Wanna know some incredibly fun facts about South Korea? Today, we will discover interesting things about the country and why people love it so much.
K-pop, K-drama, Korean food, Korean skincare products, and more. With the fast spreading of the Korean wave, it’s impossible not to hear or see anything from the Korean culture anywhere. From social media, billboards, restaurants, stores, and markets, you can definitely see anything that came from Korea. This is the reason why it’s no longer surprising that there are many people who want to go to South Korea or learn the Korean language.
In this blog, we will walk you through some interesting facts about South Korea and the South Korean people. We will discover many things about the Korean peninsula or the so-called “Land of the Morning Calm” and why this country from east Asia is popular not just in Asian countries but also in the western world.
What Are Interesting Facts About South Korea?
The first group of facts is all about the country of South Korea and the Korean peninsula.
North And South Korea Are Still At War
You probably know that Korea is a region in East Asia separated into two countries: North Korea (formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and South Korea (officially known as the Republic of Korea).
Back then, the whole Korean peninsula was one country, but the reason why it is now divided into two is well-written Korean history. Until now, North and South Korea is still at war since the Korean war.
You may not feel the tension, especially in South Korea, but the two countries haven’t made up yet since the war; we cannot completely say that the war is over. Today, both countries maintain a ceasefire as agreed in the signed truce in 1953.
The Korean War Was The United States’ First Major Military Conflict With The Soviet Union
Since 1953, South Korea and the United States have had a Mutual Defense Treaty. As a result, the United States has a sizable presence of troops stationed in the country. To this date, this disagreement has remained unofficially unresolved. After a three-year war in the 1950s, North and South Korea reached a ceasefire agreement.
The DMZ Separates North Korea And South Korea
Do you remember the heartbreaking scene where Captain Ri was about to cross the border towards North Korea, and Se-ri ran fast to say her goodbyes? Well, this scene happened in the demilitarized zone.
The DMZ stretches for about 150 miles (240 kilometers) and generally follows latitude 38° N (the 38th parallel) from the mouth of the Han River on the west coast to a little south of the North Korean town of Goseong on the east coast, is the 1953 military ceasefire line.
South Korea Is Divided Into Nine Provinces
You probably heard of some of these provinces when you’re watching K-dramas. The nine provinces of South Korea are:
- North Jeolla
- South Jeolla
- North Chungcheong
- South Chungcheong
- North Gyeongsang
- South Gyeongsang
In South Korea, WiFi Is Available Practically Everywhere
Staying connected is not a problem in South Korea because there’s fast WiFi available anywhere you go, like in coffee shops, shopping malls, libraries, museums, and other places. What’s more impressive is that even on remote islands, you can connect with WiFi.
There Are Multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites In South Korea
South Korea also has breathtaking gifts from mother nature. In fact, it has multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Tripitaka Koreana, Several Dolmen Sites, and Jeju’s volcanic island and lava-tube cave system.
The Beauty Of The Nature And City Can Co-Exist
Another incredibly amazing thing about South Korea is that you can enjoy the beauty of nature and the city at the same time. You don’t have to travel hours and miles away just to enjoy the scenic beauty of nature when you’re in the city. Some palaces used to be the royal family’s home in big cities like Seoul. You can also go on a day hike or enjoy the beach.
Wildlife In The DMZ Has Flourished
Because the place remained to be untouched, there is a lot of wildlife flourished in the DMZ. While the majority of natural animals and unusual flora have been eradicated in the South, the DMZ has remained unaffected for more than 60 years. That implies that rare plant and animal species have been able to thrive without being destroyed by man.
There have been discussions about creating the DMZ, a peace park, or a national park if the two Koreas ever reconcile in order to protect the fauna. Who would’ve thought that conflicts could somehow have positive effects on nature?
The South Korean Government Is Republic
South Korea is also called the Republic of Korea. South Korea’s government is a centralized democratic republic with three basic branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. In simple words, the power is in its people.
South Korea’s Population Is Over 51 Million
As small as it looks, the total population of South Korea is 51,342,584. The majority of the population is ethnically Korean, but there is also a small ethnic Chinese minority in the country. Most people live in urban areas, which is why many apartments are built in the cities.
