The Miracle On Han River: South Korea

1494 words - 6 pages

South Korea, once a broken country filled with broken families, has transformed itself into a fine example of perseverance in a tough situation. South Korea and its neighbor to the north have developed past where they were before the Korean War, but in different ways. The two countries, while certainly dependent on each other, are vastly different. Their conflicting styles of government and their differing cultures speak for themselves in this case. South Korea has, over the years, changed dramatically from the crippled country of the Korean War into a blossoming beacon of Asian cultural and economic changes. The combination of its recent economic importance, its heavy cultural influence, and its constant danger of participating in a war makes South Korea one of the most influential countries in the world.

The end of World War II marked the formation of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern half of the Korean peninsula and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the northern half (“Korea, South”). Although these two countries were formed at the same time, they are now vastly different culturally and economically. The two countries do have some similarities and they are similarities that remind the world that Korea was once united. Hangeul, the accepted South and North Korean national language, is considered to be “one of the most scientific writing systems in the world.” The fact that the language is so easy to read and write is thought to be the reason behind South Korea’s high literacy rate (“Facts About Korea”). Other than their language and a few shared cultural practices, the citizens of North and South Korea have very little in common. South Korea is, ironically, more of a democracy than the DPRK ever was and the citizens experience more political and social freedoms than their counterparts in North Korea ever will under their current system of government.

South Korea operates under the constant threat of war with their neighboring counterpart and this has been the case since their separation in 1953 (“Korea, South”). Despite the stress of a possible nuclear war, South Korea has been able to maintain an influential place in both the Asian and World economies (Belanger). Perhaps because of the country’s flourishing economy, the world has turned its eyes toward South Korea’s entertainment industry. This proves what many have already concluded: South Korea is a growing influence on the world’s economy and culture. Often referred to as the “Korean Wave,” a recent phenomenon in South Korean popular culture is the interest from other Asian countries and even some Western countries (“Facts About Korea”). This interest has helped the economy and South Korea’s influence on the rest of the world grow, although the growth of the economy cannot be directly attributed to just its profound cultural popularity.

Over the last 50 years, South Korea has blossomed from a country with a lower GDP/capita than Bolivia into a country that...

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