According to Countryaah, South Korea had an average population density of 520 residents per km 2 in 2019, but the settlement is concentrated to the river valleys and lowlands to the west and south, some of Asia’s most densely populated areas. Family planning campaigns have been running since the 1960s.
Exchanges with other countries have been poor since the days of the Korean War. The population is ethnically very homogeneous; besides Koreans, there are a small number of Chinese. Seoul, with its 10.4 million residents (2014) is the country’s largest city; followed by Busan (3.6 million) and Inchon (2.9 million). More than 80 percent of the population lives in cities.
The official language is Korean. The Seoul dialect is the norm for the standard speech. The differences in dialogue between South Korea and North Korea are distinct but present no difficulties for mutual linguistic understanding. In the written language, from the 1980s, there is a clear tendency to increasingly abandon the use of Chinese characters in favor of the domestic script han’gul, which is an approximation to the mandatory orthographic practice in North Korea.
For religion in Korea before 1948 and domestic traditional religion in Korea, see Korea (Religion).
In South Korea, about 33% of the population (2010) is said to be Christian. The majority of these belong to independent communities whose membership amounts to 25% of the population. Protestants make up about 20% and Catholics 10%. In the country there are (2010) 118 different Christian communities. Most of these do not have many members. Only twelve have membership numbers exceeding one percent of the population. It is estimated that just over 25% of Christians are members of more than one community.
About 25% of South Korea’s population are Buddhists. In addition, 15% are followers of traditional indigenous religion and as many are stated to be members of some neo-religious movement, to which one can count chondonism and the Family Federation for world peace and unity. Confucianism is comprised of about 10%.
South Korea has no state religion. The Constitution and other laws guarantee freedom of religion. No religion has any state benefits, and there is a strong distinction between religion and state. Historical buildings, such as Buddhist temples, are to some extent financially supported by the state so that they can be preserved. Religious schools are not allowed in state schools. However, such can easily be provided in private schools.
National religious holidays are Buddha’s birthday and Christmas day.
South Korea – Seoul
Seoul, capital of South Korea; 10. 4 million residents (2014). Seoul is located on the Han River in northwestern South Korea and is the center of an extremely densely populated urban region, where half of the country’s population lives. The city itself, narrowly demarcated, constitutes its own province of 605 km 2.
Seoul is the country’s financial, technological, commercial and cultural center. All of the country’s 16 chaebol, corporate groups, have their headquarters there. The most important industrial industries manufacture means of transport and electronic products. Furthermore, there are a large number of universities and professional colleges, as well as an extensive graphic industry and publishing business.
The subway’s first section was opened in 1974 and the network now includes about ten lines with more than 8 million passengers daily. The country’s largest international airport has been located in Incheon since 2001, just over 50 km west of Seoul city center.
When South Korea’s economic growth began more than fifty years ago, rapid industrialization and uncontrolled urban growth in Seoul also began. To cushion it, a city plan was eventually established with, among other things, a wide green zone around the city. Growth then continued outside the green zone, in the surrounding province of Gyeonggi, and Seoul is now surrounded by a number of major satellite cities. One of them is Gwacheon City, near the Seoul city border in the south, planned to be the country’s administrative capital and by metro connected to the center of Seoul. In 2009, over half of the ministries had been moved there. However, the offices of the President, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister, as well as most of the heavy ministries, remain inside Seoul, as do the foreign embassies and the headquarters of political organizations and the media.
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Two years after the founding of the Yi Dynasty in 1392, the capital was moved from Kaesong to S. (originally called Hanyang), which was provided with a ring wall. A higher educational institution, Songyun’gwan, was founded in 1398. Large parts of the S. were destroyed by the Japanese in 1592-1600. During the Japanese occupation of 1910–45, S. was the capital of General Chosen under the name Keijo. S. has been the capital of South Korea since 1948. Here the 1988 Summer Olympics were held.