Portal:Korea

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Korea, called Hanguk (Korean: 한국; Hanja: 韓國) in South Korea and Chosŏn (Korean: 조선; Hanja: 朝鮮) in North Korea, is a civilization and geographical area situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia, bordering China to the northwest and Russia to the northeast, with Japan situated to the southeast across the Korea Strait. It is often called the "Land of the Morning Calm", a term first used during the Joseon dynasty.

One of the oldest civilizations in the world, Korea's history began with the founding of Gojoseon, dating back to approximately 2,333 B.C. After the Three Kingdoms period, Korea enjoyed long periods of peace during which its culture, science and technology flourished. Despite this relative tranquility, Korea was often a target for invasion and had to defend itself in many wars. As a result, starting in the 17th century, Korea's leaders cut off almost all interaction with the outside world. Because of this, Korea was annexed in 1910 and became divided after the Korean War into two political entities, North Korea and South Korea.

North Korea declares itself to be a self-reliant socialist state that is often described by international outlets as Stalinist and isolationist. It is currently ruled by the Kim dynasty, under which the country has become the world's most militarized society with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. North Korea has often emerged as a subject of controversy due to alleged human rights abuses and its unsanctioned nuclear weapons program, the latter of which makes it a threat to regional security.

South Korea on the other hand is a capitalist liberal democracy, and by 1995, became the world's 11th largest economy. It is also currently the world's fifth largest exporter and seventh largest importer, all feats achieved during South Korea's miraculous economic growth after the Korean War. South Korea also maintains a large military due to strained relations with the North, with 650,000 active troops and 3.2 million reserve troops. Due to both its economic and military prowess, South Korea is a regional power, also enjoying membership in the United Nations, G-20 major economies and the OECD.

Korea is populated by a relatively homogeneous ethnic group, the Koreans, who speak Korean, a distinct language not known to be related to any other language, and which uses a unique script, known as Hangul in South Korea, and as Chosongul in North Korea.

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Asia League Ice Hockey is an association which operates a professional ice hockey league based in East Asia, with seven teams from Japan, China, and South Korea. The league is headquartered in Japan. At the end of the playoffs every year the winner is awarded The Championship Trophy. The league was formed in 2003 due to declining popularity in the Japan Ice Hockey League and the folding of the Korea Ice Hockey League. It was formed with the goal of promoting hockey and developing players' skills. The league initially comprised five teams in two countries. It expanded to highs of four countries (2004–05 season) and nine teams (2005–06 season) although it is currently made up of seven teams from three countries. The league draws most of its players from the home countries of its teams. However, to help build skill and raise the level of competitiveness the league allows each team a certain number of foreign imports on their roster.

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Taepyeongmu
Credit: Ddol-mang

Taepyeongmu (태평무), a Korean dance wishing a great peace for Korea. Its origin is unknown but the late Han Seungjun (한성준 韓成俊 1875-1941), a known dancer and drummer, rearranged it in the early 20th century. It is assumed to have been a court dance occasionally performed by kings during the Joseon dynasty of Korea. Therefore, the costumes used for dancers are almost similar to a king and queen's gwanbok (관복, official clothing). Taepyeongmu is designated as one of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of South Korea.

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Dae Soen Sa Nim shortly before his death (photo by Joan Halifax)

Seung Sahn (August 1, 1927—November 30, 2004) was a Korean Jogye Seon master and founder of the international Kwan Um School of Zen—the largest Zen institution present in the Western world. He was the seventy-eighth teacher in his lineage. As one of the early Korean Zen masters to settle in the United States, he opened many temples and practice groups across the globe. He was known for his charismatic style and direct presentation of Zen, which was well tailored for the Western audience. Known by students for his many correspondences with them through letters, his utilization of Dharma combat, and expressions such as "only don't know" or "only go straight" in teachings, he was conferred the honorific title of Dae Soen Sa Nim in June 2004 by the Jogye order for a lifetime of achievements. Considered the highest honor to have bestowed upon one in the order, the title translates to mean Great honored Zen master. He died in November that year at Hwa Gae Sah in Seoul, South Korea, at age 77.

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