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South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK) is an East Asian state on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was united until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China (People's Republic of China) and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital Seoul, the country's largest city.Korea's history has been turbulent throughout with the last emperor of Korea dating back to the age of the Korean Empire. Since the establishment of the modern republic in 1948, South Korea struggled with the aftermath of Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and decades of authoritarian governments, undergoing five major constitutional changes.
Korean pop culture has become popular in Asia and beyond, earning the name Hallyu or "Korean Wave." In Japan, with Korean singers like BoA, and television dramas like Daejanggeum and Winter Sonata have found success. Recent Korean films such as Oldboy and Oasis have also received international acclaim.
The contemporary culture of South Korea is heavily dominated by technology, including feature-rich cell phones and pervasive online gaming. South Korea today has the highest penetration of high-speed internet access to households in the world. Digital multimedia broadcasting now allows South Koreans to watch television on their cell phones.
However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine, ancestor worship, and some Confucianism ideals. Foods like Bulgogi and Kimchi that have been developed since the Goguryeo and Chosun Dynasty still remain in the Korean diet.
Confucianist ideals, especially from the Chosun Dynasty remain. Respecting elders, worshiping ancestors, and ethical manners are still present in Korean society.
Taekwondo, a popular martial art, originated in Korea. Taekwondo roughly translates to the way of punching and kicking, although it is sometimes translated as the way of the hands and feet. It became standard military training in South Korea, and in 1961 the rules were standardized and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Taekwondo in the military is an integral part in the Korean land forces. Taekwondo is the only martial arts that is currently within the Olympics. Other Korean martial arts include subak and taekkyeon.
South Korea's national football team, the "Taeguk Warriors," have one of the best football teams in Asia.