The Korean Alphabet Is Called Hangul
If you wanna start learning the Korean language, learning the alphabet called Hangul or Hangeul should be the first thing you know. It is the easiest East Asian language to learn because it is actually made, not emerged. It is invented by Sejong the Great. Every year they celebrate Korean Alphabet Day, also known as Hangeul Day, to commemorate the creation of their alphabet. If you wanna start learning Korean, try learning with Ling App.
Most People Speak The South Korean Language
In South Korea, it’s seldom to hear people speak other languages. Of course, some of them speak English and Chinese, but if you wanna survive in South Korea, learn the Korean language.
Seoul, The Capital City, Is Really Huge
It’s no surprise that Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is incredibly big. Large shopping malls, restaurants, palaces, and even mountains are found in this city. It is also one of the most populated cities in the whole country.
South Korea Is Known As The Plastic Surgery Capital Of The World
Wanna improve your physical appearance through surgeries and procedures? South Korea is indeed the first country that came to your mind. Because of the rigid Korean beauty standards, undergoing cosmetic surgery is very common among Koreans. Just look at the Korean celebrities and K-pop idols. Most of them look different before and after their debut. These amazing results are probably the reason why South Korea gained the title of Plastic Surgery Capital Of The World.
In Korea, eyelid surgery is the most prevalent cosmetic operation. It’s a common 16th birthday present request among South Korean teenagers. Aside from double eyelid surgery, South Korea is also famous for different kinds of cosmetic surgeries like rhinoplasty, zygoma reduction (cheekbone reduction), fat grafting, body contouring, and mammoplasty.
South Korea Is A Haven For Technology
When it comes to technology, South Korea is also at the top of the list. Smartphones, gadgets, and even appliances are always advanced and on-trend. The biggest technology company like Samsung is from South Korea, so it’s not a surprise that it’s a haven for technology. Even in K-dramas, they never fail to feature their gadgets and technology except when it’s a traditional series.
South Korea Consists Of More Than 4000 Islands
Over 4,000 islands make up South Korea, each with its own narrative and history. From a very closed and conservative country, South Korea has slowly opened its country and developed its islands. One of the famous islands in South Korea that tourists love to visit is Jeju Island, which is also called the Hawaii of South Korea.
South Korea’s Jeju Island Is The Country’s Largest Island
Since Jeju Island was mentioned above, let’s talk about it. Jeju Island is the country’s largest island. It’s famous for its beach resorts and volcanic landscape, which includes craters and cave-like lava tubes. It is also famous for the production of skincare products, which are produced from the natural ingredients found there.
South Korea Is A Mountainous Country
For those who love to hike, you’ll definitely enjoy South Korea. There are lots of tourist attractions in South Korea where you can go to the mountains and hike. South Korea has the Taebaek Mountains that extend north-south along the eastern coast of South Korea. A fun fact about the mountains of South Korea is that they do not reach particularly high altitudes.
There Are Three Major Rivers In South Korea
The three major rivers in South Korea are the Han River, GeumRiver, and Nakdong River. The Nakdong River is South Korea’s longest river. These rivers are from the Taebaek Mountains. ‘The Nakdong River flows south for 523 kilometers (325 miles) to the Korea Strait. Its streamflow is highest during the rainy summer months and lowest during the dry winter months.
In August, South Korea Has The Hottest Weather
When visiting South Korea, it’s important to know the weather. Most people, especially those who come from countries that do not experience snow, want to experience the cold and snowy weather in South Korea. With that, August is indeed the month to avoid. August is the hottest month in South Korea, with temperatures averaging 25 degrees Celsius.
The World’s Largest Department Store Is Located In South Korea
Did you know that South Koreans are shopping addicts? Well, it’s one of their past times. Restaurants and bars are already closing around 11:00 pm, but some shopping malls usually open later. With this, it’s no surprise that they have the biggest department store in the world, which is Shinsegae. Even if you’re not from South Korea, you’ll be tempted to splurge because they also accept big credit card users.
Penis Statues Abound In South Korea’s Haesindang Park
If you’re in for a unique and interesting adventure, visit Haesindang Park. This park is not your usual national park because it is full of penis statues, so bringing children may not be a good idea. Nearly 50 penis statues are on display in the park, all for the ancient folklore purpose of charming a virgin bride.
Facts About South Korean People
After learning some basic facts about South Korea, let us now learn more about its people – the South Koreans. You may find this part more interesting because you want to get to know more about your bias or favorite Korean celebrities, so let’s go!
