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currency: South Korean won (KRW)
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South Korea history
An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Tokyo formally annexed the entire Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a democratic-based government (Republic of Korea, ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), U.S. troops and UN forces fought alongside ROK soldiers to defend South Korea from a DPRK invasion supported by China and the Soviet Union. A 1953 armistice split the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. PARK Chung-hee took over leadership of the country in a 1961 coup. During his regime, from 1961 to 1979, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income rising to roughly 17 times the level of North Korea. South Korea held its first free presidential election under a revised democratic constitution in 1987, with former ROK Army general ROH Tae-woo winning a close race. In 1993, KIM Young-sam (1993-98) became South Korea's first civilian president. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. LEE Myung-bak (2008-2013) pursued a policy of global engagement , highlighted by Seoul's hosting of the G-20 summit in November 2010 and the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012. South Korea also secured a non-permanent seat (2013-14) on the UN Security Council and will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. President PARK Geun-hye took office in February 2013 and is South Korea's first female leader. Serious tensions with North Korea have punctuated inter-Korean relations in recent years, including the North's sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March 2010 and its artillery attack on South Korean soldiers and citizens in November 2010. In January 2013, assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2013-14 term.
interesting South Korea facts
Conventional long form: Republic of Korea
Conventional short form: South Korea
Local long form: Taehan-min'guk
Local short form: Han'guk
abbreviation: ROK
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South Korea's capital city is Seoul
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South Korea Constitution:

17 July 1948; note - amended or rewritten many times; current constitution approved 29 October 1987
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South Korea population growth rate: 0.18%
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South Korea highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
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South Korea lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
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About 15% of South Korea's land is arable.
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South Korea birth rate is 8 births/1,000 population
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South Korea infant mortality rate is 4 deaths/1,000 live births
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South Korea fertility rate is 1.24 children born/woman
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South Korea climate:

temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
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Top 10 cities of South Korea with populations (2012 est.) are:
1. Seoul: 9,794,304
2. Busan: 3,414,950
3. Incheon: 2,662,509
4. Daegu: 2,446,418
5. Daejeon: 1,501,859
6. Gwangju: 1,475,745
7. Ulsan: 1,082,567
8. Suwon: 1,071,913
9. Changwon: 1,058,021
10. Seongnam: 949,964
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South Korea ethnic groups:

homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
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South Korea Exports:

semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
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South Korea Imports:

machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
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unicameral National Assembly or Gukhoe (300 seats; 246 members elected in single-seat constituencies, 54 elected by proportional representation; members serve four-year terms)

Administrative Divisions:
9 provinces (do, singular and plural):
1. Chungbuk (North Chungcheong)
2. Chungnam (South Chungcheong)
3. Gangwon
4. Gyeonggi
5. Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang)
6. Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang)
7. Jeju
8. Jeonbuk (North Jeolla)
9. Jeonnam (South Jeolla)

6 metropolitan cities (gwangyoksi, singular and plural):
1. Busan (Pusan)
2. Daegu (Taegu)
3. Daejon (Taejon)
4. Gwangju (Kwangju)
5. Incheon (Inch'on)
6. Ulsan

1 special city:
1. Seoul

1 special self-governing city:
1. Sejong
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic United Party (DUP) (formerly the Democratic Party (DP)) - MOON Hee-sang (interim)

Liberty Forward Party (LFP) (now part of the NFP)

New Frontier Party (NFP) (Saenuri) (formerly Grand National Party) - HWANG Woo-yea

Progressive Justice Party (PJP) - ROH Hoe-chan and CHO Joon-ho

United Progressive Party (UPP) - LEE Jung-hee