two nights/three days). <P> 2. Seoul - Folk Village Tour (two nights/three days). <P> 3. Seoul - Folk Village/P'anmunjom: Tour (three nights/four days). <P> 4. Seoul - Kyongju Tour (three nights/four days). <P> 5. Seoul - Kyongju - Pusan Tour (four nights/five days). <P> 6. Seoul - Cheju - Pusan Tour (three nights/four days). <P> 7. Seoul - Mt. Soraksan Tour (four nights/five days). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Representatives abroad </H3> <H3>America</H3> LOS ANGELES: Suite 1110, 3435 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010. USA. Tel: (213) 382 3435. Fax: (213) 480 0483. <P> NEW YORK: Two Executive Drive, 7th Fl. Fort Lee, NJ 07024. U.S.A. Tel: (201) 585-0909, (212) 688 7543. Fax: (201) 585 9041. <P> CHICAGO: Suite 2212, 205, N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60601. U.S.A. Tel: (312) 819-2560/2. Fax: (312) 819-2563. <P> HAWAII: (Rep Office) 1188 Bishop St, PH-1 Honolulu HI 96813 USA, Tel: (808) 521 8066, Fax: (808) 521 5233. TORONTO: 480 University Ave., Suite 406, Toronto, Ontario, MSG I V2. Tel: (416) 348 9056. Fax: (416) 348 9058. <H3>Europe</H3> FRANKFURT: Baseler Strasse 48, 60329 Frankfurt-am-Main 1. Germany. Tel. (069) 233226. Telex: 416127 KNTC D. Fax: (069) 253519. <P>PARIS: Tour Maine Montparnasse 33 Av. du Maine, B.P. 169, 75755 Paris, Cedex 15, France. Tel. (01 ) 45-38-71-23. Telex: KOTOUR 205626 F. Fax: (01) 45-38-74-71 . <P>LONDON: 2D, St. George Street, London W1R 9RE, United Kindom. Tel. (171) 409-2100. Fax (171) 491-2302. <P>MILANO: Via Larga 23, 20122 Milano, Italy. Phone (39 2) 5831-6009. Fax: (39 2) 583 1-6637. <H3>Japan</H3> TOKYO: Rm. 124, Sanshin Bldg., 4-1, 1-chome, Yuraku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel. (03) 3580-3941/2. Fax: (03) 3591-4601. <P> OSAKA: 8th Fl., KAL Bldg., 1-9, 3-chome, Hon-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan. Tel. (06) 266-0847/8. Fax: (06) 266-0803. <P> FUKUOKA: 6th floor, Asahi Bldg., 1-1, 2-chome, Hakata Ekimae, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka, Japan. Tel. (092) 471-717-1/5. Fax: (092) 474-8015. <P>SAPPORO: Sapporo MN Bldg., Nishi 3-chome, Kita I - Cho, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan. Tel. (011) 210-8081/2, Fax: (011) 210-8083. <H3>Asia</H3> NAGOYA: 9th Fl, Toyopet Nissani Bldg, 13-30 Higashi Sakura 2-chome, Higashi-ku, Nagoya, Japan. Tel: (52) 933 6550/2, Fax: (52) 933 6553. HONG KONG: Suite 3203, 32/F, Citibank Tower, 3 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel. 2523-8065/7. Fax: 2845-0765. <P> BEIJING: Rm 408410 B Tower, Ceroil Plaza No 8, Jianguomenneidaije, Beijing 100005, China, Tel: (10) 526 0837/8, Fax: (10) 526 0839. SINGAPORE: #20-01, 24 Raffles Place, Clifford Centre, Singapore 0104. Tel. (65) 533-0441/2, 5330442. Fax: (65) 534-3427. <P> TAIPEI: Rm. 1813, 18th Fl., Int'l Trade Center Bldg., 333 Keelung Rd. Sec. I, Taipei 10548, Taiwan, Rep. of China. Tel. (02) 720-8049, 720-8281. Fax: (02) 757-65 14. <P> BANGKOK: 15th Fl., Silom Complex Building, 191 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand. Tel. (2) 231-3895/6. Fax: (2) 231-3897. <H3>Oceania</H3> SYDNEY N.S.N.: 17th Fl., Tower Bldg., Australia Sq., George St., Sydney N.S.W, 2000, Australia. Tel. (02) 252-4147/8. Fax: (02) 251-2104. <P> <P> <IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Korea thanks to the co-operation of the Korea National Tourism Corporation in Seoul.</I> <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>