South Korea is a beautiful, mountainous country, rich in history, tradition and culture. Here are some facts about South Korea that you may not know:
- There are 50 million people living in South Korea, and nearly 22% of the population shares the same family name, ‘Kim’. The few different variations of ‘Lee and Park’ account for another 23% of the population.
- Korea started as an ancient civilization first known as Gojoseon, an ancient state dating back as far as 2300 BC. It was only divided in two after World War II.
- Korea is covered in mountains with “climbable” peaks, hiking is a national pastime. In fact, being outdoors on a mountain hike is part of South Korea’s identity. And hikes are never just about the walking. Koreans enjoy snacks along the way, perhaps a pajeon (type of fritter) and rice wine.
- South Korea has given us some of the top classical musicians in the world. It is also where K-pop originated, characterized by a wide variety of audiovisual elements. Listeners fall into one of two camps when it comes to K-pop: you love it or you tolerate it.
- The white tiger has been long considered Korea’s guardian animal. This is why the mascot of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games is a white tiger called Soohorang.
- Winter in Korea is between December and February, with cold temperatures and snow.
- The Korean dish Kimchi, or Kimchee, is now listed as one of the most popular foods! (See our article, “Fermented Foods” on page XX). Made from cabbage, salt and various spices, Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine.
- South Korea hosted the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the capital city. That was 30 years ago!
- PyeongChang is a smaller city 180 km east of Seoul. It is also just 80 km south of the heavily militarized border between North and South Korea. In order to avoid confusion between the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, the “c” in Pyeonchang has been capitalized for the games.
- Opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the new PyeonChang Olympic Stadium.
- Alpine speed events will take place in Jeongseon, at the Alpensia Ski Resort. All ice sports will be competed in the coastal city of Gangneung, where there are great stadiums:
- Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink for Curling
- Gangneung Hockey Centre for Ice Hockey events
- Gangneung Oval for speed skating events, and the
- Gangneung Ice Arena for short-track speed and figure skating events
Set your clocks for 14 hours ahead if you want to catch live action!