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The Differences Between North And South Korea: Best 5+ Facts

Have you ever wondered about the differences between North and South Korea? If you are a Korean language student, you are probably intrigued about the history of these countries as well. This blog post will give you all the essential information about what sets these two places apart.

So let’s get started!

Differences Between North And South Korea

How are North and South Korea different?

South KoreaNorth Korea
Currency name: Dehan minguk won (대한민국 원)Currency name: Choson won (조선 원)
Official name of South Korea: The official name for South Korea is the Republic of Korea (ROK). In Korean its name is 대한민국 (daehanminguk) which translates as ‘The Democratic nation of the Great Han’ / The country’s short name is 한국 (hanguk)Official name of North Korea: for North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The Korean name is 조선민주주의인민공화국 (Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk) / The short name is 조선 (Chosŏn) or 북한 (bukhan- North Korea)
Sports: South Korean major sports are tae kwon do, football, and baseballNorth Korean major sports are weightlifting, gymnastics and judo.
Population: Based on the Worldometer, the current population of South Korea is 51,371,302 (October, 2022)Population: Based on the Worldmeter, the current population of North Korea is 26,040,961. (October, 2022)
Political system: South Korea has a Presidential and multi-party SystemPolitical system: North Korea runs under a power structure based on dynastic dictatorships.
Tourism: South Korea receives 17.50 m visitors per year who travel from all over the world, according to statistics from Worlddata.Tourism: North Korea gets around 10,000 visitors per year, most Chinese, according to LonelyPlanet.
Airport: South Korea has 28 big and modern airports, from which at least 8 are international.Airport: North Korea has 5 public airports, out of which one is an international airport with two airlines flying to and from this airport.
Lifestyle: South Korean people enjoy freedom to travel around the country and engage in diverse activities without control from the government.Lifestyle: Traveling inside the country as a resident is restricted in North Korea, and North Korean citizen’s actions are strictly controlled.
Entertainment: South Korea’s prominent entertainment industry marked the wave of its worldwide popularity.Entertainment: Certain kind of music is banned in North Korea and in cases, ordered to be destroyed. Only specific music such as local folk and classical are allowed in the nation.
Weddings: Wedding ceremonies in South Korea are a big event including a beautiful dress, food, a big party, and a honeymoon.Weddings: North Korean people don’t make big events for their weddings. Instead, they have a small gathering at home or a restaurant.
Fashion: South Korea, mainly Seoul, is one of the capitals of fashion, even hosting one of the most significant events, Seoul fashion week.Fashion: Some clothes, such as skinny jeans, mini skirts, and specific hairstyles, are banned in North Korea. North Korean citizens must follow the specified outfits and styles described by the government.
Internet: South Korea has one of the fastest internet in the world with a speed of 104.81 MbpsInternet: Only a certain group of people are allowed to browse the worldwide web as a controlled service. The Korean network is called ‘Kwangmyong.’ It is a restricted network not connected to the rest of the world.


Comparing North And South Korea

1. Geographical Differences

North Korea is located in northeast Asia on the northern half of the Korean peninsula. It covers an area of 120,538 km. It has 1671.5 km of land boundaries. It shares a 1416 km border line with China, 238 km with South Korea, and 17.5 km with Russia. 

South Korea is located in Eastern Asia and occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula. It also covers the seas of Japan and the Yellow Sea. Most of South Korea is surrounded by mountains. Unlike North Korea, South Korea is a part of the international community.

The Korean Peninsula

After the defeat of Japan in World War 2, Korea was divided into North and South, the North coming under the control of communist China, and the South, capitalist America. North Korea decided to unite the Korean peninsula and attacked South Korea in 1950.

This war continued for almost three years and came to an end in 1953. The US intervened in the war out of fear that communism would spread through Asia, whereas China and the soviet union decided to join with the North and stand with them.

Although the war ended neither of the two countries won an outright victory. Instead 5 million innocent people lost their lives.

The Korean Demilitarized region is the strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th parallel. It marks the current dividing line between the two countries.

2. What Are The Differences Between North And South Korean People?

South Koreans are allowed to live their life in any way they want whereas the lives of North Koreans are heavily restricted.

busan skyline south korean city differences between north and south korea

4. Economy In North Korea Vs Economy In South Korea

The economy plays an important role in the development and growth of a country. For the development of South Korea’s economy, skin-care product export, Kdrama, KPOP, and Korean food have played an important role. In addition, the South Korean industry has shown impressive growth in terms of Electronics, Automobile production, and Military products.

On the contrary, North Korea has a centrally planned economy focusing on agriculture, construction work, and heavy industries.

