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The Beauty Of South Korea | Top Amazing & Mesmirising Facts About South Korea That You Must Know

Amidst the chaos of the forgotten war born a country battling against the North Korean troops who were backed by the Chinese. South Korea rose up joining forces with the U.N. and transformed the rustic life of Hanguk (한국) into export-oriented industrialization during the postwar era. Like the phoenix rising from its own ashes, South Korea prospered and repaid much of the borrowed fortune from the international financial markets through its progressive exports. 

Over the years it has become the most condensed southern country with a population ranging above 51 million as of the latest 2022. South Korea is home to many rugged mountains, serene beaches, volcanic islands, and evergreen forests. Decked with ancient palaces, sky-high towers, ultra-modern transports, architectures of the coming age, and amicable people South Korea has a lot to offer for each and every kind of personality.

It is believed that Koreans are the direct descendants of the migratory Mongolian Tungus tribe who roved into the Korean peninsula about half a million years ago in which the majority is an ethnically homogeneous group with their own culture, customs, and language.

Korean religion is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Confucianism, other than these Christianity and Islam too coexist peacefully. The ideology behind Confucianism was given birth by the great Chinese philosopher and teacher ‘Confucius’ who believed in the idea of worshiping ancestors and human-centered virtues for a more tranquil life. It focuses on the importance of morality and ethics of a person that can shape the surroundings of one’s life through ‘cosmic harmony. Confucius believed that education is one of the most important aspects in constructing a man’s noble character and thus his teachings have been recorded in books by his disciples. The major six principles of Confucianism are :

  • benevolence or ren (仁)
  • righteousness or Yi (义)
  • propriety or li (理)
  • wisdom or Zhi (智)
  • fidelity or Xin (信)

Another religion that dominated the Korean Peninsula from ancient times is Buddhism (the teachings of Gautam Budhha). Originating in India between the 4th and 6th century B.C.E Buddhism emerged throughout much of Asia via the Silk Road. Buddhism is believed to be based on the eternal teachings and thoughts of Gautama Buddha who set out on a journey to find liberation from suffering, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It was first established in Korea in 372 C.E by a monk named Sundo in Kogruyo, the largest kingdom amongst the three based on which ancient Korea was divided until 668. The monk Sundo who came from Qian Qin Dynasty, China spread the teachings and ideologies of Budhhadharma also known as Seon or Sŏn Buddhism (선) among the Koreans maintaining a steady graph. During the royal age, Buddhism flourished widely as all three kingdoms accepted the idea of worshipping a higher spiritual structure Budhha as the idol just like how a king plays the role in his kingdom. 

The main principle of Budhhadharma is karma, rebirth, and impermanence which was attained by Budhha meditating under the Sacred fig also known as the Bodhi Tree. The four noble truths that Siddharta Gautama Budhha learned are

  • The truth of suffering (Dukkha)
  • The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya)
  • The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha)
  • The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga)

In recent times Christianity too seems to make its way into the lives of the Korean people with the help of missionaries and churches like Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches as well as various pentecostal churches to nurture the ideas of Jesus Christ. Hanguk (한국)  has always been a culturally diversified country with no direct strict regulations from the Government. Each and every kind of religion can breathe calmly and live freely.

Surprisingly, even after having such tradition centered mindset in the latest days, it is also being surveyed that the percentage of Korean people entertaining the idea of irreligion (athiest) not following any deity or set ideology is rapidly increasing.

Holidays and festivals are also held and celebrated throughout the year based on a variety of regional, cultural and national aspects with rich colorful cuisine. Even with their godly slender figure and near-to-perfect body proportions, Korean Cuisine is found to be sharp, savory, and richly flavored.

With rice as their staple ingredient Korean Cuisine is set up deliciously with 8 to 10 side dishes widely recognized as banchan (반찬) all served in the same course in each meal containing fermented foods, pickles, meat, veggies, seafood, and the list goes on with stews and their national dish kimchi (김치)  being the mandate. South Koreans consume two meals a day during the cold season and three meals during the warm season. It is believed that in ancient times the three kingdoms Goguryeo ( 고구려 dated 37 B.C.E to 668 C.E ), Baekje ( 백제 dated 18 B.C.E to 660 C.E ) and Silla ( 신라 dated 57 B.C.E to  935 C.E ) have its own distinct food preferences and cultural practices which combinedly influenced the Korean Cuisine. Apart from their appetizing food set, South Koreans are also ranked as one of the heaviest drinkers in Asian Countries. They take interest in feasting their tastebuds with alcohol and a wide variety of colorful drinks often. Soju (소주, meaning welcoming spring) is a South Korean burned liquor that comprises twenty to twenty-four percent alcohol consumed with pre-defined drinking etiquettes. Soju is considered to be a companion of South Koreans in each and every mood; happy, sad, fearful, disgusted, excited, in love, out of love, the next-door boss babe, or the mysterious individual no matter what character your mind chooses to play in the streets of South Korea, Soju is the remedy for it. Another drink that contains age-old ancient stories is their national drink Makgeolli ( 막걸리 ) which is also known as the ‘farmer’s drink’ made by fermenting rice.

