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(580) Secret emissary from North
In the early hours of the morning on May 16 1961 to be precise, at 5:30 a.m. troops under the command of Major General Park Chung-hee entered Seoul. In the following hours they took over control over Army Headquarters, Central Government off..

(579) 'Hermit nation'
The ``Hermit Kingdom this is how Korea was widely known during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is now more frequently referred to as the ``Land of the Morning Calm. But, how did the former label arise? Why did Korea come to be known as the..

(578) Estate
If you talk to the average Korean nowadays about his or her family background, you can be almost certain that your interlocutor will tell you that he or she comes from some aristocratic ``yangban family through a direct line of descent. Indeed,..

(577) Post-unification nationalism
North Korea is a deeply nationalistic regime, and its nationalism has deep historical roots. To start with, East Asian Communists of the 1920s and 1930s were quite nationalist. Then, from the 1950s onwards, the North Korean leadership encouraged na..

Confucianism in Korea
Pre-modern Korea has frequently been described as a Confucian country. Indeed, Confucianism played a major role in the life of Korea in former times. Nonetheless, one has to keep in mind the fact that Confucianism is very different from the gre..

(575) First steamers
In the summer of 1845, the authorities in southern coastal areas of Korea reported a sighting of some unusual ships. A local magistrate in Jeolla Province described it in some detail: The smoke billowed up into the air from a tall chimney, and tw..

(574) Gwacheon complex
If for some reason you have to visit several government ministries, including the Ministry of Employment and Labor, you should be ready for a long subway ride. Indeed, while most Korean government agencies are clustered in downtown Seoul, in the Gw..

(573) Bukchon and Namchon
In recent years, the Cheonggye stream has become one of Seouls major landmarks. This long, artificial valley in the middle of the city attracts much attention and has been the object of much criticism.

(572) First Westerners in Korea
Who were the first Westerners to visit Korea? We will probably learn their names, but there is little doubt that over the last two millennia, a number people from the Far West have made it to this Far Eastern peninsula. Some of them may have been s..

(571) Koreans on Sakhalin
In 1945, the Soviet Union took over the southern half of the large island of Sakhalin, hitherto a possession of Imperial Japan. Some 310,000 people lived in the south at the time.

(570) Ban on Japanese pop culture
On Jan. 31, 1994, Gong Ro-myung, the then-South Korean ambassador to Japan, made a statement which became a sensation. After a meeting of Korean ambassadors he suggested lifting the decades-old ban on the importation of Japanese popular culture. Th..

(569) Korean geisha
Pretty much everybody who has lived in Korea for a length of time would have heard about Korean gisaeng, often described as Korean geisha. Such a description is certain to irritate many Koreans who would remind you that if anything, the singing..

(568) Public transport in Seoul
In 1927, Seoul was a city of 315,000 inhabitants. According to City Hall statistics, public transport available to Seoulites included 130 passenger cars (about half of which were owned by the colonial administration and dozens of them served as tax..

(567) Ex-Soviet Koreans
Currently, some 10,000-15,000 ethnic Koreans from the former Soviet Union are living in South Korea. Most of them are humble manual workers, making a living by working on assembly lines (they usually come from the less successful parts of the forme..

(566) Confucian morality sapped Korean commerce
Like it or not, it is natural for humans to trade. People began to swap quality obsidian for cowry shells a few tens of thousands of years ago and have not stopped trading ever since. Even when the authorities of a particular country decided that t..

(565) Demographic changes
How many people live in Korea today? The question is not particularly difficult in our era of ever-present statistics. In 2010 the population of South Korea reached 50 million.

(564) Modern museum
On Nov. 2, 1909, Koreas newspapers (there were plenty of dailies published in Korea at the time) told of a major event which had taken place one day earlier: an Imperial Dynasty Museum was opened to the public.

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