Visa Korea

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                                                        HISTORY OF KOREA

The settlement of Korea began half a million years ago. The former Joseon, the first kingdom of Korea, was founded in 2333 BC The Korean peninsula and Chinese Manchuria were divided in the 1st century BC by the Baekje, Goguryeo and Silla kingdoms.
The reign period of these kingdoms, called the “Three Kingdoms of Korea” era, extends from the year 58 BC to 668 AD. In 660, Silla conquers Goguryeo. It defeats Baekje in 668. The peninsula was unified for the first time in 676. Korean culture, and especially Buddhist art, enjoyed unparalleled prosperity during the Great Silla period, which lasted between 676 and 935.
The state of Balhae developed at the same time as that of Silla. The state of Balhae extends beyond Goguryeo. The era of Silla and Balhae is called the era “North and South”. The reign of the great Silla ends in 935, that of Balhae ends in 926.
The name “Korea” comes from that of the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). It established the aristocratic regime. Buddhism becomes at that time the state religion.
The Joseon Dynasty, the last Korean dynasty, took place in 1392 and ended in 1910. This period saw the adoption of Confucianism as an official doctrine. Economic and political reforms followed. Korean culture, and especially literature, experienced a great development at that time.
In 1443, the invention of hangeul, the Korean alphabet, testifies to this cultural flourishing.
In 1394, Hanyang, later to become Seoul, was designated as the capital of Joseon. The monuments of this period, namely palaces and gates, are still visible in Seoul. The Joseon Dynasty ended in 1910, with the Japanese occupation.
On August 15, 1945, atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki put an end to Japanese colonization, which lasted 35 years. The Japanese withdrew and Korea was divided: Democratic Korea in the south and Communist North Korea.


The government of the Republic of Korea is proclaimed three years later, on August 15, 1948. In June 1950, North Korea attacks South Korea by surprise. The war lasted until the signing of the armistice in 1953.
South Korea enjoyed prosperity and stability during the post-war reconstruction period. Its capital Seoul hosted the 1988 Olympics. North Korea and South Korea joined the United Nations in 1991. North Korea’s leader received his counterpart from South Korea in Pyongyang in 2000.
This historic meeting has not tempered relations between the two states, separated by the demilitarized zone, the DMZ, for more than 50 years

General data on Korea

1/ Presentation of the country


  • Official name: Republic of Korea
  • Nature of the scheme: Parliamentary democracy (unicameral system)
  • Head of State: Mr MOON Jae-in
  • Prime Minister: Mr. LEE Nak-yeon


2/ Geographical data

Area: 99,618 km² (excluding demilitarized zone)

Capital: Seoul

Main cities: Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju.

Official language: Korean

Currency: won

National Day: October 3 (foundation of the Joseon Empire, 2333 BC)

3/ Demographic data

Population: 50.6M (2015, source World Bank) (of which 13.1% over 65)

Density: 519.4 hab / km² (2016, UN source)

Population growth: 0, 382% (2015, source World Bank)

Life expectancy: 82.15 (2015, source World Bank)

Literacy rate: 97.9% (2015)

Religions: without religion (57%), Buddhism (15.5%), Protestantism (19.7%), Catholicism (7.9%), Confucianism, Shamanism, Islam (National Bureau of Statistics, 2015)

Human Development Index (HDI): 0.898 (2014, UNDP source)

4/ Economic data

GDP (2016): USD 1411 billion (source IMF)

GDP per capita (2016): USD 27,539 (sourceFMI)

Growth rate (2016): 2.7% (2.6% in 2015)

Unemployment rate (as defined by the ILO) (2016): 3.7%

Inflation rate (2016): 0.97%

Trade balance (2016): USD 94 bn

Main customers in 2015 (source: Korea International Trade Association): China (US $ 137 billion, 25%), ASEAN (US $ 75 billion), US (US $ 70 billion), European Union (US $ 48 billion), Hong Kong ( 30 billion USD), Viet Nam (18 billion USD), Japan (26 billion USD).

