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The Historical Cultural And Culinary Delights Of South Korea
South Korea is a lesser known country located between the nations of China and Japan. Although sometimes overlooked as a destination in the region, this region of Southeast Asia is a wonderful place to visit.
Founded in 1948 when it broke away from its sister nation, North Korea, the Republic of Korea became a democratic state at the end of World War II. In 1950, the North invaded the South, leading to the Korean War until both sides signed an armistice in 1953. Both North and South have similar, long-standing traditions, but South Korea has become a modern, global economic leader that has been heavily influenced by Western culture over the past half century.
South Korea is home to approximately 48 million people of which about 12 million live in and around the capital and largest city of Seoul. The land area is 38,463 square miles, slightly larger than the state of Indiana. The climate of this region is very mild throughout the year and the residents enjoy all the four seasons. Korea’s landscape is mostly mountainous and the countryside is covered with lush forests, but in many valleys you can also find rice fields, the country’s main crop.
Many attractions in the country attract tourists. Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul is the most famous. While the palace site is over 600 years old, the actual buildings have been rebuilt several times due to invasions and hostilities. The current buildings house the National Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum. Once the residence of kings and rulers, this palace is rich in history, cultural artefacts and architecture and attracts a large number of visitors every year.
Those fascinated by the country’s history and culture should also check out the Korean Folk Village near Seoul. See how Koreans lived in this 243-acre village during the Chosun period (1700 to 1910). Observe and interact with residents in traditional Korean dress when you meet them, but don’t be fooled. These people are not actors for hire. Many of the villagers actually live there! Enjoy music, shows and authentic food from a long lost but not forgotten chapter in Korean history.
One of the most popular attractions in South Korea is the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, in Panmunjom. Set on the 38th parallel, it is the area where the democratic south borders the communist north. Here you will witness propaganda from both sides of the border. See what visitors to the North would see as a stable, thriving economy, complete with sprawling buildings and highways, but the South is actually a lazy, repressed society. Many South Koreans still have family and friends living in the North with whom they have had no contact for more than fifty years. Travel and communication between the two sides is restricted, and it is hoped that the border will one day reopen once the authoritarian regime ends.
On the west coast of South Korea, in the city of Inchon, you can visit the Inchon Landing Operation Memorial Hall. The site is a memorial to General Douglas MacArthur’s combat operation that led to the liberation of Seoul during the Korean War. There are also various recreational and marine attractions in the area to delight the visitors.
Some of the festivals that visitors should consider in their itinerary include Chunhyang Festival, Nankye Traditional Music Festival and Buddha’s Birthday Festival. The Chunhyang Festival takes place every year in Namwon. Chunyang is the Korean equivalent of the story of Romeo and Juliet. Many visitors flock to the festival in early May to experience Korean dance, music and parades. The Miss Chunyang pageant is held on the last day of the festival. The Nankye Traditional Music Festival is a celebration of the Korean composer Nankye who is said to have created Chosun Dynasty Korean music. This type of music is a beautiful combination of strings, wind and percussion that creates a unique sound for Korean culture. The event is held annually in Yongdong in September. Buddha Jayanti is celebrated all over the country in the month of May. Many Buddhist temples hold festivals and parades on this holiday which is celebrated by many Koreans regardless of faith.
While traveling in South Korea, visitors can enjoy a variety of cuisines. However, most of the recipes are much spicier than most Western palates. Pulgogi is the favorite of most travelers. This is a traditional Korean dish consisting of marinated pieces of beef with rice and vegetables that are then wrapped in lettuce leaves. Along with rice, another staple of Korean culture is kimchi. This side dish is usually served with every meal. Kimchi is a mixture of fermented vegetables, usually cabbage, and is particularly hot and spicy. Since it is eaten regularly, there are many varieties of kimchi to choose from. For those less adventurous, many Western restaurants have made their way into Seoul and surrounding cities, so for those who want to experience the culture but can’t handle spicy food, there’s a McDonalds or KFC nearby.
Please visit http://www.south-korean-culture.com to discover Korean culture.
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