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The History And Culture Of Korea

3110 words - 13 pages

Korea started its inhabitance around 700,000 years ago. From its roots, Korean culture took its form from contributing political decisions, a booming economy, and the military conflicts that not only affected Korea, but also the rest of the world. Even with all the external influences that South Korea has fought off, they still stand true to their Confucian ideals.
The Korean language has existed for more than 2,000 years. For hundreds of years, three different forms of Korean used slightly modified Chinese characters for writing. The Korean alphabet did not come about until the mid-15th century, when King Sejong the Great introduced the Hangul phonetic system. This alphabet, known as “The correct sounds for the instruction of the people,” initially intended to be a system common people could use to learn to read and write. The alphabet created as a way to instill cultural unity across the populace. The alphabet, which originally had only twenty-eight letters, was to allow anyone to learn correct pronunciation with just a few hours of study. Hangul, now spelled Hangeul, intended only for most informal writing and literature. A mix of Hangeul and Chinese characters, known as Hanja, is used in academic papers and official documents. The modern Korean alphabet contains fourteen basic consonants and ten basic vowels. There are six Korean dialects spoken in South Korea. The dialects are generally contained with specific provisional boundaries, and not all of them are easily understandable with others.
The impact of Confucian ideals on South Korean society extends to etiquette. According to these ideals, the manner in which a person greets one another depends on the person’s age and social standing in relation to the greeter. Bowing is the traditional greeting and is often followed by a handshake, although it is less common for women to shake hands. Between friends and relatives, a simple nod instead of a bow is acceptable. Children, however, will bow when greeting adults. An informal but polite greeting used between peers or spoken from by a superior to a subordinate is “Annyong haseyo?” Meaning, “Are you at peace?” When being introduced to Koreans, it is important to remember that names are formatted differently than in the United States. Koreans give their family or last name first. This is usually a one-syllable name; Kim, Lee, and Park are the three most common family names in South Korea. This is followed by a given or first name that usually has two syllables. Family names are important, and Korean women keep their maiden name after marrying. Bowing is a sign of respect; therefore, the junior person traditionally initiates the bow. When bowing, the palms are held flat on the sides of the legs. The senior person responds by bowing with the hands in a similar position. Maintaining good posture makes a good impression, particularly when attending meetings and other events. Good posture includes avoiding slouching by...

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