Main suppliers in 2015 (source: Korea International Trade Association): China (US $ 90 bn, 17%), European Union ($ 57 bn), Japan ($ 46 bn), ASEAN ($ 45 bn), USA ($ 45 bn) ), Germany ($ 21 billion), Saudi Arabia ($ 20 billion).

Share of main sectors of activity in GDP (2015, source Bank of Korea):

  • agriculture: 2.4%
  • industry: 38.2%
  • services: 59%


1/Domestic policy

MOON Jae-in, candidat du parti démocrate (Minjoo), a été élu président de la République le 9 mai 2017, à la suite de la crise politique ayant abouti à la destitution de la Présidente PARK Geun-hye en mars 2017. Il dispose d’une majorité relative à l’Assemblée (40% des sièges). Son programme accorde la priorité à la réduction des inégalités socio-économiques (hausse des salaires et minima sociaux), et la création de 1,3 M emplois, dont 800.000 dans le secteur public, notamment pour les jeunes. Il envisage une révision de la Constitution, afin de limiter les pouvoirs du Chef de l’Etat, et des mesures pour moraliser la vie publique (collusions public-privé).

2/Economic situation

11th world economic power (GDP of 1411 billion dollars in 2016), 6th largest exporter and 9th world importer, South Korea is a major pole of innovation in Asia and a member country of the G20. It is one of the most open economies in the world (opening rate close to 90%).

Korean GDP growth was 2.8% in 2016 (versus 2.6% in 2015). Foreign trade contracted in 2016 with a drop in exports (483 billion dollars against 527 billion dollars in 2015) and imports (389 billion dollars against 437 billion dollars in 2015), or 94 billion dollars in surplus (90 billion dollars USD in 2015

3/ Foreign politic

South Korea intends to play a greater role on the international scene. She is one of the top 15 contributors to the United Nations. A member of the WTO, the G20, the Human Rights Council, and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in 2013-2014, she is also a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee since 2010.

The military alliance with the United States concluded in 1953 remains the pillar of Korean foreign policy. President MOON Jae-in met in Washington on June 30, 2017 with President TRUMP, who reaffirmed his commitment alongside South Korea. . 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in South Korea.

Relations with China are marked by strong economic ties, reinforced by the free trade agreement signed in June 2015. China is Korea’s largest trading partner and Korea is China’s largest supplier. The deployment of the US anti-missile system (THAAD) in South Korea, however, is considered by Beijing to be an attack on its strategic interests and an obstacle to finding a solution on the North Korean issue.

With Japan, the last bilateral summit between Heads of State and Government for 3 years took place on 2 November 2015. Economic, cultural and human exchanges are dense. Memory issues (Japanese colonization in Korea between 1910-1945) continue to weigh on political relations between Seoul and Tokyo.

China, Korea and Japan held their first trilateral summit in Seoul in November 2015, since 2012. The joint declaration provides for a regular summit and further cooperation on regional peace and security, nuclear safety, sustainable development, environment, energy and education. The foreign ministers of the three countries met on August 24, 2016 in Tokyo for an exchange of views on strengthening their cooperation and regional and global issues.

A dedicated office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, focusing on the human rights situation in North Korea, opened in Seoul in June 2015

4/ Inter-Korean relations

During his campaign, President MOON Jae-in pledged to seek a dual approach with North Korea: denuclearization and dialogue when conditions are met. South Korea has strongly condemned every missile strike in North Korea since May 2017 as well as the nuclear test of 3 September. The two Koreas held their first high-level talks in the demilitarized zone on January 9 in the past two years. Communication channels, including military, have been reactivated. North Korea has confirmed its participation in the Pyeongchang Olympic Games (February 9-25) with a delegation of about 500 people (athletes, technical team, supporters, artists, taekwondo group, officials). It has also decided $ 8 million in humanitarian aid for its northern neighbor.

Korea’s official development assistance (USD 1.9 billion) is diversifying geographically (to Africa). Korea is also increasingly involved in the PKOs and participates in the fight against piracy (EUNAVFOR ATALANTA)