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name of South Korea in the country itself is simply known as the Republic of Korea;
south is only used by foreigners in comparison to North Korea, although both nations
claim the entire peninsula. The name Korea is derived from the name "Goryeo,"
which was a kingdom on the peninsula that ruled beginning in 37 BC, but only came
to control most of the peninsula in the early 900s.
The earliest remnants of today's Korean culture begin with the mountainous landscape
as well as the long coastlines. These mountains isolated the people for thousands
of years with their only true influences coming from nearby China, which was the
only place with true access to the Korean Peninsula. Due to this state of near isolation,
Korean culture developed in a unique way and even today these cultural roots are
Although for much of history the Korean Peninsula was isolated, allowing a unique
culture to flourish, later in history the peninsula found itself under the rule
of foreigners who made lasting impacts while shifting the culture to be more similar
to these foreign rulers. Among the most important and lasting impacts that arrived
via China were Buddhism and Confucianism. These philosophies ingrained a sense of
honor, pride, respect, and a willingness and obligation to do what is right to others.
This is even recognized on their flag as the yin and yang are
shown on their flag as the people have a strong sense of karma and balance
between right and wrong.
Later in history the Korean Peninsula was taken over by the Japanese. This foreign
rule led to a strong independence movement and a growing and more narrowly defined
culture and identity while gaining an incredible sense of ethnic, and later, national
pride. Even today the South Koreans are extremely proud people as they have turned
that pride to competition with both themselves and others. It becomes clear rather
quickly that they seek to compete while striving for perfection.
This drive towards perfection allows the people to adapt quickly and willingly as
they seek any new path to gain a step ahead of their competition and progress beyond
others, both on an individual level as well as on a national level. This is always
apparent today as the country is extremely modern and technological advancements
are a regular and accepted part of daily life in the country.
With the competitiveness also comes hard and constant work, which can at times alter
priorities to work first. The people regularly sacrifice relaxation and leisure
time at the expense of work and a constant social pressure to succeed in business
and sports, which always seems to hang over the heads of the people.
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