5. Culture

South Korean culture

South Korea is known for showing respect to elderly people. In a world where people shake hands, South Koreans bow out of respect.

They drink seaweed soup on their birthdays and celebrate specific days such as South Korea’s independence day, Chuseok day, black day, and red day and they even celebrate a specific day for singles too.

South Koreans are really family-oriented and friendly. They are very hard-working too. Their most famous foods include kimchi, Tteok-bokki, ramen, bulgogi, soju, Korean fried chicken and barbecue, bibimbap, jjajangmyeon, kimchi fried rice, dumplings, Korean stew, seaweed soup, Samgyeopsal and many more.

North Korean Culture

North Korea has an extremely strict cultural landscape People who live there cannot use the internet or watch TV made outside of the country. If they don’t follow the rules, they are badly punished.

There are limited hairstyles and haircuts for men, women, and children. They have to respect their president and higher authorities. There are statues everywhere of their president Kim Jong Un and his father Kim Jong Il. It is difficult for travelers to enter North Korea. People have to ask for permission to travel.

Children have to sing the anthem of North Korea on their way to their schools and when coming back home.

Washing machines, refrigerators, phones, electricity connections, and internet supplies are rare in North Korea.

6. About The Capitals

Capital Of South Korea

The capital of South Korea is Seoul. Seoul covers an area of 605.2 km2 and has a population of 9.776 million(census of 2017).

Attractions that bring tourists to Seoul include the futuristic Dongdaemun design plaza, a convention hall with curving architecture and a rooftop park, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jogyesa Temple.

Seoul is the residence of many popular culture stars and the home of the entertainment industry made famous by K-pop and K-drama.

Seoul is a modern, dynamic metropolis rivaling any city in the western world.

difference between north and south korea

Capital Of North Korea

Pyongyang is the capital and largest city of North Korea. Its population is 2.87 million(as of the 2016 census) and covers an area of about 2000 km. Pyongyang is known as the city of revolution and lies on the Taedong River about 109 km upstream from its mouth on the Yellow Sea.

The famous attractions of Pyongyang in North Korea are the arch of triumph, central botanical gardens, Central ideals zoo, Chollima statue, Juche tower, Ryugyong hotel, and the Korean revolution museum.

Pyongyang is not only the capital of North Korea but is also the residence of famous major government institutions and the ruling worker party of Korea.

7. Military

Let’s also look at the differences between the North and South Korean armed forces.

North Korean Military

The military of North Korea is powerful and personnel undergoes strict training. Men are directed to serve in the military for at least ten years, while it is also necessary for women to enter the service.

During training, different activities and competitions are held. Sometimes, the winner has to shoot the loser to save his own life. North Korea has about 1.1 million active-duty troops and 5.5 million reserves, giving it the fourth-largest army in the world.

South Korean Military

The military of South Korea is stronger than North Korea. Every man in South Korea is directed to join the military for one year. However, unlike in North Korea, South Korean Women don’t need to join the Military.

The Republic Of Korea National Military is known as ROK. It is among the most powerful and largest-standing armed forces in the world. The training period in South Korea is five weeks.

8. Acceptance Level

A defector is a person who abandons their company and starts living in a country of their choice. North Korea is a strict country. People live there in very extreme conditions. Sometimes people leave North Korea out of desperation and move to South Korea.

These North Korean defectors have a hard life in South Korea because of their different accents, culture, and religious habits. They are most of the time not provided with livable conditions.

In 2019 a North Korean defector and her son died of starvation in Seoul. Hwang Jang Yop, former chairman of the standing committee of the supreme people’s assembly along with Kim Dong Hong is the highest North Korean official to defect.

11. Sports

Football is considered to be the most famous sport in both South and North Korea. North Korea is also famous for Ice Hockey.

On the other side, South Korea is famous for Baseball. The Winter Olympics is a famous International major multi-sport event held once every four years for sports practiced on snow and ice. In 2018, the Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Both South Korea and North Korea participate in the Winter Olympics.

12. Educational System

Education is integral in both South and North Korea. The South Korean education system is very vast and students start learning at the age of six. In terms of Education, South Korea is brutally competitive and meritorious. North Korea is among the most literate countries in the world with a literacy rate of 98 to 100 percent.

The North Korean curriculum focuses more on the Kim family. On average, a pupil spends 684 hours learning about current North Korean president Kim Jong Un, his father Kim Jong II, his grandfather Kim Sung II, and his grandmother Kim Jong Suk. North Korean Students learn about “ Revolutionary history” involving music, arts, novels, and architecture related to the Kims.

 Wrapping Up

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