South Korea (South Korea: 남한, MR: Namhan, RR: Namhan, North Korea: 남조선, MR: Namjosŏn, RR: Namjoseon), officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. The name Korea is derived from Goguryeo which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia under Gwanggaeto the Great. Its capital, Seoul, is a major global city and half of South Korea's 51 million people live in the Seoul Capital Area, the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world.
The Korean Peninsula was inhabited as early as the Lower Paleolithic period. Its first kingdom was noted in Chinese records in the early 7th century BC. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms of Korea into Silla and Balhae in the late 7th century, Korea was ruled by the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). The succeeding Korean Empire was annexed into the Empire of Japan in 1910. After World War II, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S.-administered zones, with the latter becoming the Republic of Korea in August 1948. In 1950, a North Korean invasion began the Korean War and after its end in 1953, the country's economy began to soar, recording the fastest rise in average GDP per capita in the world between 1980 and 1990. Authoritarian rule ended in 1987 and the country is now the most advanced democracy with the highest level of press freedom in Asia. South Korea is a member of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, the G20 and the Paris Club.
Gyeongju is a city and prominent tourist destination in eastern South Korea. It lies in the far southeastern corner of North Gyeongsang Province, on the coast of the Donghae (동해, literally "East Sea"). Numerous low mountains, outliers of the Taebaek range, are scattered throughout the city. Gyeongju was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla, a fact to which it owes its present-day prominence. The Silla kingdom arose at the turn of the 1st millennium, and ruled most of the Korean Peninsula from the 7th to the 9th centuries. A vast number of sites from this period remain in the city today. After the kingdom fell, the city gradually declined in importance. Today Gyeongju is a typical medium-sized city, having shared in the economic, demographic, and social trends that have shaped modern South Korea. However, amidst these trends the city has retained a distinctive identity. In tourism, it is one of South Korea's most well-known destinations. In manufacturing, it profits from its proximity to major industrial centers such as Ulsan. Gyeongju is connected to nationwide rail and expressway networks, which facilitate both industrial and tourist traffic.
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Ban Ki-moon (born June 13, 1944 in Eumseong, North Chungcheong, Korea) is a South Korean diplomat and the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated college, accepting his first post in New Delhi. In the foreign ministry he established a reputation for modesty and competence. Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006 he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council, a manoeuvre that turned him into the campaign's front runner. On October 13 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On January 1, 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan, and passed several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.
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Religion: Buddhism • Christianity
Geography: Asia • China • Japan • Russia
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