Korea is a country with an amazing history, beautiful nature and a great future. It has long enjoyed consistently high popularity among tourists as a destination for mass tourism: people go there to relax at local hot springs and clean sandy beaches, go skiing, and also in search of unique architecture and ancient monuments.
COUNTRY INFORMATION – KOREA
Korea got its name from the first Persian merchants who visited the peninsula: they named the country after the ruling dynasty at that time (X-XIV centuries) – Koryo, which later transformed into the modern name. Also quite well-known is one of the self-names of Koreans – “Joseon”, which can be translated as “Land of the morning freshness.”
If we turn to the Korean legend about the creation of the country, we can hear the following: The Heavenly Ruler Hwang In had a son, Hwang Un. And Hwang Un dreamed of life not in heaven, but on earth — where green trees grow, flowers bloom, rivers flow, various animals live and people live. His heavenly father knew about this and allowed his son to fulfill his dream – to leave for the world of people. He gave him the round seal of the ruler – the chosen one of heaven and three thousand loyal spirits. Hwang Ung went on a golden chariot with subjects to the ground, to Mount Taebaeksan under the canopy of sandalwood and founded the city of Sinsi “Divine City”. He established 360 positions in his kingdom: Minister of Winds, Minister of Rains, Clouds, Clouds, and so on. Invented laws, began to teach people his laws, crafts, medicine.
At that time, a tiger and a bear lived in the same cave on Mount Taebaeksan. For a long time they dreamed of becoming people, so that they even grew old. And they prayed to Hwang Unu and asked them to fulfill their dream. And the ruler took pity on them and gave them a stalk of wormwood and 20 cloves of garlic and ordered them to eat only this and live in a cave for 100 days and not go out into the light of sunlight. And the animals rejoiced. Only the tiger could not stand it and after 20 days he ran away to hunt for sunlight. The she-bear survived and became a woman – Unnyo. And she was young and beautiful, but she did not have a husband. And she began to pray to Hwang Un and bring offerings to him, asking for a husband and a child. And then, seeing such zeal and tears of a woman, the heavenly ruler himself took her as his wife. And their son Tangun Wangom was born. Tangun grew up and founded Ancient Korea – Ko Joseon, with its capital in Pyongyang. Then the city of Asadal on Mount Paegaksan became the capital. After 1500 years, the capital was moved to Chandangyon. When Tangun was 1908 years old, he returned the capital to Asadal and left the world of people, turning into the Spirit of the Mountains. According to Samguk Yusa, a chronicle of the three kingdoms of Gogukryeo, Baeksa, and Silla, Tangun began to rule in 2333 BC.
The Republic of Korea is a state in East Asia located on the Korean Peninsula. The capital is Seoul. The unofficial name of the country, widely used in the media, is South Korea.
President: Park Geun-hye is the first female president in Korean history.
The Korean Peninsula is divided into two parts along a line just north of the 38th parallel. The Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north are separated from each other by a demilitarized zone.
Administratively, the Republic of Korea consists of eight ordinary provinces and one special self-governing province (do), the capital Seoul, and six metropolitan cities: Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Taejeon and Ulsan. In total, there are 74 cities (si) and 85 counties (gun) on the territory of the country.
The Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altaic language group. The modern Korean Hangul alphabet consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants, reflecting the basic sounds of the Korean language.
The design of the national Korean flag symbolizes the principle of the cosmic forces of yin and yang in Asian philosophy. The red and blue parts of the circle represent yang and yin respectively. The two forces together embody the idea of perpetual movement, balance and harmony that characterize infinity. The circle is surrounded by four trigrams, one in each corner of the flag. Each of them symbolizes one of the four elements: sky, earth, water and fire.
Mugunghwa. Every July to October, the abundance of Mugunghwa flowers (Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus) adorns the entire country with its splendor. Mugunghwa is an amazingly beautiful and at the same time resilient flower; she is not afraid of either diseases or pests. The symbolic name of the flower comes from the root of its name “mugun”, which means immortality. By choosing this flower as their symbol, the Koreans wanted to tell the world about the immortality of Korean culture, the determination and perseverance of the Korean people in achieving goals.
Geographical position: 33-43 degrees north latitude and 124-131 degrees east longitude. (The entire Korean peninsula).
Territory: 223.343 sq. km. (Korean Peninsula) and 101.212 sq. km. ( South Korea).
More than 70% of the country’s territory is occupied by mountains, which makes Korea one of the most mountainous regions in the world. The mountain range, which runs the entire length of the East Coast, drops steeply into the East Sea. The mountain ranges along the southern and western coasts smoothly merge into the coastal plains, where the bulk of agricultural production, primarily rice, is produced.
Population: 50 million people.
GDP: 1.574 trillion dollars
Leading Companies : Samsung Electronics, Hyundai-Kia Motors, POSCO, LG Electronics
Climate: continental and monsoonal, characterized by a clear separation of the four seasons.
Most of the country is located in the temperate zone, where the seasons are clearly felt. Spring and autumn are rather short and warm, with the most sunny days occurring from March to May. Summers are hot and humid, temperatures can reach up to +35 °C. The monsoon rainy season (“chanma”) usually starts in late June and lasts until mid or late July. August is hot and humid. Autumn in late September brings continental winds and clear, dry weather, making it the most pleasant time of the year. Winters are cold (up to −10 °C) and dry, with occasional precipitation in the form of snow or rain. The best time to visit the country is from late April to October. The ski season in Korea opens at the end of November and lasts until April.
