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Travel Asia South Korea Welcome to South Korea

Welcome to South Korea

South Korea, Seoul, Hyangwonjong Pavilion Lake

A country proud of its cultural history, South Korea has several palaces, temples and ancient gardens available to guests. Cherry Blossom Festival is a favorite of travelers, with parades of lanterns and masks, which bewitch the eye. There are plenty of contemporary events such as dances, music and sport events in contrast to the skyscrapers and neon light.

Scenes from the TV with thousands of fans dressed in red to support their team at the World Cup is an image that can convince the world audience, as this country is a fun place, with amazing city, friendly people and mystical landscapes.

Until recently, Korea was a single place, led by centuries-old dynasty. However, the Japanese occupation for 35 years, since 1910, splitting the peninsula after World War II and Korean War that followed, a uniform image torn country. Difficult times that Koreans have made yet be adaptable to succeed economically and also to keep the traditions and unique culture.

Korea is full of fortresses, temples and palaces, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites. In addition, the peninsula on which it shares with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea's official name) is one of the most mountainous regions in the world having also the coastal beaches.

The capital Seoul, Han River meanders along, punctuated by futuristic skyscrapers in one of the busiest areas in the world. The city has a growing use as a stopping point in Asia, or as a cultural center of China-Japan-Korea trio.

Main attractions:

- Visit attractions such as Seoul city Changdeokung palace and Secret Garden Biwon, ancestral altar Jongmyo with tablets of Joseon Dynasty, Korea's National Museum. Seoul tower measures 238 m, on top of Mount Namsan. You can also visit the War Memorial and Museum, and relax into the Olympic Park, or World Cup Park.

- Can be seen Suwon city walls and fortress Hwaseong.

- Go hiking, visiting temples and fortresses in the mountains of Bukhansan National Park.

- Go high-speed KTX train, launched in 2004, and that goes with 300km/h.

- Visit Gyeongju museum without walls, near Busan. Capital of the kingdom Silla for 1000 years, the place is full of history and Buddhist culture.

- Get caught by the Bulguksa temple atmosphere. This large wooden temple is beautifully painted. Winding mountain road leading from the temple to Seokguram Grotto with granite statue of Buddha.

- Go west of Daegu, National Park Mount Gayasan with Haeinsa temple in the middle. It houses a Korean triptych - 80,000 woodcut scenes, depicting Buddhist scriptures complete. Completed in 1252, after 16 years of work, triptych was kept in perfect condition.

- Journey to the Marine National Park for a cruise in the archipelago Hallyeo composed of 400 islands.

- Make a trip to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Panmunjeom peace village, an hour away from Seoul, where peace negotiations were held in 1953. Access is allowed only in an official tour.

- Go hiking in national parks Seoraksan, Odaesan and San Chuwang, accessible from the highway on the east coast.

Gastronomy:

Korean national dish is "kimchi", a blend of spicy pickled vegetables, the main ingredient being cabbage. This kind is prepared in large quantities and is left to ferment fall a few weeks in jars buried in the ground.

A typical Korean meal includes soup, rice with beans and kimchi side dish. Other specific courses are bulgogi (marinated beef strips), Kalbi (marinated beef ribs) and sinsollo (a dish of fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts and beans). Koreans eat with sticks and a spoon, usually at a small folding table that can be moved in any room of the house.

History:

According to Koreans, their first ancestor was born in 2333 BC. Scientists say that Korea's territory was inhabited first time around 30,000 BC, when tribes from central and northern Asia have found this peninsula. Under constant pressure from China, these tribes came together to found a kingdom in the first century. Until 700, Silla kingdom of Korea has their own culture and raise palaces, pagodas and gardens, influence and culture of Japan. In the early thirteenth century the Mongols were scorched kingdom of Korea. The fall of the Mongol Empire, Choson Dynasty took power and developed the Korean writing. Japan in 1592, followed by China invaded Korea. Here, moved Dynasty Chinese, Manchu. Korea closed its doors to the outside world until 1900.

In 1904 Japan invaded, annexed the peninsula in 1910. Japanese leaders have been harsh, anti-Japanese sentiment being strong today, in the whole peninsula. Anti-Japanese guerrilla movement occurred in Northern provinces and Manchuria. After the Second World War, the U.S. occupied the south of the peninsula and the USSR took over the north. Stalin sent Kim II Sung, a young Korean officer, taking up 'communist transformation' of the north. He quickly reaches North Korea's government leadership, plan defying UN elections. In South Korea, democratic elections were held, and when the state declared its independence, the North invaded. The war lasted until 1953 and was killed two million people.

After several years of semi-democracy in the South, martial law was established in 1972. Next 15 years have oscillated between democracy and repressive martial law, culminating in the massacre of 200 students in 1980. In the late 80s, student protests raged across the country also joined the workers. They called for democratic elections, freedom of the press and release political prisoners. In a surprising act for everyone, the president agreed with all demands of protesters.

In 2000, South Korea's president made a historic visit to North Korea and several months later being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2001, President Kim of South Korea became the first Asian leader who spoke to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Useful information:

Remove your shoes on entering a Korean home. At the meeting, a small bow is appreciated by people. At the table does not start eating before the oldest person.

Seoul is a crowded city, so take your mind off to respect personal space. In Korean culture, family and society are the basis, so often you will be asked for age and social status.

Never leave chopsticks in the rice and do not call someone by hand with the palm up and using a finger, such as Koreans call their dog. It is forbidden to write someone's name in red as symbolizing death. Number four is considered unlucky, as well as a multiple of four.

Korea has three distinct seasons: one with a wet monsoon, in mid-summer, a very cold winter from November to March. Off the southern coast, Jeju-do is the warmest and wettest place in the country.

If you can, go to Korea in autumn (September-November). It is sunny, the sky is blue and the scenery is wonderful. Winter is cold and dry, but you can come in this season if you love to ski, if you like temples draped in snow, the lack of tourists and frozen air. Spring can be beautiful, but is the busiest period with Japanese tourists. Summer is hot, stifling, humid, crowded, and expensive and there is danger of typhoons. Official time is GMT +9.