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World > Asia > Korea, South > People (Notes)

Korea, South - People (Notes)


PEOPLE

Population
Korea?s population is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogenous in the world. Except for a small Chinese community (about 20,000), virtually all Koreans share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. With 48.85 million people, South Korea has one of the world?s highest population densities. Major population centers are located in the northwest, southeast, and in the plains south of the Seoul-Incheon area.

Korea has experienced one of the largest rates of emigration, with ethnic Koreans residing primarily in China (1.9 million), the United States (1.52 million), Japan (681,000), and the countries of the former Soviet Union (450,000).

Language
The Korean language is related to Japanese and Mongolian. Although it differs grammatically from Chinese and does not use tones, a large number of Chinese cognates exist in Korean. Chinese ideograms are believed to have been brought into Korea sometime before the second century BC. The learned class spoke Korean, but read and wrote Chinese. A phonetic writing system ('hangul') was invented in the 15th century by King Sejong to provide a writing system for commoners who could not read classical Chinese. Modern Korean uses hangul almost exclusively with Chinese characters in limited use for word clarification. Approximately 1,300 Chinese characters are used in modern Korean. English is taught as a second language in most primary and secondary schools. Chinese and Japanese are widely taught at secondary schools.

Religion
Half of the population actively practices religion. Among this group, Christianity (49%) and Buddhism (47%) comprise Korea?s two dominant religions. Though only 3% identified themselves as Confucianists, Korean society remains highly imbued with Confucian values and beliefs. The remaining 1% of the population practice Shamanism (traditional spirit worship) and Chondogyo ('Heavenly Way'), a traditional religion.


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Korean Won Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Korean Won Exchange Rates


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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