The Republic of Korea, also known as South Korea or simply just Korea is one of the four Asian Tigers of the Far East. It is located on the southern portion of the Korean peninsula and is home to 50 million people. South Korea also has twin sister, North Korea, or The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. South Korea’s influence on our world is growing by the day, with everything from cars to electronics, music and even sports. It has become one of Asia’s biggest success stories in recent times.
Everyone, say annyeonghaseyo to the Republic of Korea !
There are many things I like about South Korea. However, I can only list down the biggest reasons and points of interest due to time constraints. So without further a due, lets begin.
As you may have guessed, the first point of interest is all about Korean pop music. K-Pop is an abbreviation for Korean Pop. According to Wikipedia, K-pop kicked off in the 1990s; only two decades ago ! How is it possible that K-Pop has become one of the most popular music genres of the 21st century in just 2 decades ? To tell you the truth, I don’t really know. It is beyond me why kids and teens nowadays are drawn to K-Pop like magnets. However, I can give a few possible theories as to exactly why K-Pop is so popular today.
Most non- Korean speaking people hardly mind the fact that they cant understand the messages the songs are trying to convey since the majority of them are sung in the Korean language. What does this prove? This proves that non- Korean speaking people probably like K-Pop because of the catchy tunes. I also noticed that Korean music videos are just full of energy. Now it makes sense why kids and teens love K-Pop so much, they simply just cant resist it.
Many people also like K-Pop simply because they absolutely adore the pretty girls and handsome guys who make up the bands. For example, SNSD ( pictured above ) is now one of Asia’s most popular girl bands. You cant help but to adore ( or even fall in love with ) them sometimes. I have many friends who only like K-Pop because of the girls ( and guys ). Another point worth noting is that K-Pop bands are highly organized. Lets take for instance the bands above, Super Junior, SNSD and 2NE1. They are made up of multiple members and I can barely keep track of them. Fortunately, their record labels and organizations do, namely S. M. Entertainment, Y.G Entertainment, D.S.P Entertainment and J.Y.P Entertainment. K-Pop is mostly a girl/ boy band thing ( though solo artists are also present ). Few Western bands are as large as those found in South Korea.
One more thing I have also noticed is that K-Pop surprisingly does not sport excessive adult themes. Most of the K-Pop songs and bands I’ve come across only express minimal adult content ( sexual themes, use of drugs, foul language etc. ). This is something worthy of praise. Almost every single song I hear on the radio today sport negative themes in one way or another. You may not realize it at first, but the more you pay attention to the lyrics and the messages the songs are trying to convey, the sooner you will realize the sheer amount of negativity present in the songs. This is bad because it pollutes the hearts and minds of young children and teenagers. Clearly, many of these songs are not meant for children but the majority of kids nowadays don’t seem to realize this. They have grown tired of listening to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and have decided to embrace Eminem, Ke$ha and Lady GaGa instead. K-Pop expresses very little negativity if compared to Western pop music. This may be the one true reason why I will always respect and like K-Pop.
K-Pop is already mainstream in the Asia- Pacific region and is slowly gaining popularity in North America, Europe, Australia, South America and The Middle East. I honestly don’t mind the fact that K-Pop is taking over the music world since it is at the most part devoid of excess negativity.
Korea’s Success Story
South Korea is a success story in the making.
To those of you who do not know, Korea was a relatively minor and unknown territory in Asia before the 20th century. It was only during the latter half of the 20th century and the current 21st century that South Korea really made a name for itself. In the past, there was no such thing as North Korea and South Korea; it was simply just Korea back then. Like Japan and China, Korea had closed their doors to the outside world because they were not big fans of the Western superpowers and colonialists ( namely the United States, United Kingdom, France, Holland, Spain and Portugal ) at that time who had conquered much of the third- world by the 1800s. Because of their closed- doors policy, Koreans never got a chance to trade with the outside world. Hence, Korea’s economy never managed to develop properly in the past. At one time, Korea was believe it or not, one of the poorest countries in the world. However, today’s South Korea is the total opposite of it’s former self, with gleaming tall skyscrapers and a bustling economy to match.
During the 20th century, World War II broke out and Korea was annexed by imperial Japan. During those dark times, Korea’s situation went from bad to worse. When World War II ended in 1945, Japan surrendered Korea to the United States and the Soviet Union. Korea was unfortunately split in half during the process. The Soviet Union occupied the northern half ( now North Korea ) and the U.S occupied the southern half ( South Korea ). North Korea was influenced by the Soviet Union’s communist ideology whereas South Korea was taught they ways of democracy by the U.S.. Relations between the two Koreas soured shortly after separation. To make matters worse, just 5 years later, North Korea invaded South Korea, sparking the infamous Korean War. The U.S and U.N had backed South Korea throughout the war whereas China and the Soviets supported North Korea. The fighting stopped in 1953. The war witnessed the death of 2.5 million Korean civilians. Technically, the 2 Koreas are still at war because no peace treaty was signed in 1953 when the conflict ended.
