South Korea is famous for its ancient temples, delicious foods and bustling capital of Seoul. From the epic Gyeongbokgung Palace to vibrant and eclectic market streets of Seoul, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Whether you plan to hit the countryside and explore marvels such as the Hanok villages or city dwell in Seoul, you’ll find that each quirk of South Korea is more interesting than the last. Here are seven amazing facts about South Korea to make your stay more interesting.
7 Amazing Facts About South Korea
1. It Boasts One of the World’s Largest Economies
When it comes to the global economy, South Korea is a big player, especially for such a small country. As of 2019, it ranked as the third-largest economy in Asia trailing behind China and Japan. Currently, South Korea ranks #12 in the world for GDP and is the world’s 7th largest exporter. That’s really saying something for a nation roughly the size of England.
2. It Has the Busiest Air Route on Earth
Turns out the most crowded air route is found in South Korea on the 280 mile hop between Seoul to Jeju International. Each year more than 26 million passengers opt for Jeju airport creating a whopping 100+ departures daily and more than 850 flights a week. It’s estimated that approximately 1,285,000 monthly passengers utilized this route pre-pandemic. Why? Jeju is coined as the Hawaii of South Korea famous for its volcanic landscapes, scenic beaches and underground caves.
3. It is Home to Quite a Few UNESCO Sites
South Korea has an impressive roster when it comes to UNESCO recognised sites. Among the national treasures are everything from ancient royal palaces, shrines, tombs and more. Most stunning are the perfectly preserved Hanok villages. These ancient settlements scattered across the hills are peppered with traditional Korean houses and history that spans millennia.
4. More Than 50% of South Korea is Forest
It’s no secret that South Korea is home to plethora of natural wonders; from Seoraksan Mountain to Dadohaehaesang National Park to Jeju Island there’s certainly no shortage of natural beauty to take in. Part of that is due to the fact that over half of the nation is covered in forest – 64% to be exact. This makes it a perfect destination for those who love the big city and those who prefer the Great Outdoors.
5. It’s a Mecca for Breakdancers
Sure, we all know Gangham style but breakdancing in South Korea goes way beyond the realms of PSY. Brought over by American soldiers in the 90’s, breakdancing has since become a widespread phenomenon across the nation. It’s so important in fact, that The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism promotes breakdancing to as a prominent part of the nation’s culture. There are even a number of government-sponsored breakdancing competitions each year.
6. It Has a Booming Film Industry
In recent years South Korea has been topping the charts with its films all around the globe. Many are familiar Okja, which starred Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal and received a standing ovation at the Cannes. More popular and impressive, however, is Parasite. The 2019 dark comedy plays on greed and class discrimination between a wealthy and impoverished family. The thriller earned four Oscars making history in the world of foreign films.
7. There’s an Erotic Theme Park
Head to Jeju and you’ll find a theme park all about sex. Bizarrely, the park features everything from phallus statues to “interactive exibits.” Aptly coined Love Land, the park was created in 2004 by a team of 20 artists and has been a highlight of the island ever since.