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Yeosu is a city in South Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is situated on the coast of the Korea Strait, in the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. In 2007, Yeosu was selected as the host city for Expo 2012.

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The Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea is an East Asian state located on the Korean Peninsula. It is often called South Korea, which is an unofficial name given to it by media.

History

The history of South Korea begins with the arrangement established by the Soviet Union and the United States in summer 1945, according to which Korea was divided at the 38th parallel north to be administered by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south.

South Korea's subsequent history is marked by alternating periods of democratic and autocratic rule. Civilian governments are conventionally numbered from the First Republic of Syngman Rhee to the contemporary Sixth Republic. The First Republic, arguably democratic at its inception, became increasingly autocratic until its collapse in 1960. The Second Republic was strongly democratic, but was overthrown in less than a year and replaced by an autocratic military regime. The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Republics were nominally democratic, but are widely regarded as the continuation of military rule. With the Sixth Republic, the country has gradually stabilized into a liberal democracy.

Since its inception, South Korea has seen substantial development in education, economy, and culture. Since the 1960s, the country has transformed from one of Asia's poorest into one of the world's most developed industrial states. Since 1990s, Korean popular music, TV series and cinema have been gaining increasing popularity in other countries (mostly in East Asia), the phenomenon widely known as “the Korean wave”.

Geography and Climate

South Korea occupies the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula, which extends some 1,100 km from the Asian mainland. This mountainous peninsula is flanked by the Yellow Sea to the west, and Sea of Japan to the east. Its southern tip lies on the Korea Strait and the East China Sea. Its total area is 99, 617 square kilometers.

South Korea's terrain is mostly mountainous. Lowlands make up only 30% of the total land area. About three thousand islands, mostly small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts of South Korea. Jeju-do is the country’s largest island.

South Korea tends to have a monsoon climate, hot and humid in summer and rather cold and dry in winter. The average annual precipitation varies from 1,370 millimeters (54 inches) in Seoul to 1,470 millimeters (58 inches) in Busan.

Administrative Divisions

South Korea is divided into 9 provinces (do), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi), and 1 special city (teukbyeolsi). These are further subdivided into a variety of smaller entities, including cities (si), counties (gun), districts (gu), towns (eup), townships (myeon), neighborhoods (dong) and villages (ri).

Note on translation: although the terms «Special City», «Metropolitan City», «Province», and «City» are commonly used on English-language government websites, the other translations — «county», «town», «district», etc. — are not official translations, and are only intended to serve as useful illustrations of each entity's meaning.

Economy

Advantages: the largest producer of ships (45% market share). South Korean products, especially cars, are highly demanded in China.

Weak points: high debts and sensitivity to international capital flow. Since 1997, increased labour movements. Public sector encumbering economy.

South Korea has a market economy which ranks 15th (data 2008) in the world by nominal GDP and 13th by purchasing power parity (PPP). Since 1963, its GNP has grown from 100 USD per capita to over 20,000 USD in 2005.

The priorities of South Korea’s economy have undergone significant changes over the past 60 years. In 1940s, the country was mostly supported by agriculture and light industry. During the following decades, the focus was being transferred to consumer industry, and in 1970-80s to heavy industry. After president Park Chung-hee had declared the first five-year plan, South Korea’s economy began growing rapidly, and its structure changed significantly. Thanks to its high economic results during 1960—1990s, South Korea has been regarded as one of the Asian Tigers (together with Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan).

Rapid economic growth slowed down by the end of the 1980s. By this time, South Korea’s economic growth rate fell back to 6.5% per year, while personal income increase led to raise of inflation.

Following other highly-developed countries, by the early 1990s, service sector has become dominant in the South Korean economy, accounting now for two thirds of the total GDP.

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Traditional Korean cuisine, Sokcho
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Traditional sword dance Jinju geomu
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Traekwondo, national Korean sport

Culture

Korea has an ancient and rich culture. Its architecture has a long history. One of the oldest and most remarkable sights of Korean architecture is Gyeongbokgung Palace (“Palace of Shining Happiness”) constructed in Seoul in 1394. The palace buildings are divided into several parts, or pavilions.

The throne hall Geunjeongjeon was surrounded by residing quarters of King Taejo (r.1392—1398), founder of the Joseon dynasty. The pavilion of Gyeonghoeru is located in the middle of a lotus pond. The Palace also houses the National Folk Museum of Korea that features artifacts of everyday life in Korea.

Northwards, there is the Cheongwadae, or Blue House, which is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea.

Korean cuisine is well-known all over the world.

Korean martial art of taekwando has also gained popularity around the globe.

Korean cinema features films by such directors as Kim Ki-duk, Park Chan-wook, Park Kwang-soo, Lee Kwang-mo, Kang Je-gyu, Bong Joon-ho, Lee Chang-dong.

Russia – South Korea relations

Until September 1990 there had been no formal diplomatic relations established between the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea. The Soviet Union only acknowledged the North Korean government of Kim Il-sung that was officially claiming the all-Korean leadership (these ambitions were also disputed by South Korean government in Seoul). Thus, the relations between the two countries have started developing only in the late 1980s, and mostly after the successful Olympiad 1988 that Seoul hosted.

