South Korea is a country in East Asia, making up the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and sharing a land border with North Korea. The name Korea was derived during the Silk Road era when the dynasty in Korea called itself Goryeo- inspired by one of the great powers in East Asia during this period.
South Korea’s capital Seoul, situated in the northwest part of the country on the Han River, is a modern and major global city today and the fourth largest metropolitan economy in the world. Surprisingly enough, half of South Korea’s 51 million population lives in the capital. It is the 5th most populous city in the world- almost twice the size of New York and eight times the size of Rome.
Interesting Facts About South Korea
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There are so many things that make South Korea the dazzling country that it is. From beautiful landscapes and 5000 years of culture, history and tradition, it’s easy to marvel at the things that make it so fascinating and unique.
As one of our top destinations to visit, there obviously has to be numerous reasons for it to make it on our list.
Here are our 32 favourite South Korean facts you need to know about:
1- Only 3.2% of South Koreans are obese. They are one of the least obese nations among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, second to Japan.
2- Babies are considered one years old from birth. South Korea has a fascinating but complex system when it comes to age. When giving their age to foreigners, many Koreans will say their ‘international age’ or their ‘Korean age’ which could be up to two years higher than what would be expected, if born later in the year.
3- Kim, Lee and Park are some of the most popular names used across South Korea. In fact, these three surnames account for nearly half the population of South Korea today.
4- Sympathising with Kim Jong Un is illegal. The North Korean leader is not someone to be praised or cherished in South Korea. In fact, it is completely illegal to sympathise with him or his North Korean government.
5- South Korea is famous for its crime re-creation tactics. Citizens suspected of heinous crimes such as rape and murder are led by police back to a scene of a crime where they are forced to reenact the crime that took place. To top it off with further humiliation, the police invite the media to take pictures and publish the details about the crime.
6- South Korea is often referred to as the world’s plastic surgery capital. With the largest market for plastic surgery per capita, in the world and nearly 1 million cosmetic surgeries taking place each year.
7- ‘Seoulites’, much like Tokyo citizens, get the least amount of sleep per night compared to other major cities in the world. The average citizen in Seoul will only sleep 6 or less hours per night.
8- Much like the Western perception of the number 13, South Koreans consider the number 4 to be extremely unlucky. In fact, this number is associated with death and is a belief likely to have come from China.
9- When a Korean’s name is written in red ink that person is believed to be dead or dying. Although it is a relatively old superstition for Koreans, it is still considered to be rude and taboo to write a person’s name in red if they are still alive and well.
10- South Korea’s largest island, Jeju, is home to giant stone statues known as Dol Hareubangs (old grandfather). The statues are considered to be gods offering fertility and protection. Newlywed women believe if they visit and touch the statues long noses they will be blessed with fertility.
11- Jaywalking is not a thing in South Korea. This might seem strange to some of us living in countries where this is common practice but citizens in South Korea will not walk or cross the road if the light is red. No matter how quiet the roads are, South Koreans will wait patiently for the light to turn green before considering walking.
12- There are 14 UNESCO Heritage Sites in South Korea, 13 of these are cultural and 1 of them is natural. This comes as no surprise as it is a country full of rich history and culture. The most well-known and popular sites include; Changdeokgung Palace Complex, Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes, the historic villages of Korea: Hahoe Yangdong and the Gyeongju Historic Areas.
Fun Facts About South Korea
1- It is perfectly legal to drink alcohol in public in South Korea. People may carry their own containers with their preferred alcoholic beverage and sip it in public, no matter the occasion.
2- South Koreans drink roughly twice as much alcohol than Russians. Don’t worry, we were surprised too… With a long tradition of drinking, especially when it comes to their favourite ‘magical’ alcoholic drink- Soju, South Koreans have managed to come out on top of a notorious drinking nation.
3- At least 20% of South Korean men wear make-up, and it is totally acceptable in their culture. Although make-up is slowly becoming more popular across the globe, South Korean men have been adorning these cosmetics long before it became a new trend.
4- K-Pop music is the country’s third largest export. The Korean Pop music genre has blown up across the globe in recent years, Psy was one of the first artists to put K-Pop on the map with his popular hit ‘Gangnam Style’ and then many boy and girl bands followed, such as BTS and BlackPink. Koreans view these artists as some of the top superstars in their country.
5- South Korea is home to Haesindang Park, famous for being an erotic theme park with penis statues and a penis themed restaurant at Deulmusae. It’s hard not to miss this restaurant because of all the ‘jaji’ (penises) lining the path leading up to the restaurant.
6- In Boryeong there is an annual mud festival that takes place for 14 days, every summer. What started as a commercial stunt to sell cosmetics containing mud, has now become a popular and fun tradition across both western and local communities in the area.
7- On average 60% of South Koreans use a professional when trying to pick their children’s names. Many parents will spend a lot of time and money deciding on a name for their child. South Koreans believe that a person’s name can determine their destiny and therefore with a child’s future on the line, it’s important to come up with a perfect name.
8- In the South Korean culture, a person’s blood type is said to be related to their personality traits. Instead of asking what your star sign is, Koreans are far more interested in knowing your blood type in order to understand your personality better.
9- When taking a photo, you will often hear South Koreans say ‘kimchi’ instead of cheese. Kimchi is a spicy and sour side dish that is a famous staple in the Korean culture and a popular phrase of theirs when capturing pictures.
10- Most restaurants across South Korea, including Mc Donald’s, offer a food delivery service. Some restaurants even deliver food with real plates for their customers.
What is South Korea Famous For?
South Korea is also famous for some interesting and quirky reasons. Aside from our favourite facts listed above, there are other reasons why they are famous;
- South Korea is a technology heaven for digital junkies. Slow internet is completely unheard of. Locals and tourists never have to wait for their internet to speed up as they are ranked as one of the best countries for the fastest internet speed connection.
- South Korea is home to one of the best airports in the world. The Incheon International Airport offers travelers state of the art facilities during their transit, such as; indoor gardens, a golf course, a casino, spa’s, free showers and saunas.
- The busiest flight path on the earth, is found in South Korea due to the 280-mile hop from Seoul to Jeju airport. Over 26 million travelers use the Jeju airport, with a staggering 64 991 departures between the two airports, recorded in 2017.
- Believe it or not, South Korea is the breakdancing capital of the world. The country has danced its way to the top of this ranking over the last few years, after the explosion of K-Pop has put them on the map.
Wrapping Up Our Favourite Facts About South Korea
There are a wide variety of facts that make South Korea the fascinating country that it is. It is a highly developed country that still remains true to its culture. Their modern conveniences of today still mix equally with their deep-rooted history and traditions.
Immersing yourself in this unique culture and experiencing their way of life could be one of the best travel experiences of your life. If you do decide to visit, we hope this article helped shed some light on what weird and wonderful things you can expect during your time there.