A spirit of Gyeonggi-do, respiring with the world, in harmony with the world,
for mutual development on the world stage
South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia, forming the bottom half of the Korean peninsula. It is a presidential state, the 4th-largest economy in Asia and the 12-largest worldwide, whose citizens enjoy a generally high standard of living. South Korea in its present form was established in 1945, however Korean history overall officially dates back to 2333 BCE with the establishment of Gojoseon, the first kingdom.
Geography and Population
Geographically, South Korea covers a total area of 100, 210 km² (38,691 mi²). It has a total population of approximately 50.2 million – about 10 million of which is concentrated in Seoul, the capital and largest city. The terrain is primarily mountainous and surrounded on 3 sides by sea, with the East Sea to the east, Korea Strait and East China Sea to the south, the West (Yellow) Sea to the west, and North Korea connecting the country to Asia in the north.
Gyeonggi is the most populous province in South Korea, with a combined population of 25.6 million people (approximately half of the national total) across three administrative zones covering a total area of 11,730km². It is a landlocked region whose name literally means ‘surrounding the capital’, describing its torus-like encapsulation of Seoul, the Korean capital. Its capital is Suwon, one of 28 cities across the province, and its official symbols are the dove, the gingko, and the forsythia. As with much of the country, Gyeonggi is primarily mountains, with tall jagged mountain ranges and deep river valleys.
The South Korean climate ranges from humid continental to humid subtropical depending upon the latitude. Summers (average [*in degrees Celsius] max: 30, average min: 22) tend to be hot and humid, exacerbated by mid-to-late period regional monsoons and typhoon activity, particularly in the southern areas. Autumns (average max: 22, average min: 5) are warm and humid progressing to cold and mild. Winters (average max: 4, average min: -6) are cold, achieving subzero temperatures and snowfall particularly in the south and east. Springs (average max: 20, average min: 4) are cool and mild, progressing to warm and humid.
Key industries in South Korea are automobiles, semiconductors, steel, ship-building, and electronics. The country’s top 10 companies are: Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor, POSCO, Kia Motors, Hyundai Mobis, LG Chem, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Life Insurance, Shinhan Financial Group, and SK Hynix.
The South Korean unit of currency is the won (KRW), denoted by the symbol W. Hard-currency denominations of the won are available in 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 50,000 on bank notes and 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 on coins.
Currency can be exchanged at any of the major domestic and international banks, exchange centers, and authorized private exchange bureaus. Exchange centers are also available at Gimpo and Incheon International Airports.
* 1USD = 1,061.86 KRW (as of November, 2013)
The following traveler’s checks may be exchanged into cash in Korea at any major bank or authorized exchange center:
- American Express
- Thomas Cook
Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Diners Club are widely-accepted at major hotels, department stores, large restaurants, and other stores. Not all stores can process foreign cards – be sure to carry a moderate supply of cash at all times.
Regular ATMS and cash-dispenser (no-deposit) ATMS are widely-available in Korea, with cash-dispensers universally providing English. These can most commonly be found at airports, bus and subway stations, and at many convenience stores. English-language options are also becoming increasingly common at regular ATMS. Although cash dispenser ATMS usually support Plus, Cirrus, Maestro and also some other services such as China UnionPay, Electron, and JCB, major banks will often have at least one ATM that also supports international services. For any queries or assistance, phone the Korea Travel Hotline on 1330.
Official Korean National Holidays
|New Year’s Day
|Lunar New Year’s Day
||1st Day of 1st Lunar Month
|Independence (Declaration) Day
||8th Day of 4th Lunar Month
|Mid-Autumn Festival (Chuseok)
||15th Day of 8th Lunar Month
|Armed Forces Day
|National Foundation Day
Other Official Days
- Banks :
- 09:00-16:00 weekdays (closed weekends and national holidays)
- Government Offices and Related Organizations :
- 09:00-16:00 (closed weekends and national holidays)
- Post Offices :
- 09:00-18:00 (weekdays); 09:00-13:00 (Saturdays) (closed weekends and national holidays)
- Department Stores :
- 10:30-20:00 (closed one day every month, exact day varies by department store)