Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Ed Hopkins and Siri Terjesen Introduction The Republic of Korea (South Korea) shares the Korean Peninsula with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). North and South Korea are separated by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 4 kilometre-wide strip at the thirty-eighth parallel. South Korea has a population of 49 million (twenty-fourth largest country in the world) and a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1.28 trillion (thirteenth largest in the world, third largest in Asia). South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is populated by 23 million residents, making it the world’s second largest metropolitan area, behind Tokyo. Korea’s other major cities are Busan (3.6 million), Incheon (2.6 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Gwangju (1.4 million), Daejeon (1.4 million) and Ulsan (1.1 million). South Korea is one of the four Asian ‘tiger’ or ‘dragon’ economies described as such for their high rate of growth and industrialization since the 1960s, led by an exportdriven model of economic development. South Korea has a strong presence in oil, steel, automobile, shipbuilding and science and technology industries, including information technology, electronics, semiconductors, computers and mobile telephones. While nearly half (47 percent) of South Koreans report no religious preference, more than a quarter are Christian (29 percent) and about 23 percent are Buddhist. South Korea also has an avid sporting culture, with some of the most popular sports being Taekwondo and athletics. Korea hosted several international mega-sporting events including the Summer Olympic Games (1988), FIFA World Cup (2002), ultrarunning’s IAU World 100 km (2006) and cycling’s Tour...
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