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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Korean War Montage 2.png

The Korean War was a military conflict between the Republic of Korea, supported by the United Nations, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea which was supported by People's Republic of China (PRC), and with air support from the Soviet Union. The war began on 25 June 1950 and an armistice was signed on 27 July 1953. The war was a result of the political division of Korea by agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War. The Korean peninsula had been ruled by Japan from 1910 until the end of World War II. The failure to hold free elections throughout the Korean Peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides, and the North established a Communist government. During the war, both North and South Korea were sponsored by external powers, thus facilitating the war's metamorphosis from a civil war to a proxy war between powers involved in the larger Cold War. The initial mobile campaign transitioned to trench warfare, lasting from July 1951 until the 1953 border stalemate and armistice though minor outbreaks of fighting continue to the present day.

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Kim Jeong-ho's magnum opus, Daedong Yeojido.
Credit: Kim Jeong-ho

Kim Jeong-ho (pen name Gosanja; ‘the guy of old mountain’ 1804-1866?) was a Korean geographer and cartographer. He was born in Hwanghaedo. It is believed that he walked the entire length and breadth of the Korean peninsula, through mountain and valley, in order to research and compile his magnum opus, the DaedongYeojido, (대동여지도, 大東輿地圖) a map of Korea that was published in 1861, from which was subsequently made a single-sheet version, the DaedongYeojiJeondo (대동여지전도 大東與地全圖).

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Kim Ki-young (October 1, 1922 – February 5, 1998) was a South Korean film director, known for his intensely psychosexual and melodramatic horror films, often focusing on the psychology of their female characters. Kim was born in Seoul during the Japanese occupation, raised in Pyongyang and spent time in Japan, where he became interested in theater and cinema. In Korea after the end of World War II, he studied dentistry while becoming involved in the theater. During the Korean War, he made propaganda films for the United States Information Service. In 1955, he used discarded American equipment to produce his first two films. With the success of these two films Kim formed his own production company and produced popular melodramas for the rest of the decade. Kim Ki-young's first expression of his mature style was in his The Housemaid (1960), which featured a powerful femme fatale character. It is widely considered to be one of the best Korean films of all time. After a "Golden Age" during the 1960s, the 1970s were a low-point in the history of Korean cinema because of governmental censorship and a decrease in audience attendance. Nevertheless, working independently, Kim produced some of his most eccentric cinematic creations in this era. Films such as Insect Woman (1972) and Iodo (1977) were successful at the time and highly influential on the younger generations of South Korean filmmakers both at their time of release, and with their rediscovery years later. By the 1980s, Kim's popularity had gone into decline, and his output decreased in the second half of the decade. Neglected by the mainstream during much of the 1990s, Kim became a cult figure in South Korean film Internet forums in the early 1990s. Widespread international interest in his work was stimulated by a career retrospective at the 1997 Pusan International Film Festival. Kim's films, previously little-known or totally unknown outside South Korea, were shown and gained enthusiastic new audiences in Japan, the United States, Germany, France and elsewhere. He was preparing a come-back film when he and his wife were killed in a house fire in 1998. The Berlin International Film Festival gave Kim a posthumous retrospective in 1998, and the French Cinémathèque screened 18 of Kim's films, some newly rediscovered and restored, in 2006. Through the efforts of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), previously lost films by Kim Ki-young continue to be rediscovered and restored. Many current prominent South Korean filmmakers, including directors Im Sang-soo, Kim Ki-duk, Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook, claim Kim Ki-young as an influence on their careers.

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Announcement of the Sōshi-kaimei policy issued by the Taikyu court, written bilingually in Japanese and Korean, in a special parallel style in which hanja/kanji were printed only once and were "shared" by the hangul and kana texts

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