10 Things You Didn’t Know About South Korea

South Korea was born on 17 August 1948, after World War II. Today, South Korea has a higher level of education than any other OECD country. South Korea’s population increased by 182,223 in a single year. As of 2018, its population has reached a little over 51 million. Interestingly, 81.6 %  of the country’s population live in urban areas. The first official census was taken in 1949, showing that there was a little over 40 million people at the time. And a fun fact, they are workaholics. But let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Here are 10 things You Didn’t Know About South Korea

1 – South Korea claimed its independence in 1950

South Korea took its independence in 1950. Because of this proclamation, on June 25th of the same year, North Korea invaded it. This marked the beginning of the Korean War. In 1953, a truce was struck but not before countless losses on both sides. It would take decades for South Korean to rebuild. But rebuild they did. And eventually, they became home to one of the largest technology company in the world, Samsung.

2 – They’re known for their booming economy.

There are a lot of things that South Korea is widely known for. They gave us tasty food and beautiful sites. However, this country thrives in the economic sense. They introduced to the world top-name technology brands LG and Samsung. 50% of all Samsung cellphones are created in Vietnam. The annual production of Samsung is a staggering 240 million units. Samsung doesn’t just specialize in cell phones, though. They also produce helicopters, engines, cars, ultrasound machines, household appliances…

3 – It took them only 15 years to eradicate illiteracy.

It’s not really surprising to know that a good portion of worldwide electronics comes from South Korea. In 1945, shortly after the division from the North, the economy began to rapidly grow. The country had already a very educated population, as well as many property rights. This paved the way for them to boost productivity. Once the war was over, the government became involved with education. Everyone needed to be literate. They found out that an alarming number of people could not read or write. They set forward with a plan to solve this problem. By 1960, illiteracy was completely eradicated. It gave the country yet another leg up over several other countries.

Nightime in Seoul South Koreo Passport application travel


4 – The darkest time in South Korea’s history.

25 June 1950 was the beginning of a war that would only last for 3 years. But it went down in history as one of the most notable wars. It happened when 75,000 troops from North Korea marched to cross the 38th parallel. The result of this war was astonishing and crippled the economies on both sides. The death was harrowing, as it reached an estimated 1.5 million total deaths of both Chinese and South Koreans. There was an agreement signed by both countries. It was technically a ceasefire until the two countries could find some common ground and a way to find peace. However, it’s been 63 years and the two countries are still technically at war. 

5 – Korea isn’t just about the hustling and bustling cities.

While the architecture in the capital of South Korea is truly something amazing, there is something that lies just outside of these cities. Lush jungles and towering mountains that create a picture-perfect place. Over 64% of South Korea is covered by forest. There are 8 mountains surrounding the capital. Tourists can visit ski resorts during wintertime, and simply breathe in the calming beauty and peace around. From the ski resort of Pyeongchang, visitors can behold several beautiful Buddhist temples. They can also take in a sunset from one of the most beautiful places on earth. There aren’t just lush jungles and breathtaking mountains, there’s also 2413 kilometres of coastline, with more than 3000 tiny islands offshore.

6 – South Koreans are the world’s top trendsetters.

South Korean culture is a culture that is hard to fathom unless you’re there. This includes the current trends in fashion, music, television, and even the big screen. Things like fashion often change frequently. Currently, the raving trend in the South Korean fashion world is long skirts. These skirts use light fabric and may well be trending all the way through summer. People all over countries capitals are seen sporting these chiffon style skirts. Another booming trend taking South Korea by storm is Szechuan East food. Food has forever been a fascination with South Korean. But they’ve been limited to a Korean-style Chinese food. Now, this spicy delicacy is making its way through restaurants countrywide. South Korean also started the glass skin trend. A trend that gives the face a perfect glassy slightly wet look. 

Forest and city Seoul South Korea

7 – The North and South finally agree on something.

The Korean War has been on for over 65 years. There’s no hiding the animosity that North Korea and South Korea have for one another. Yet, they were finally able to agree on reuniting families that were separated by the War. While these reunions are temporary, they will take place in a resort in North Korea. The reunions will last 6 days. This isn’t the only reunion that has been held, though. They have been held on and off since the early 2000’s. There were 132,000 South Korean who applied to attend the reunions. Of that, 75,000 have passed away. Most of the ageing applicants are in their eighties and are still not sure if their loved ones are still alive.

8 – 95% of the country has a smartphone.

South Korea is the most plugged-in country in the world. It houses one of the top tech companies in the world, Samsung. And 95% of the population owns a smartphone, while the remaining 5% owns a phone. Like a clear majority of the world, South Korean use theirs to watch real-time TV, pay bills, go shopping and scan QR codes. In 2015, the motor company Hyundai launched the first car that could be started with a smartphone.

9 – South Korean men spend more money on cosmetics than men worldwide.

In South Korea, women aren’t the only ones crazy about makeup. South Korean men are reported to purchase more cosmetics than men in any other country. It’s estimated that the cosmetic sales have reached $7 billion per year with men using more than any other nation in the world. On average, men purchase up to 12 cosmetic items a month and women purchase 27. Not only are South Koreans crazy about cosmetics, but 90% of the seaweed used around the world comes from South Korea. Seaweed is used in everything from food to beauty treatments. South Korea also has the highest plastic surgery rate in any other nation in the world. Many young people between the ages of 16 and 24 have reported having some type of plastic surgery. 

Korean food travel passport Korea


10 – They pulled themselves out of poverty by betting on technology.

Over 60 years ago, South Korea had nothing to contribute to the world. However, as the decades began to pass and the rise of technology, automobiles and modern concepts came to be, South Korea has quickly risen to the top of the economic food chain with brands such as Samsung, Hyundai, LG. Also, with a quickly growing entertainment industry, they’re taking the globe by storm. They are among the world’s most technologically advanced countries. Their main economic strong suits are electronics, steel and communication, with crops being only 2% of the nations GDP. The GDP is worth 1.378 trillion dollars and the nominal GDP is 37,900 per capita. 

Ready to travel and visit North Korea?

Let us know in the comments what facts surprised you, and what else we should know about the country. We hope this article made you curious about it and sparked an interest in visiting.

Before traveling, make sure your travel documents are in order. If you would like to renew your passport, click here > Also, before going abroad, we recommend you pack your European Health Insurance Card with you. To know more about the EHIC card or to renew it, please click here > And finally, don’t forget travel insurance. You can compare the prices for different policies here > 

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Richard Howard