Facts About South Korea
Located on a peninsula that juts south and slightly eastward from the Asian continent, the Korean land mass stretches into the Pacific Ocean between the Sea of Japan (East Sea) and the Yellow Sea.
South Korea lies in the temperate zone and experiences four distinct seasons. Spring, which begins in late March or early April, has average temperatures of about 50°F - 55°F/10°C - 12°C, and brings considerable rainfall. Hot and rainy summers make the vegetation lush. Monsoon season begins at the end of June and lasts until August, during which time temperatures in South Korea range from 68°F - 86°F/20°C - 30°C. Autumn is perhaps the most pleasant season; cool, dry air and a spectacular showing of foliage from September to November counter the languid humidity of the monsoon season. Winters are cold and dry, and last from December to February.
In spite of a constitution supporting a democratic system of government, Korea has been plagued with dictatorships since the end of World War II.
Although Buddhism and Shamanism still have a number of adherents, Christianity is the dominant religion of South Korea. About 20 percent of the population belongs to various sects of Buddhism, while 35 percent are Christian. This makes South Korea second only to the Philippines in the number of Christians per country in Asia. South Korean Christians are fundamentalist in belief and evangelical in practice, so don't be surprised to have your spiritual beliefs questioned on the subway. A small percentage of the population also belongs to Ch'ondogyo, a native religion that grew as a reaction to Western influences. Although Confucianism is not practiced widely, it is the foundation of much of South Korean thought.
The South Korean form of currency is the won, its value in comparison to US and Canadian dollars changes on a daily basis.
Occasional political riots can become quite violent and have been known to be terminated by the release of tear gas. Students riot over many things - corrupt government, tuition hikes, and the American military presence. These demonstrations are held in front of universities, near U.S. Army installations, in front of city hall, and at Seoul station. Hannam Village, Army family housing, has also been the site of several riots. If you avoid these areas you should be safe.