Portal:Korea

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Korea, called Hanguk (Korean: 한국; Hanja: 韓國) in South Korea and Chosŏn (Korean: 조선; Hanja: 朝鮮) in North Korea, is a civilization and geographical area situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia, bordering China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast, with Japan situated to the southeast across the Korea Strait. It is often called the "Land of the Morning Calm", a term first used during the Joseon dynasty.

One of the oldest civilizations in the world, Korea's history began with the founding of Gojoseon, dating back to approximately 2,333 B.C. After the Three Kingdoms period, Korea enjoyed long periods of peace during which its culture, science and technology flourished. Despite this relative tranquility, Korea was often a target for invasion and had to defend itself in many wars. As a result, starting in the 17th century, Korea's leaders cut off almost all interaction with the outside world. Because of this, Korea was annexed in 1910 and became divided after the Korean War into two political entities, North Korea and South Korea.

North Korea declares itself to be a self-reliant socialist state that is often described by international outlets as Stalinist and isolationist. It is currently ruled by the Kim dynasty, under which the country has become the world's most militarized society with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. North Korea has often emerged as a subject of controversy due to alleged human rights abuses and its unsanctioned nuclear weapons program, the latter of which makes it a threat to regional security.

South Korea on the other hand is a capitalist liberal democracy, and by 1995, became the world's 11th largest economy. It is also currently the world's fifth largest exporter and seventh largest importer, all feats achieved during South Korea's miraculous economic growth after the Korean War. South Korea also maintains a large military due to strained relations with the North, with 650,000 active troops and 3.2 million reserve troops. Due to both its economic and military prowess, South Korea is a regional power, also enjoying membership in the United Nations, G-20 major economies and the OECD.

Korea is populated by a relatively homogeneous ethnic group, the Koreans, who speak Korean, a distinct language not known to be related to any other language, and which uses a unique script, known as Hangul in South Korea, and as Chosongul in North Korea.

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An American 2.36-inch bazooka team takes aim at a North Korean tank during the Battle of Osan.

The Battle of Osan was the first engagement between United States and North Korean forces during the Korean War, on July 5, 1950. A U.S. task force of 400 infantry supported by an artillery battery was moved to Osan, south of the South Korean capital Seoul, and ordered to fight as a rearguard to delay advancing North Korean forces while additional U.S. forces arrived in the country to form a defensive line. The task force lacked both anti-tank guns and effective infantry anti-tank weapons. Aside from a limited number of HEAT shells for the unit's 105-mm howitzers, crew-served weapons capable of defeating the T-34 had not been distributed to U.S. Army forces in Korea at the time. In the first encounter, a North Korean tank column overran the task force and continued its advance south. After the column had successfully breached American lines, the task force opened fire on a force of some 5,000 North Korean infantry approaching its position, temporarily holding up the North Korean advance. Eventually, North Korean troops overwhelmed American positions, and the remnants of the task force retreated in disorder.

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Taepyeongmu
Credit: Ddol-mang

Taepyeongmu (태평무), a Korean dance wishing a great peace for Korea. Its origin is unknown but the late Han Seungjun (한성준 韓成俊 1875-1941), a known dancer and drummer, rearranged it in the early 20th century. It is assumed to have been a court dance occasionally performed by kings during the Joseon dynasty of Korea. Therefore, the costumes used for dancers are almost similar to a king and queen's gwanbok (관복, official clothing). Taepyeongmu is designated as one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of South Korea.

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Mo Tae-Bum during the 500 m speed skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

Mo Tae-bum (Hangul: 모태범, Hanja: 牟太釩 born 15 February 1989) is a South Korean speed skater. He is the 2010 Olympic Champion and the 2012 World Champion in 500 m. He started speedskating while in the third grade. Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Mo won two distances at the 2006 World Junior Speed Skating Championships. He has competed on the national level since 2004 and has competed internationally since 2005. He won two Junior World Championships in 2006, but did not win any other events until 2009. In 2009 he won gold in the 1000 m and 1500 m events at the Winter Universiade. The international community gave him little attention before the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, but he became the first Korean to win a gold medal in a long track speed skating event as well as earning the silver medal in the 1000 m race. This was a large upset, as he was ranked fourteenth in the world in the 500 m race. Lee Myung-bak congratulated Mo for his achievements in speed skating following these wins. Mo currently attends the Korea National Sport University, and lives with his parents in Pocheon province.

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Sui-ho Dam under construction in 1942

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