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South Korea

Seoul’s many attractions and excellent transport links make it the country’s number one destination for foreign visitors and the logical place from which to embark on a tour of the country. The country also has several dozen national and provincial parks, renowned for their natural beauty and numerous temples. The Republic of Korea also has considerable experience in hosting major international sporting events, notably the 1986 Asian Games, the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the 2002 Asian Games and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which it co-hosted together with Japan - the first time this major sporting event has taken place in an Asian country.

Practical Information

Area: 99 313 km² (38 345 miles²)

Capital: Seoul. Population: 9.7 million

Population: 48.2 million

Currency: Won (KRW)

Government: Republic since 1945.

Tipping: Although not a Korean custom, most hotels and other tourist facilities add a 10% service charge to bills.

Time zone: GMT + 9

Languages: Korean

Additional descriptions

South Korea: Social customs

Shoes should be removed before entering a Korean home. Entertainment is usually lavish and Koreans may sometimes be offended if their hospitality is refused. Customs are similar to those in the West. SmallRead more gifts are customary and traditional etiquette requires the use of the right hand for giving and receiving. Dress should be casual and practical clothes are suitable. Traditional costume, or hanbok, is mainly worn on holidays and special occasions. For men it consists of a short jacket and loose trousers, called baji, that are tied at the ankles. Women’s hanboks comprise a wrap-around skirt and a bolero-style jacket and is often called a chima-jeogori. Both ensembles may be topped by a long coat called a durumagi.

South Korea: Food and local specialties

Korea has its own cuisine, quite different from Chinese or Japanese. Rice is the staple food and a typical Korean meal consists of rice, soup, rice water and eight to 20 side dishes of vegetables, fish,Read more poultry, eggs, bean-curd and sea plants. Most Korean soups and side dishes are heavily laced with red pepper. Things to know: There is waiter as well as counter service. Most major hotels will offer a selection of restaurants, serving Korean, Japanese and Chinese cuisine or more Western-style food. Korean Food is an e-book available from Korea National Tourism Organization’s website (see Contact Addresses). The most common type of drinking establishment is the suljip (wine bar), but there are also beer houses serving well-known European brands. Koreans offer glasses of liquor to each other as a gesture of camaraderie. When someone offers you an empty glass you are expected to hold it out and receive a fill-up and then to drink it empty. Juniors pour for seniors. The national specialties are: Bibimbap (boiled rice mixed with vegetables). Kimchi (Korean national dish, highly spiced pickle of Chinese cabbage or white radish with turnips, onions, salt, fish, chestnuts and red pepper). Bulgogi (marinated, charcoal-broiled beef barbecue). Grilled galbi (seasoned ribs). Haemultang (seafood stew). Yakju (refined pure liquor fermented from rice). Soju (like vodka and made from potatoes or grain). Korean beer: Cass, Hite and OB. Makgeolli and donggongju (milky liquor). Ginseng wine is strong and sweet, similar to brandy, but varies in taste according to the basic ingredient used.

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