Currency: Korean won. Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged for Korean Won at banks or certified currency exchange offices. Major credit cards such as VISA, Master Card. American Express, Diners Club, JCB are accepted at all major outlets.
Electrical voltage: 220 V, although sometimes 110 V is also found
Traffic: right hand.
Import and export of national and foreign currency is not limited, cash amounts over 10,000 USD must be declared. An entry declaration must be completed when importing jewelry, expensive watches, photographic equipment, furs, firearms, knives and expensive foreign-made items.
Persons over 19 are allowed to import duty-free one liter bottle of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco, 60 ml of perfume, gifts worth up to 400 USD. It is forbidden to export antiques without special permission.
Korean public holidays:
New Year – January 1st.
Sollal (1st day of the 1st month according to the lunar calendar) – falls on different dates according to the solar calendar. In 2014 – January 31st.
Samiljeol (Independence Movement Day) March 1st.
Children’s Day – May 5th.
Buddha’s birthday (8th day of the 4th month according to the lunar calendar) – falls on different dates according to the solar calendar. May 6th in 2014.
Hyeonchunil (Memorial Day) – June 6
Gwangbokjeol (Independence Day) – August 15th
Chuseok (15th day of the 8th month according to the lunar calendar) – falls on different dates according to the solar calendar. In 2014 – September 8th.
Gyecheonjeol (Foundation Day) – October 3rd
Hangul Day (Korean alphabet) – October 9th.
Christmas is December 25th.
Working hours in Korea:
Government institutions: 09:00 – 18:00
Banks: 09:00 – 16:00
Department stores: 10:30 – 20:00
Transport in Korea:
South Korea is a relatively small country: from Seoul to the farthest major city, Busan, you can drive in 4-5 hours.
To move within the country, you can use airplanes (domestic flights), trains, buses, taxis and metro.
Korea has a well-developed network of domestic airlines that connect the 15 largest cities in the country. You can book a ticket by calling the office of one or another airline, as well as selling tickets at the counter of travel agencies (02-753-9870) in the Tourist Information Center of the NOTK. The most famous Korean airlines are: Korean Air, Asiana Air, Jeju Air, Jin Air, EastarJet, Busan Air, T’ way Air.
Railways also connect all the main cities of the country (passenger trains KORAIL – Korean railway). There are three types of trains: the 300 km/h bullet train, the Saemaeul super express train, and the regular Mugunghwa train. On weekends and holidays, trains are usually full, so it is recommended to book and purchase tickets in advance. railway stations have special ticket offices for foreigners.
You can use the KR Pass, which is a national railway ticket for foreigners that allows you to freely travel around the country on KORAIL trains (excluding metro and tourist trains), including economy class seats on KTH, Saemaeul and Mugunghwa trains, for a certain period of time no limits on frequency and distance.
There are also intercity buses that can take you to any city. Buses are comfortable and clean, air-conditioned in summer, they run between major cities very often, every 15-30 minutes. The deluxe express buses are more expensive than regular buses, but are popular. Passenger seats in them are equipped with all amenities, including mobile phones, TVs and VCRs. Tickets are also best booked in advance.
Public transport in Korea is very well developed and also very cheap. It is difficult for foreigners to use city buses: all announcements and inscriptions are only in Korean, so the main types of transport for tourists are taxis and subways. There are extensive subway line systems in Seoul, Busan, Daegu and Incheon. Tickets can be bought at the regular box office, as well as in vending machines. The names of the stations, tables at the ticket offices and the designations of the transitions are duplicated in English.
There are many taxis in Korea, they are safe, well-equipped and inexpensive. They are divided into regular and deluxe. Taxis with Kind Call Taxi and KT Powertel nameplates are equipped with simultaneous translation devices, cash registers and even a terminal with an electronic vehicle location system.
You can also, if desired, rent a car in Korea.
To do this, you must be over 21 years old, have at least a year of driving experience, present a driver’s license and a passport. Conditions for renting a car may vary depending on the company. Car rental companies are usually located at airports and hotels. The largest car rental agencies are KT Kumho Rent a Car and AJ Rent a Car. Both companies operate dozens of branches across the country.
There is right-hand traffic in the country, there are a lot of cars in large cities: constant traffic jams. All road signs are signed in Korean and English, but the English inscriptions are quite small.
Tips and taxes:
Tipping is not customary in Korea. Value added tax is 10% of the value and is added to the price of most things and services. In hotels, 10% of the cost is added when paying for services and lunch / dinner in a restaurant. As a rule, these 10% are added to the invoice amount.
International phone calls:
To make a direct international call, first dial the international access code ( 001, 002, or 007 00 ) followed by the appropriate country, region, and phone number. To call from overseas to Korea, enter the country code: 82.
Tourist safety in South Korea:
South Korea is one of the most prosperous countries in the world in terms of street crime. But wandering alone through parks and back alleys or provocatively shoving your wallet into the back pocket of your trousers is still not worth it. The main caveat: the country occupies the unhonorable first place in the world in the number of victims of car accidents, so the streets there should be crossed with the utmost care.
The attitude towards tourists is very friendly, but there are problems with understanding. Unfortunately, there are still very few people who speak English in the country.