Six Reasons Why Korea is Unique

by Knowing Korea

1. There are two countries called ‘Koreas’


Following the Korean War, there are now two countries who call themselves ‘Korea’, and both are members of the United Nations. The first is the Republic of Korea, more widely known as South Korea, and the other is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea.


South Korea is a democracy with free and fair elections for President, members of the National Assembly, heads of local government, and so on, and is currently led by President Moon Jae-In.


North Korea, on the other hand, is a communist nation ruled by the Kim dynasty, who are on their third round of succession with ruler Kim Jong-Un, after his father Kim Jong-Il and grandfather Kim Il-Sung.


The differences become even starker beyond political ideology. While South Korea is known for hosting both the Summer (1988) and Winter (2018) Olympics, and being the home of large global conglomerates such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai, and K-Pop stars like Psy and BTS, North Korea is best known globally for it nuclear weapons program and frequent threats toward the United States of America.



2. Korean history spans over 5000 years


Korea is a country with a long history, with history books stating that the ancient Korean kingdom of Gojoseon was founded in 2333 BC. As if this was not impressive enough, Korea is also the country with the largest number of historical longstanding dynasties, with Silla (1000 years), Koguryo (700 years), Baekje (700 years), Goryeo (500 years), and Joseon (500 years).



3. Korea has its own language and writing system


Koreans speak their own Korean language and write it down using Hangul, an alphabet created in the 15th century by King Sejong the Great, and considered the most scientific writing system in the world.



4. Korea has always been a cultural powerhouse.


Korea is responsible for inventing the metal movable type printing press 78 years before German inventor Johannes Gutenberg in Europe, as well as the world’s first rain gauge (Cheugugi) and observatory (Cheomseongdae).



5. South Korea may be small in size, but is an economic giant


South Korea is around 100,000 ㎡, roughly the size of Iceland, while the entire united Korean peninsula is still 20,000㎡ smaller than the United Kingdom and two-thirds the size of Japan.


However, despite its small size, with a GDP of 1.42 trillion dollars in 2017 according to the World Bank, South Korea stands 11th in the world.



6. South Korea is only the sixth country in the world to host all four major sporting events


Having hosted the World Cup, the World Athletics Championships and both Summer and Winter Olympics, South Korea joins France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia as one of the only nations to host the ‘Grand Slam’ of all four major sporting events.