Also read: Top 15 Amazing Facts About Korean Table Etiquettes That You Should Know Before Going To Korea

Korean cuisine

The weathers in Korea are as pleasant as the feeling of being in love. With a set of quartet seasons (계절); spring(봄), summer (여름), autumn (가을), winter (겨울),  Korean weathers have a brand new backdrop for each and every season. Summer is the brightest and hottest with a cerulean sky, cotton clouds, and sun following you around with the sparkliest rays, winter is all frozen making a winter wonderland for your inner Elsa. The best season to swoon for is the hanami, the cherry blossom time which occurs in the middle of March till the end of May when the city dressed up like a bride walking down the altar. Autumn paints the picture of a bright clear sky with a palate of earthy tones while Monsoon lasts for half a month to a month, recharging Korea for a refreshing time ahead. 

Korean hearts are as large as their budding population count. With social media nitpicking the darker side of the Korean mentality, it is dilemmatic to choose whether to take sides in favor or against. In reality, Koreans are not at all that unfriendly and off limits, sure they are obsessed over sky-high beauty standards a lot but let’s just admit who doesn’t like the sight of a beautiful view? It is believed that Korean parents in fact encourage giving their daughters a makeover under the doctor’s needle on their 16th birthday to enhance their prettiness and boost the sweet 16 confidence. Koreans fascinate American style and culture a lot and at times found to be taking a good look at the different ethnicities to admire them. They love to observe other cultures and learn from them. The most sought-after facial features looked for in Koreans are a small face, big eyes, plump lips, pale or translucent skin, monolid or double eyelids, and well-defined jawlines in men. Their skincare regime typically consists of 10 steps with the idea to repair and heal the skin through subtle nonirritable products over time.  Korean men are believed to wear more makeup on a regular basis than women as they love the idea of keeping themselves presentable at all costs. In fact, it is said that Korean male beauty products are one of the major contributors to the enlarging one-of-a-kind K – Beauty market. The only reason Koreans seem unapproachable is due to the language limitation as the majority of them do not speak English.

Gender cultures are heretical and tradition-oriented in South Korea the father is considered to be the monarch of the family and the eldest son plays the role of the breadwinner. Males are considered to be the providers and decision-makers of the family while women take the role of nurturing and taking care of the health of the family which includes household chores, cooking, and cleaning. However with the growing westernization of Korean society (sahoe;사회) the boundaries of gender lines are getting blurred bit by bit and even after having a history of preferring sons over daughters, South Korea has remarkably reduced its sex ratios and shifted towards providing equal gender-neutral educational opportunities.

On 17th July 1948 based on the Constitution of the Republic of Korea conscription was formulated which states that all Korean men between the age of 18 to 35 must serve the country under military defense. All able-bodied men need to go through a health examination in their 19 or 20’s to be able to get categorized into active duty or second citizen service list. Only males who are severely impaired or unstable are exempted from the mandatory service. Women can also participate in serving the country though they can perform only active service or reserve service through volunteering. Serving months can vary depending on the type of service one is chosen for and if they are profiting the country’s economy through other arts and sports. Celebrities can get granted a delay in their act of service as it may affect the prime time of their career but eventually needed to contribute to the military. The recent talk of the celebrity town leaving for their serving days is about the seven normal boys from Korea.

The Korean Wave or the K Pop wave, termed as Hallyu or Hanryu ( 한류, meaning wave or flow) refers to the rise of South Korean culture through movies, series, dramas, music, food palate, manhwas, and Korean language. Coined by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1999 when the CD titled in Chinese “Song from Korea” was produced, Hallyu took over the world like a raging storm ever since then building the country into a living heaven. Be it getting swooned by the charms of Lee Min Ho or making our wild hearts dance to the beats of Bangtan Boys. Hallyu and K – POP impressed the world in unimaginable ways.

Another biggest contributor to South Korea’s profit and reputation other than the lens and the export-oriented world is their national sport Tae Kwon Do (태권도). Noted as one of the most recognizable sports, Tae Kwon Do emits elegance in the world of martial arts because of its grit and graceful moves. Other than this, bullfighting and wrestling are also enjoyed by South Koreans traditionally with the recent interest involved in football, baseball, and basketball.

