List of Korean inventions and discoveries

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This is a list of Korean inventions and discoveries.

A page from the Hunmin Jeong-eum Eonhae. The Hangul-only column, fourth from left, (나랏말ᄊᆞ미), has pitch-accent diacritics to the left of the syllable blocks.

Premodern inventions[edit]

Encyclopedia in Hangul
  • Pluviometer: Cheugugi was first standardized pluviometer, invented during the reign of King Sejong the Great in Joseon Dynasty of Korea.[14][15][16] It was used throughout the country for official purposes.
  • Featural alphabet: Hangul is a featural alphabet, wherein the shapes of the letters are not arbitrary, but encode phonological features of the phonemes they represent.[17]
  • Armored warship: Turtle ships were large armored warships built during the Joseon dynasty from the early 15th century.[18]
  • Time bomb: The first time bomb called Pigyok Chinchollae (비격진천뢰;飛擊震天雷) was developed during the Imjin War (1592-1598) by a technician, Yi Chang-son (이장손;李長孫).[19][20] It was used to project into enemy camps and formations by a catapult.
  • Naval Artillery: The world's first naval guns were used by the Koreans to counter Japanese piracy during the Goryeo Dynasty in the 1370s.[21]
  • Soft bullet-proof vest: Myeonje Baegab is a soft bullet-proof vest invented by Kim Gi-du and Gang Yun in the late 1860s in the Joseon Dynasty.[22]

Modern science and technology[edit]



  • Contactless smart transport card: Seoul has the world's longest experience of using contactless transport cards.[39] The Korean system integrator Intec and Seoul Bus Union first launched a test of their system in a trial from October to December 1995.[40] The first contactless e-Ticketing systems went live in 1996 in Seoul and 1997 in Hongkong.[41]
  • Coloring Ring back tone: A South Korean wireless services provider, invented this type of ringback tones for cellphone networks.[42] CRBT (Coloring Ring back tones) are pieces of music and audio clips that callers hear instead of normal ringing tone when they dial a specific number. The original service first premiered by South Korean operator SK Telecom in April 2002.[42][43][44]
  • WiBro: An abbreviation of wireless broadband, refers to the Mobile WiMAX system developed and deployed in Korea.[45]
  • Digital Multimedia Broadcasting: The technology was developed in South Korea.[46]
  • Digital Mobile TV: By developing Digital Multimedia Broadcasting, Korea became the first nation in the world to introduce moble television.[47]
  • Virtual Store: A Korean supermarket chain, Home Plus has developed a "virtual" store by Homeplus CEO Lee Seung-han, who originally had the idea in 2008. It allows consumers to do their shopping with smartphones from the subway station with the Homeplus App and get the items delivered to their doorsteps. It opened at Seolleung subway station in Seoul, Korea.[48]
  • LTE service: The world's first commercial LTE device, developed by Samsung, was provided for the world's first LTE service in Stockholm.[49] The South Korean company is providing the LTE infrastructure on the MetroPCS, North America’s first operator offering 4G LTE services.[34]

Natural Science[edit]

Simulation result for formation of inversion channel (electron density) and attainment of threshold voltage (IV) in a nanowire MOSFET
Structural diagram of gemifloxacin
  • Gemifloxacin is a quinolone antibiotic for the treatment of acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic bronchitis and mild-to-moderate pneumonia developed by LG Life Sciences in 2003.
  • Supersolid is a frictionless solid and the term was named by Eunseong Kim and Moses Chan.
  • Graphene: In 2005 the Philip Kim, Korean condensed matter physicist, group together with the Andre Geim group demonstrated that quasiparticles in graphene were massless Dirac fermions. These discoveries led to an explosion of interest in graphene. In his Nobel Prize lecture, Andre Geim acknowledged the contribution of Philip Kim, saying, "I owe Philip a great deal for this, and many people heard me saying – before and after the Nobel Prize – that I would be honoured to share it with him." Byung Hee Hong and his team in South Korea pioneered the synthesis of large-scale graphene films using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) on thin nickel layers, which triggered chemical researches toward the practical applications of graphene.[56][57]
  • Diversity-oriented fluorescence library approach: Young-Tae Chang pioneered the approach (DOFLA) using fluorescent dye library.[58]
  • Nano 3D printing: A team of Korean researchers have demonstrated for the first time 3D printed nanostructures made entirely of graphene applying a new 3D printing technique.[59]
  • Smart prosthetic skin: A team of Korean and American scientists has developed a smart prosthetic skin that can sense pressure, heat and moisture.[60] South Korean researchers at the Seoul National University are at the very frontline of this line of research.[61]

