TV scenes of thousands of red-wearing fans going crazy over their national team during the 2002 FIFA World Cup is an image which has helped convince a global audience that South Korea is in fact, a fun place to go, a place withdazzling cities,friendly peopleandbeautiful,mystical countryside.
Until relatively recently, Korea was an insular place, existing underdynastic rulefor centuries. However, the 35-year Japanese occupation from 1910, the split of the peninsula after WWII and the subsequent Korean War shattered all that. Difficult times have however made the Koreans a resilient lot, succeeding economically whilst still holding onto theirunique traditionsandfascinating culture.
Korea is littered withfortresses,templesandpalaces, many of themUNESCO World Heritage sites. In addition, the peninsula it shares with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea's official name) is one of the mostmountainous regionsin the world, and Korea also has a significantbeach-dotted coastline.
The capitalSeoulwinds aroundtheHan River, punctuated byfuturistic skyscrapersin one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The city is an increasingly useful Asia-Pacificstopoverpoint, or a hub for a three-centre Korea-China-Japan cultural trip.