South Koreans Used To Be One Year Older When They Were Born (Not Anymore)
Koreans used to be a year older than you, even if you were born at the same time, day, and year. South Koreans’ ages were different from their international age because they were considered one year old when they were born. However, thanks to a new law passed regarding calculating age, from 2023, a person’s age starts at zero – the same system used in most other countries.
All Males In South Korea Are Required To Serve In The Military
One of the hardest things as a fan of a male K-pop idol or celebrity is when they enter the military. All Korean males are required to enter the military between the ages of 18 and 28. They are required to serve at least 18 months. Whether for personal or religious reasons, those who will not enter will be put in jail.
Hanboks Were Worn By Both Men And Women
Did you see the characters’ clothes in K-drama series like Jewel in The Palace, Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Empress Ki, Moon Embracing the Sun, and Love in the Moonlight? There are varieties of Hanboks that are worn on different occasions like weddings. Those are Hanboks which are traditional Korean clothing. During ancient times, both men and women wore Hanbok. Full-leg pants and a wide-sleeved jacket are included in the masculine version.
New Year Is For Family; Christmas Is For Couples
Korean Lunar New Year, or Seollal, is one of the biggest celebrations in South Korea. During this day, people from urban places go to their provinces to be with their families. Christmas is usually celebrated with their significant other or friends, unlike in other countries like the Philippines, where Christmas is the time for family.
Titles And Hierarchy Are A Big Deal For South Koreans
If you go to South Korea, you’ll notice that they have certain ways of addressing their friends, colleagues, strangers, and the elderly. This is because they value hierarchy. The age and status of a person determine how you should speak to them.
When you’re talking to someone older than you or someone with high status than you, like your boss, you should use the formal or polite form. Talking casually is for friends or when agreed upon. This is essential to learn to avoid being disrespectful and offending someone.
Valentine’s Day Is For Men
Who says Valentine’s Day is a day just for women? In South Korea, Valentine’s Day is for men, too. In their culture, women expressing their love for men is normal and customary. They usually do this by giving gifts like chocolate.
Men Wearing Makeup Is Natural
Let’s admit it, South Korean men, especially K-pop idols, are probably one of the reasons why wearing makeup like eyeliner, lip gloss, high lighter, and the foundation has been normalized in this modern society.
South Koreans Fear The Number Four
In the Western World, they believe that 13 is an unlucky number, but in South Korea, it’s the number 4. If you visit South Korea, you will note that the number 4 is uncommon because it sounds like the term for death. If you enter a multiple-story building, you might notice there is no 4th floor written in elevator buttons.
South Koreans Love Eating Live Octopus
One of the incredibly interesting and weird things about South Koreans is that they eat live octopuses. They cut live octopus and put it in their bowl. Others prefer to chop the still-moving legs off, eat the legs, and then stew the rest of the carcass. If you’re into a different kind of dining experience, this is definitely a must-try one.
20% Of People In South Korea Shares The Same Surname – Kim
Kim Soo-Hyun, Kim Seon Ho, Jennie Kim, and Kim Da-mi. These are just a few of the tons of South Koreans that have Kim as their last name. During the ancient Korean civilization, the last name Kim together with Lee and Park is for the royals and elite only. But in 500 years of ruling Joseon, Koreans began to acquire last names and used these three major last names because of their royal roots.
Several Celebrities Have Risen To International Prominence Because Of The Korean Wave
BTS, Jennie Kim, Park Seo-Joon – if you’re familiar with these people, then the Korean wave has already reached you. Today, South Koreans are being known not just in Asian countries but in the whole world.
South Korean groups like BTS and BLACKPINK have been topping the Billboard charts thanks to the Korean wave. Korean actors like Park Seo-Joon are now being cast in international films, and other Korean celebrities like Jennie Kim are invited to different international fashion events.
Other Facts About South Korea And Korean Culture
If you have enjoyed the first two sets of facts about South Korea and the South Koreans, then here are some more that you’ll surely find fascinating.
The Korean Food Is Crave-Worthy
Who would not crave when they see Samgyeopsal, Bulgogi, Bibimbap, and Tteokbokki? Well, these are just a few of the delicious and famous Korean food that will make your mouth water. Korean cuisine’s popularity has grown fast all over the world, which is also a result of the Korean wave. In fact, by just watching Korean dramas, it’s impossible not to crave when you see them eating, even if it’s just an ordinary ramyeon or instant noodles with Kimchi.
