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May 2005


Formal Name: Republic of Korea (Taehan Min’guk). 대한 민국

Short Form: South Korea (Han’guk, the term South Koreans use to

refer to their country). 한 국

Term for Citizen(s): Korean(s) (Han’gugin). 한 국 인

Capital: Seoul. 서울

Major Cities: The largest cities are Seoul (11 million), Pusan (3.9 million), Taegu (2.5 million), Inch’4n (2.4 million), Kwangju (1.4 million), and Taej4n (1.3 million).

Independence: August 15, 1945, from Japanese occupation; Republic of Korea founded August 15, 1948.

Public Holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1), Lunar New Year (movable date in January or February), Independence Movement Day (March 1), Arbor Day (April 5), Children’s Day (May 5), Birth of Buddha (movable date in April or May), Memorial Day (June 6), Constitution Day (July 17), Independence Day (August 15), Ch’us4k (an autumnal harvest festival and day of thanksgiving, movable date in September or October), National Foundation Day (October 3), and Christmas Day (December 25).


A white rectangle with a red (top) and blue T’aeguk (Great Absolute)

symbol in the center. The white background symbolizes light and purity

and reflects a traditional affinity for peace. The yin-yang circle, divided

equally into a blue portion below and a red portion above, represents the

dual cosmic forces of yin (blue) and yang (red), which symbolize universal

harmony. The circle is surrounded by four black kwe (or trigrams) from the

Yi Ching (Book of Changes). At the upper left and lower right are heaven and earth, and at lower left and upper right are fire and water. Collectively, the circle and trigrams represent universal harmony and unity.

PUBLISHER / AUTHOR: This series of profiles of foreign nations is part of the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The profiles offer brief, summarized information on a country's historical background, geography, society, economy, transportation and telecommunications, government and politics, and national security. In addition to being featured in the front matter of published Country Studies, they are now being prepared as stand-alone reference aides for all countries in the series, as well as for a number of additional countries of interest. The profiles offer reasonably current country information independent of the existence of a recently published Country Study and will be updated annually or more frequently as events warrant.

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