The National flag of South Korea named ‘Taegukgi’ (태극기) was adopted by the country on 15th August 1945 when it became independent from Japan. ‘Taegukgi’ or ‘Taeguek flag’ comprises of three parts; a white rectangular background representing peace and purity. The color white (hayan;하얀) is considered to be a traditional color in Korean culture and is infused in 19th-century Korean attires or traditional Korean garments like Hanbok (한복).

South Korea Flag 태극기
South Korea Flag : 태극기

The red and blue ‘Taeguk’ ( 태극; meaning supreme ultimate) in the shape of yin yang placed in the center of the South Korean flag symbolizes balance in the world. The color blue ( paran; 파란) represents the sky whereas the color red ( ppalgan; 빨간) represents the land each carrying the energy of individual forces.

The four black trigrams on four sides of each corner symbolize the movement and harmony of the fundamental forces each specifying unique classical elements; Sky, Water, Land, and Fire. The South Korean government imposes serious charges and criminal act punishment against any sort of dishonorment to the flag.

The currency of South Korea is ‘Won’ (원) featuring early Yi (Chosŏn) dynasty figures including writers and a portrait of King Sejong. The country’s national emblem is inspired by ‘Taegukgi’ and the ‘Mugunghwa flower’ (목근화) termed as Gukja ( 국자), Munjang (문장) or Gukjang (국장) and the national seal is known as Guksae or Oksae (국새 / 옥새) which is used as an acknowledgment or authorship of South Korea during vital paperwork.

The national anthem of South Korea is ‘Aegukga’ (애국) constructed with four verses that symbolize the country as “the song to awaken the mind to love the country”. It describes how to build a person’s character based on the forces of nature and how one should always act brave and stay devoted to one’s nation. The national motto of South Korea is Hongik Ingan (홍익인간) which means “to broadly benefit the human world” and the national instrument is called kayagum (가야금) which comes in three variants each played with a distinct music type and often partnered with the Changgo Drum.

Bounded by the salty waters of the Yellow Sea, East Sea or Sea of Japan, and the East China Sea and home to the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and other oceanic creatures, South Korea holds records of treasuring rich habitats, rare creatures, and untouched clusters of hidden wilderness despite the rise of  highly equipped and tech fast metropolitan cities like Seoul, Busan, Daegu, etc. Sculpted beautifully by the collision of tectonic plates  South Korea offers a splendid landscape of jagged mountains and active volcanoes coupled with a series of uncommon species of flora and fauna. Red-crowned cranes, Golden Eagles, Siberian Musk Deers, Hodgson’s Bats, and Asian Black Bears are some of the endangered species spotted thriving in the Korean peninsula, especially in the Demilitarized Zone that sets South Korea apart from North Korea since the armistice. The DMZ is enclosed with landmines which benefits the ecosystem of that zone to flourish without the interference of mankind. The Korean Red Pine trees (sonamu;소나무) are considered to be the national tree of the nation and the ‘Rose of Sharon’ (mugunghwa;무궁화) is considered to be the national flower. Among the species of winged creatures, the swallow is considered to be a lucky bird whereas the ‘Korean Magpie’ (hangug kkachi;한국 까치) symbolizes the national bird of the country. Tigers and Wolves were extinct during the Japanese Colonial Era and the Siberian tiger (Sibelia holang-i;시베리아 호랑이) is considered to be the national animal of the country. South Korea also has a national insect of the species of longhorn beetles named Callipogon Relictus which lives in the Gwangneung Forest cut by the streams of Bongseonsacheon.

The capital of South Korea is Seoul which also acts as the treasure case for historical sites and the vibrant lifestyle of the city. It offers an array of excellent tourism, infrastructure, travel facilities, and the fastest internet connectivity attracting outsiders to an unexpected one-of-a-kind paradise. From mouth-drooling street foods to fashion blended in age-old periods, South Korea’s nightlife is an unskippable time to experience. The Incheon Airport is rated as the fourth best and cleanest airport in the world by Skytrax situated in Jung gu, Incheon. It acts as the primary airport for Seoul Capital Area and is considered to be one of the busiest airports in the world.

There is more to South Korea than what meets the eye and even in this digital box where practically the whole universe and beyond universe data inhabitant. South Korea is a place that cannot be summed up with the words and phrases of literature. It can only be lived through embracing the silence of the Han river between the indistinct chatters of the lively population, hearing the stories that the vintage palaces tell, imagining endless possibilities that the high tech brings, and treating the tastebuds with flavourful feasts.

Fun Fact: South Korea can be termed as the robots hub too as it has the highest density of robots catering to human needs from airports, and factories to restaurants and high-tech industries.