Another interesting part of Korean food is that meals are composed of many components. Aside from the main dish, which is usually meat and seafood, they have lots of side dishes, soup, and stews. Having a Korean meal is always like a feast.
There’s A Wide Variety Of Kimchi
Kimchi is one of the staples in every Korean meal. The most popular kind of Kimchi is the napa cabbage Kimchi. They usually pair it with almost every food, even ramen, and sweet potato.
Because of South Korean’s fondness for Kimchi, families, and villages would devote several autumn days to preparing the winter supply of Kimchi. The annual Kimjang festival is held in Gwangju, a city in the country’s southwest area.
‘K-pop’ Is The Name Given To Popular Music From South Korea
‘Cause I-I-I’m in the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire and set the night alight
If you have sung this instead of reading it, then you’ll definitely be familiar with K-pop which is also part of the Korean wave. K-pop, or Korean pop, is famous music from South Korea that has been taking the world stage. It has revolutionized the music industry in South Korea, and now, different K-pop idols and groups are known worldwide.
K-pop is a musical genre that utilizes many different sounds and influences. The music features rapping, catchy beats, hooks, instrumentals for dance breaks, cool effects, and even wardrobe. Most of the lyrics are in Korean, but there are lots of artists like BTS and BLACKPINK that also produce songs with English lyrics. Some groups also produce songs using different languages, such as Japanese and Chinese.
BTS was the first K-pop act to top the Billboard 200 chart in the United States. This opened the doors for K-pop music to enter the Western World. Today, K-pop has been dominating the world stage, music awards, playlists, and even Billboard charts. There’s no denying that K-pop music will continue to grow bigger.
Psy’s Gangnam Style Was A Massive Hit
One of the first K-pop music that has been known is Psy’s Gangnam Style. It was released in 2012, and now everyone who’ll hear this will definitely know how to dance the chorus. This song is about a way of life connected with Seoul’s Gangnam District. The upbeat music, cool music video, and of course, the trendy dance choreography really caught the taste of the people. In fact, it was even sung in Glee, a popular American TV show.
Video Games Are Considered A Legitimate Sport In South Korea
Do the words “Desperate Effort” and “Tomato Cultivator” ring a bell in you? Yes! These were the names of Eun-Dong and Captain Ri’s avatar name when they played an online game in Crash landing on You. If you could notice, there are lots of K-dramas that feature online gaming or computer shops. You’ll be surprised to know that e-sports actually originated from South Korea. They consider it a legit sport, and now, it is part of the SEA Games.
Parasite Was The First Foreign Film To Bag The Best Picture Academy Award
The reality of life, greed, and the discrimination between the wealthy and poor – these are what make this film bag many awards locally and internationally. It’s far from what we see in typical Korean dramas, where the story is usually about love, family, and friendship.
The Parasite is a film that will awaken somebody’s senses about the real-life situation of people and how social classes differs. This film proves that poverty with, greed, and social discrimination can make someone do unimaginable things. It’s a fact that not everyone can reveal, so Parasite surely deserves this recognition.
In Korea, Giving Someone’s Shoes Carries A Negative Connotation
There are a lot of things to remember about the gifting culture in South Korea, and one of them is giving shoes as a gift. According to a legend, giving a lover a pair of shoes will cause him or her to walk away. However, young lovers these days present shoes they like without thinking about the negative meaning.
Rice Cakes Are Good Luck Charm For Exams In South Korea
Education is really important for South Koreans. So, if you’re still a student and you’re afraid of failing your exams, eating rice cakes is believed to bring good luck. Well, there’s no harm in trying. It’s also a nice thing to do since it’s not ideal for taking exams with an empty stomach and rice cake is a perfect food for that.
For 11 Years In A Row, Jinro Soju Has Been The Best-selling Liquor In The World
Korean Bbq and fried chicken is best enjoyed with Soju, an alcoholic beverage from South Korea. Soju has been popular in different parts of the world until now. You can see how Koreans are very fond of Soju because you can literally see them in many K-dramas.
In South Korea, There Are Two Types Of Traditional Marriages
Have you heard that Hyun-Bin and Son Ye-jin from the hit K-drama series Crash Landing On You are getting married? Marriage is an important part of every South Korean’s life. There are lots of cultures and traditions behind Korean marriage, and there are two types of traditional marriages. The first is known as ‘yeonae,’ or love marriage, and the second is known as ‘jungmae,’ or arranged marriage. If locals refuse to marry, they will be referred to as a “Big Baby” in Korean slang.