On 20 September 2004, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, being interviewed by Russian newspaper Izvestiya in the beginning of his trip to Russia, spoke of the coming 120th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and Trade between the countries, not forgetting about 140 years since Korean migration to Russia. Russia and South Korea have signed a partnership agreement regarding space exploration and founded a common research centre, said the President.

Using Russian technologies, South Korea has launched its manmade earth satellite and is now planning to repeat the experience. Russia is going to help South Korea to prepare cosmonauts.

According to South Korean President, the voluntary migration of Korean people to the Far East of Russia in 1864 happened in a tragic moment when they were losing their country. Later on, due to various political and economic changes that occurred in Russia, 172,000 of Koreans were forced to migrate to Middle Asia.

Despite the difficulties the Koreans had been facing, Korea was a weak country then, unable to help them. That is why Korea now considers itself to be “indebted” to “Russian Koreans”, whose hard work helped them to achieve great results in the Soviet Union and particularly to contribute to establishing Russia – South Korea relations in 1989.

Just before the trip of Roh Moo-hyun to Russia, the major part of commentaries made by Korean authorities concerned possible Russian energy exports to South Korea, and mostly the gas of the Kovytkin field (Irkutsk oblast). 70% of South Korean energy is imported from Middle East countries. Therefore, it needed to diversify importing form Eastern Siberia and the Far East of Russia.

Nonetheless, Gazprom does not consider developing the Kovytkin field as its priority and still prefers to invest into Sakhalin shelf exploitation.

The visit of South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun resulted in the following agreements:

  • Memorandum of partnership in the project of Sakhalin-3 (oil development of the Veninsky block) and development of West Kamchatka shelf of the Sea of Okhotsk (expected investments up to 250 million dollars) between Rosneft and Korea National Oil Corporation;
  • Declaration to initiate energy export to the Korean peninsula;
  • Agreement on design, equipment supply and construction of the new oil-refining and petrochemical facilities in Nizhnekamsk (Tatarstan), with expected Korean investment amounted to 1.7 billion dollars;
  • A contract with Samsung on a ten-year modernization project of the oil refinery plant in Khabarovsk for 500 million dollars;
  • Credit arrangements for 50 million dollars to finance import of South Korean products and services to Russia.

The total amount of investments implied in the agreements signed by the countries is over 4 billion dollars.

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The city of Yeosu

Yeosu is a city in South Jeolla Province, South Korea. It is situated on the coast of the Korea Strait, in the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. In 2007, Yeosu was selected as the host city for Expo 2012.

History of Yeosu

Initially, the territory of today’s Yeosu had been occupied by fisherman settlements and naval facilities of medieval Korea. During the existence of Baekje kingdom (6th century), the territory was divided into two regions, Wonchon (Wonchon-hyeon) and Dolsan (Dolsan-hyeon). After they had been united again under the reign of Silla kingdom, their names were chanched to Haeub (Haeub-hyeon) and Yeosan (Yeosan-hyeon).

The first mentioning of Yeosu (Yeosu-hyeon) dates back to 940. In 1497, under the Joseon dynasty, it housed naval facilities, associated with the name of the famous Korean commander Lee Sun-sin. These facilities played great role in protecting Korea from Japanese invasions, including those of the Imjin Waeran. In 1897, Yeosu became a county (gun), and in 1949 the city of Yeosu was separated from it. In 1998, the county and city were united to form the contemporary Yeosu.

Geography

Yeosu is situated in the most southern portion on the country, on the Korea Strait coast. It is flanked by Namhae County to the east and north, Goheung County to the west and the city of Suncheon to the north-west. The city of Yeosu includes over 300 small islands, only 45 of which are inhabited. The coastline is 906 kilometres long.

Climate

Yeosu has a monsoon climate, milder than in other portions of the Korean peninsula. Its mean annual temperature is 14.5 °С, and mean annual rainfall 960 mm.

Economy

Traditionally, the locals were engaged in fishing, but rapid development of South Korean economy has transformed the city into one of the largest industrial cities of the southern portion of the country. Construction of industrial facilities started in the late 1960s. Today, Yeosu houses the largest petrochemical complex in South Korea. Iron industry and construction are also well developed in the city. The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by rapid touristic development, which contributed to selection of Yeosu as the host city for Expo 2012. A huge touristic complex is now being constructed in the southern part of the city, its total area amounting to 10 million square metres. According to the project, it will house an entertainment park, hotels, golf course, several parks and embankment with necessary facilities. The total amount of expected investments is nearly 500 million dollars.

Tourism and Sights

In 2012, Yeosu will host the World’s Expo. This year its theme is “Living Ocean and Coast”.

One of the main historic sights of Yeosu is the Buddhist temple Heungguksa. Originally founded in 1195, Heungguksa is perhaps best known for being the training ground for monks-cum-soldiers during the Japanese Invasion of the 16th century. The Hall of Dharma is famous for its frescos and makes a part of Korean Heritage List (number 396).

The city contains lots of picturesque islands, which are frequently visited by tourists. Among the most popular Yeosu islands are Sado and Komundo.