After the Korean War, South Korea fell into political unrest for several decades. This is also when South Korea’s economy developed rapidly, especially during the dark years of General Park Chung- hee’s dictatorship. The grass was not any greener on the other side either, for North Korea suffered greatly under the rule of Kim-Il Sung. Over time, other countries started to take notice of South Korea. This was partly due to the rise of South Korea’s export- import industry. South Korea’s automotive and electronics industry underwent a development boom in the late 20th century. This brought about the accelerated rate of development in South Korea. Unfortunately, communist North Korea was not so fortunate, whom had hardly changed since the war 57 years ago.
This is why I really respect South Korea. It is miraculous how South Korea went from nothing to the top of the world in less than a century. I suppose if one were to narrow down the factors, a conclusion would be drawn based on the competitive nature of the South Koreans. The South Koreans wield unquestionable loyalty to their country and are willing to sacrifice the well- being of their lives for the development of their country. Today, South Korea is the second most developed country in the Asia- Pacific region, closely tailing Japan and ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. It is also the 12th most developed country in the world as of 2010 and is making steady progress. All this in less than 65 years? You just have to give South Korea some credit folks !
Korea Is Innovative
South Korea is one of the most innovative countries in the world. It places within the Top 10 in the Global Innovation Index. The snapshot from Wikipedia ( pictured above ) justifies this statement. As mentioned above, South Korea underwent a development boom during the latter half of the 20th century. However, none of this would have been made possible without the determination of the Korean people for better life standards and greater wealth.
South Korea wasn’t always the prosperous nation we are so familiar with today. As mentioned above, Korea was indeed very poor when compared to it’s other Asian neighbours during the mid- 20th century. Japan was already far ahead of Korea and China was also doing well. Korea did not have oil, tin or rubber unlike her neighbours in Southeast Asia either. Korea had a mostly agrarian economy before the Korean War. Furthermore, South Korea depended heavily on foreign aid during the first few decades in the aftermath of the war. The South Koreans started to industrialize their economy in the 1960s by investing greatly in human resource development. Their national companies were also forced to compete in the global market, encouraging innovation. They used relatively primitive means and foreign technologies at first such as reverse engineering, OEM ( Original Equipment Manufacturing ) and foreign licensing to develop their workforce. By the 1970s, R&D ( Research and Development ) kicked off in South Korea, sparking accelerated innovation and the rise of South Korea’s industries and economy.
Today’s South Korea has come a long way since then. South Korean products can be found in almost every corner of the globe. However, that is not good enough for the Koreans. They want to distinguish themselves from the others by bringing out ever more innovative and unique products. Some examples are South Korea’s LG and Samsung, with their varieties of high- end and cutting edge smart-phones, televisions and whatnot. Not to forget Hyundai and Kia, pride and joy of South Korea’s automotive industry. They are testaments to the South Korean people’s willpower and desire for change, innovation and continuous improvement.
This is exactly why South Korea is among my most respected countries in the world. However, this respect only came after years of initial rejection; I was never a big fan of South Korean products in the past. I know it is not just me, for many still dislike Korean products as they are considered cheap and sub- par to their superior Japanese equivalents. However, on one eventful day while reading up on Hyundai, I realized that Korean products needed a second chance. I gave them that second chance in 2010 and I am pleased to say that the Koreans did not disappoint. I was caught off guard time and time again with every passing achievement the Koreans had accomplished. For a new country, South Korea not only did well for themselves, they also did well for all of us. Thanks to the Koreans, we can enjoy the pleasure of driving with affordable yet functional Korean cars, watch movies in high definition on the latest 3DTV technology, have the luxury of owning a touch- screen smart- phone and much, much more. Korea’s contribution may be relatively small if compared to other established countries like Japan and the United States but they are nevertheless showing no signs of slowing down. South Korea may become the technological capital of the world in just a handful of years at soonest if everything progresses at the current rate. Imagine that.
– NOTE : This point of interest has been summarized for economical purposes.
South Korea has the some of the best internet service in the world. According to Ookla, South Korea’s average download speed is about 32Mbps and the average upload speed is around 24Mbps as of writing. Those are really big figures for a relatively new country like South Korea. Many countries still do not have a double- digit average today. For those of you who do not know, having high bandwidth internet service means you do not have to wait for pages to load, videos to buffer and your downloads will be much faster. Better quality service means disruptions will be few and far between. In general, you will get an all round better internet surfing experience. This is also one of many reasons why I admire South Korea.
This concludes the article. I hope you enjoyed reading it. This has to be my best article yet. I have tried my best to improve wherever I could. Let me know what you think! Please share your comments on this article below or on my facebook page. Once more, I thank you my dear readers for your time. I will be back with a new article next week.
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– Updated and revised on May 24th, 2011.
- Added 1 point of interest ( Korea Is Innovative ).
- Summarized 1 point of interest ( Internet Connection ).
- Deleted unnecessary sentences and words to preserve neutrality.
- Added relevant sentences and words to justify facts and points of interest.
- Added ‘ Credits ‘ section.
- Added ‘ Contact ‘ section.
- Changed and added some photos.
- Other minor adjustments.
– Updated 16.12.11