South Korean Culture Includes Group Blind Dating
Did you remember the scene in Reply 1988 where Bo-ra and Sun-woo ended up seeing each other on a blind date set by their colleagues? Well, blind dating is normal in South Korea. Going on a blind date to find a partner is okay but don’t expect too much from the first date. If the first thing worked, then you can work on the next one.
Taxis In South Korea Are Assigned A Color Code
A white or grey taxi is a simple vehicle driven by a qualified but unskilled driver. Black cabs, on the other hand, are luxury vehicles driven by expert drivers.
Love Motels Are Popular In South Korea
South Koreans usually rent rooms just for one night or a few hours. This provides privacy for the couple since most of them live with their family, even in their 20s. Of course, there are varieties of love motels, from the cheapest to the most luxurious ones.
South Korean Women Have Variety Of Haircuts
South Korean women have various haircuts to choose from, and their age and marital status can influence them. If a girl has long hair, she might be single. Older women tend to have perms.
More Facts About South Korea
If you have enjoyed the group of facts about South Korea above, here are some more. It’s better to know a lot than to know nothing.
About South Korea
- The Siberian tiger is the country’s national animal.
- The Mugunghwa is South Korea’s national flower (Rose of Sharon).
- The national anthem of the Republic of Korea is “Aegukga,” also known as “The Patriotic Song.”
- In South Korea, the legal age is 19.
- South Korea is home to the world’s first astronomical laboratory.
- South Korea deployed the world’s first robotic prison guards.
- South Korea has a multiparty system in place.
- South Korea celebrates White Day on March 14th.
- Heated flooring(ondol) has taken the place of air heaters in South Korea.
About South Koreans
- Koreans enjoy drinking and partying.
- South Koreans have a fear of the sun.
- South Koreans appear to have ties to Central Asian populations.
- South Koreans work extra hours with an average of 55 hours
- South Koreans believe that the number 4 is unlucky.
- Same-sex touching is common among friends in South Korea.
- Most of the major religions exist peacefully in South Korea.
- No matter how well-groomed his beard appears, a man with a beard is regarded as filthy and untidy.
- Suspects accused of crimes such as murder or rape may be forced to recreate their crimes in public.
- The average person in Seoul gets less than six hours of sleep per night.
- Around 14% of South Korean teenagers are addicted to the internet.
- The estimated IQ of South Koreans is the highest in the world.
- Those who attain the age of 60 are required to give a lavish party known as a ‘hwangap.’
- Yuna Kim, often known as “Queen Yuna,” made history by becoming the first Korean woman to win a gold medal in Figure Skating at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
Culture, Traditions, And Others
- The number 4 is considered unlucky.
- Red is considered a lucky color.
- Spam is a common gift during Korean Thanksgiving.
- Going to a national park is a stress reliever.
- Taekwondo, or “the way of the fist and foot,” originated in Korea.
- Naver is used more than Google by South Koreans.
- Toilet papers are nice housewarming gifts.
- Over 90% of the seaweed consumed worldwide is harvested in South Korea.
- There is an urban myth that it is not a good idea to leave an electric fan turned on overnight in South Korea because it might cause death.
- It is customary on Jeju Island for women to work while their husbands stay at home.
- Crime reenactment is a popular pastime in South Korea.
- Crows are considered unlucky in Korea.
- Leg fidgeting is considered bad.
- Blood kinds are important to South Koreans.
- There is a romantic holiday almost every 14th of the month.
- The crane is a symbol of good fortune.
- If you see a name written in red in South Korea, it’s a negative sign; it means the individual is dead or on their way to death.
- Hyundai KIA is the world’s fifth-largest automaker and Asia’s second-largest.
- Asking “Have You Eaten Well?” is also a way of asking, “How are you?”
Fun Fact: Korean Is Easy To Learn!
We have learned so much about South Korea, South Koreans, and the Korean culture, but why not go deeper? Why not take one step higher and learn the Korean language? You may have known a lot of information and facts about South Korea and its people, but it will be way better if you know how to talk to them and make meaningful connections.
Remember, language and culture are always connected. So, if you wanna start learning Korean in a fun, innovative, and meaningful way, there’s no doubt that Ling app can provide you with the language experience you need. Just go to the site or download the app and start learning Korean now. Who knows, maybe someday, you’ll discover more facts by communicating and interacting with the Korean people.