Social sciences[edit]

  • Blue Ocean Strategy denote all the industries not in existence today—the unknown market space, untainted by competition. The term was coined by W. Chan Kim.



  • Electronic café: An archaic form of cybercafé called Electronic Café opened in front of Hongik University in March 1988 by Ahn Sang-Su and Keum Nuri in Seoul, South Korea. It had two 16bit computers connected to Online service networks through telephone lines. Online service users’ offline meetings were held in the Electronic Café, which served as a place that connected online and offline activities.[62]
  • LAN gaming center: PC Bang, otherwise called local area network-based gaming center, is a place where people can get access to high-speed Internet.[63] PC bangs rose to popularity following the release of the PC game StarCraft in 1998.[64] In 1997, there were only around 100 PC bangs in South Korea but by 2002 this number has increased rapidly to around 25,000.[65]
  • Question-and-answer site: Naver the number-one search portal in South Korea, pioneered a community-driven question-and-answer site called Knowledge Search in 2002.[66] The program allows users to ask about any questions, such as requests for recipes for kimchi or how to subscribe to international magazines through the internet.[67] Later in 2005, Yahoo! Answers launched a question-and-answer service, which was modeled from the Korean Naver's Knowledge Search.[68]


Main article: Culture of Korea
  • Yut is a traditional board game played in Korea, especially during Korean New Year. The game is also called cheok-sa or sa-hee. The suffix nori means "game".[citation needed]

Musical instruments[edit]

  • Janggu is the most widely used drum used in the traditional music of Korea. It is available in most kinds, and consists of an hourglass-shaped body with two heads made from animal skin. The two heads produce sounds of different pitch and timbre, which when played together are believed to represent the harmony of man and woman.[citation needed]
  • Gayageum is a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument, with 12 strings, although more recently variants have been constructed with 21 or other numbers of strings. It is probably the best known traditional Korean musical instrument.

Martial arts[edit]

Main article: Korean martial arts
  • Taekgyeon is believed that it originated with warriors from the Silla Dynasty (57 BCE–668 CE) who learned subak from the neighboring Goguryeo armies when they appealed for their help against invading Japanese pirates. Practicing subak became part of the training for Silla's hwarang, and this contributed to the spread of subak on the Korean peninsula. But again, it is not known exactly which techniques the hwarang practiced. Buddhist monks, who added more spiritual aspects to the art, often instructed the hwarang. Their greatest contribution to the development of Korean martial arts is probably adding a spiritual dimension to the training practices, something that Korean martial arts lacked before. Empty-handed combat appears to have played a small role; most of the emphasis was on armed combat. It has only been recently that empty-handed combat has gained more popularity than armed combat.[citation needed]
  • Ssireum is a form of folk wrestling native to Korea. In the modern form each contestant wears a belt that wraps around the waist and the thigh. The competition employs a series of techniques, which inflict little harm or injury to the opponent: opponents lock on to each other's belt, and one achieves victory by bringing any part of the opponent's body above the knee to the ground.[69]
  • Gukgung Korean archery, making use of a traditional composite horn bow.[citation needed]


  • Chisanbop: An abacus-like finger counting method used to perform basic mathematical operations. It was brought to the West in the 1970s.[70]
  • Coffee Mix: A stick-shaped packet filled with coffee powder, powdered cream and sugar. It was developed by Dongsuh Food Corp in the 1970s.[71]
  • Thundersticks are inflated plastic tubes that make a loud clapping noise when struck together. They are usually used at sporting events but have also been used at political rallies in Korea.

See also[edit]


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