South Korea Economy and Culture

By | November 5, 2021


The importance and weight of the tertiary sector are evidenced by the contribution it makes to the formation of GDP, with a figure that exceeds 58.3%, and by the size of the workforce employed, equal to more than 69% of the total (data 2018). As the structure of the industrial sector implies, the substantial high-tech productions fuel a large part of trade with foreign countries: electronic products and motor vehicles constitute the most consistent element of exports, to which industrial products of various kinds must be added (fabrics and articles of clothing, footwear, means of transport, etc.), as well as large quantities of fish. On the import front, the country mainly purchases high-tech machinery and equipment (telecommunications, airplanes, ships, etc.) oil and petroleum products, mining and raw materials. The exchange essentially takes place with China, Japan and the United States; to these interlocutors were then added, from the end of the twentieth century, some countries of Southeast Asia, Russia, Saudi Arabia and some EU countries. Road and rail communication routes and port facilities were almost entirely rebuilt at the end of the Korean War. Since then, the constant expansion of these infrastructures ensured by the government authorities has provided the basic conditions for the development of the entire economy. Of the railways, whose overall development is over 4261 km (of which more than half electrified), the two main lines are the Seoul-Pusan, from which various sections branch off to the centers of the east coast, and the Seoul-Mokp ‘ or; a more important role, however, is played by the road arteries (over 110,000 km, of which over two thirds are asphalted), which absorb more than half of the total freight movement. The strong industrialization and the intensification of international exchanges have led to a significant strengthening of port activities, the top of communications with foreign countries; Inch’ŏn, a seaport of the capital, Pusan ​​and Masan, a short distance from Japan, and Pukp’yŏng stand out. No less significant was the increase in air communications; there are 105 airports in the country (2007) and of these the main ones are those of the capital and Pusan. The currency contribution of tourism is also constantly growing: the most popular destinations, in addition to Seoul and the mountains, are the historical sites and the island of Cheju: in 2017, South Korea was visited by more than 13 million foreigners. The socio-economic evolution of South Korea cannot be fully understood if it is not also linked to the decisive development of the financial and banking sector. In fact, starting from the 1997 crisis, the State felt the need to decisively adapt the financial structures to support the economy. A reform of the banking sector was thus carried out (with mergers and acquisitions which ensured greater competitiveness) and a more general deregulation which favored, on the one hand, the entry of foreign capital and, on the other, greater autonomy of the market.


According to thereligionfaqs, South Korea’s artistic and cultural life clearly shows the same dynamism that characterizes the country in other areas. If the common background had marked the traditions of the two Koreas and had linked the two countries in the development of the arts, music, literature, theater, the second half of the twentieth century, after the split, saw two extremely different, if not antithetical, paths. To the closure and obscurantism of the Republic of the North, the clear willingness and sensitivity to exchange and comparison of South Korea have done and do. Above all disciplines such as cinema or architecture show the signs of foreign influences that have penetrated the country, US, Japanese or Malaysian, without foreclosure. Globally recognized artists and architects, composers and singers with millions of copies invite us to consider South Korea as one of the most vibrant cultural realities, not only in a continental but global perspective. This certainly does not mean that the South Korean people have given up their past and the legacy of a millenary history. The costumes come to life in collective parties like the Seollal, one of the most heartfelt, which lasts three days and marks the beginning of the lunar New Year (in February), or as the birth of Buddha (eighth day of the fourth lunar month), or, again, Memorial Day (6 June) in memory of the fallen, who still push most of the people to gather and celebrate the anniversaries according to traditional rites. With the same intentions of preserving the national cultural heritage, cultural policies and the relevant institutions have carefully tried to blend past and present, tradition and innovation. In many cities, and in the capital first of all, ancient and modern also coexist urbanistically: in Seuol, a cosmopolitan city, there are the styles of the Chongdong Theater, the Bongeunsa Buddhist temple, the Seoul Museum of Art, fortresses dating back to ancient dynasties, the stadiums that hosted the Olympics in 1988 and the World Cup in 2002, in a continuum of stimuli and visions of rare beauty. The National Institute for Korean Traditional Performing Arts (Ncktpa) is also a masterful example of the union between past, present and future, also in Seuol, which since the 7th century has been the bearer of the tradition of Royal Musical Institutes and, in giving space today to the best performer national, continues to operate in order to preserve and spread the rich musical culture of the country, especially that linked to the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). There are numerous Korean sites that UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site: the Haeinsa Changgyong P’ango temple (1995); the shrine of Chongmyo (1995); the Sokkuram cave (1995); the monumental complex of Ch’angdokkung (1997); the Hwasong Fortress (1997); the dolmen sites of Koch’ang, Hwasun, and Kanghwa (2000); the historic areas of Kyŏngju (2000); the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (2009); the historic villages of Hahoe and Yangdong (2010); Namhansanseong (2014); the historical areas of Baekje (2015); the seven Sansa, that is, the Buddhist mountain monasteries of Korea (2018); the nine Seowon, Korean Neo-Confucian academies (2019).

South Korea Culture