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About Korea

I. Information on Korea (Time, Exchange rate, Transportation)

1. Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea Capital City : Seoul (10 million) / 48 million
National flag : Taegeukgi
National flower : Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon)
Currency : won
Language : Korean (Written form: Hangeul)
Location : Strategically located at the crossroads of Northeast Asia. Korea lies between Japan, the Russian Far East and China.
Territory : 223,170km2 (South Korea: 100,032km2)
Highest mountains : Baekdusan 2744m, Hallasan 1950m

Longest rivers : Amnokgang 790km, Nakdonggang 521.5km, Dumangang 521km, Hangang 481.7km
Major cities : Seoul (10.0 million), Busan (3.5 million), Incheon (2.6 million), Daegu (2.5 million), Daejeon (1.5 million), Gwangju (1.4 million), Ulsan (1.1 million)

Climate Climate: Temperate with four distinct seasons
  • Seoul belongs to the Temperate Zone featuring four distinctive seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. The average temperature in the early November in 2009 was approximately 11.7°C.
Population: 48.61 million (2008)
-Foreign residents: 1.1 million
-Economically active population: 24.3 million (2008)
Median Age: 36.7 years (2008)
Population increase rate: 0.31% (2008)
Life Expectancy: Males 76.1 years, females 82.7 years (2007)
Religion: A 2005 census showed that half of the population actively practices a religion. Among this group, 10,726,463 Buddhists, 8,616,438 Protestants and 5,146,147 Catholics comprise the three dominant religions.

Political SystemPolitical System: Constitutional democracy with president elected to a single 5-year term by direct popular vote. Division of power among the executive, legislature (unicameral National Assembly) and judiciary
President: Lee Myung-bak since 2008
Suffrage: Universal at 19 years of age
Elections - Presidential: every 5 years
      - National Assembly: every 4 years
      - Local Councils: every 4 years

Political parties: Grand National Party, United Democratic Party, Liberal Forward Party, Democratic Labor Party, Pro-Park Geun-hye Alliance, Renewal of Korea Party
Aid: In 2008, Korea provided a total of 797 million USD (preliminary figure) of ODA and plans to expand the volume up to 0.15% of its Gross National Income (GNI) by 2012, and 0.25% by 2015.
Peacekeeping: South Korea began participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations with the dispatch of a battalion of military engineers to Somalia in 1993. It has since joined peacekeeping efforts in India, Pakistan, Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, Georgia, East Timor, Lebanon and Afghanistan and sent the Zaytun forces to Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

ProductGross Domestic Product: $928.7 billion (2008)
Per Capita GNI: $19,231 (2008)
GDP Growth Rate: 2.2 percent (2008)
Foreign Exchange Reserves: $201.2 billion (2008)
Exports: $422.0 billion (2008)
Imports: $435.3 billion (2008)
Major Industrial Products: Semiconductors, automobiles, ships, consumer electronics, mobile telecommunication equipment, steel and chemicals
FTAs: Korea has signed free trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), ASEAN and the U.S. and India - 18 countries in all. Currently, negotiations with the EU, Canada, Mexico, GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council), Peru, Australia and New Zealand are under way with the aim of concluding these FTAs negotiations by the end of 2009.

World HeritageWorld Heritage
Haeinsa Temple Janggyeongpanjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks (1995)
Jongmyo Shrine (1995)
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (1995)
Changdeokgung Palace Complex (1997)
Hwaseong Fortress (1997)
Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (2000)
Gyeongju Historic Areas (2000)
Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes (2007)
Joseon Dynasty's royal tombs (2009)

2. Currency and Credit Card
The unit of Korean currency is the Korean Won (KRW). Coin denominations are 10Won, 50Won, 100Won, and 500Won. Bank notes are 1,000Won, 5,000Won, and 10,000Won (Please refer to following table). Foreign currency and traveler’s checks can be exchanged into Korean Won at most banks in Korea as well as at the airport. The exchange rate is subject to market fluctuation. One U.S. dollar is equivalent to about 1,157.30 KRW as of September 24, 2010.

Major credit cards, including VISA, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard are accepted at most hotels, department stores, and restaurants.

3. Tipping and Taxes
No tipping is required at major tourist spots. Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods at a standard rate of 10%. In major tourist hotels, a 10% VAT plus a 10% service charge is added to the bills for rooms, meals, and other services.

4. Business Hours

Business

Weekdays

Weekends &
National Holidays

Banks

9 am - 4 pm

Closed

Government Offices & Organizations

9 am - 6 pm

Closed

Post Offices

9 am - 6 pm
(Central Post Office: 9 am-8 pm)

closed
(Central Post Office:
9 am- 1 pm)

Foreign Diplomatic Missions

hours vary, please see the following link for more information:

closed

Department Stores

10:30 am - 8 pm
*Typically one day a month (usually a Monday) department stores are closed to the public. However, closings will vary according to each store.

* Time: Standard Time is nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+9). Korea does not use daylight savings time.

5. Transportation
  • Subway: Seoul has a well-developed subway system. Subway is the quickest, easiest and most convenient way to travel around Seoul. Fares are reasonable, station names and route maps are written in English. Subways also have the obvious advantage of not being slowed by Seoul’s occasionally slow downtown traffic. Fares depend on whether you are paying by cash or T-Money (Transportation Card). Subways are around 1000 - 1400 won per trip depending on how far you travel.

    - Ticket Purchase
    Please buy your ticket to use the train. Standard tickets can be purchased at either ATVM (Automatic Ticket Vending Machine) or the ticket office. Your fares could vary depending on your destination station so please check it carefully on the fare table.

    There are two kinds of tickets. One is prepaid transit card which is a rechargeable allowing passenger to use them until the balance on the card is exhausted and add value afterwards. It will give you a transfer discount as well. The other is a one-time use ticket which you can receive a 500 Won refund when you arrive at the destination. It requires an additional 100 Won to the prepaid transit and there will not be a transfer discount.

    √ Basic Fare: 900 won up to 10km
    √ Additional Fare
     - 10km - 40km: Additional 100 won per 5km
     - Over 40km: Additional 100 won per 10km
     But, if you are using the inner suburb section and those non-suburb sections (Gyeongbu Line~Chonan) successively, the fare for the inner circle will be charged first and additional fare of 100 won for every 4km of the non-suburb sections you have travelled.

Ticket

  • Taxi: Taxis are plentiful, clean, safe, and inexpensive in Korea. There are taxi stands in most busy city areas, and taxis can also be hailed on the streets. As well, certain taxis can be requested by phone though the fare for these special call taxis is somewhat higher than regular taxis. An increasing number of taxi drivers speak some English. The fare system is based on both distance and time. Fares are ₩2,400 for the first 2 kilometers and ₩100 for each additional 144 meters.

Regular Taxi

Deluxe Taxi (Mobeom Taxi)

2,400 won for the first 2km and 100 won for each additional 144m. Between midnight and 4:00 am, additional 20% is charged.

4,500 won for the first 3km and 200 won for each additional 164m. It offers a higher quality of service. Recognized by their black color.

  • Bus: The buses are categorized into four colors. Blue (arterial buses) are the routes which connect outlying areas with the downtown area and run along a north-south and east-west axis. The Green (local) buses operate within a specific district. These buses will also make stops at subway stations. These routes usually operate in local areas for passengers transferring to blue buses or subways. Then there are the Red (express buses) which link downtown Seoul with satellite cities. Finally, there are the Yellow (downtown circular) buses, which you might not see as often but these buses run short routes in major downtown areas. Buses are around 900 - 1000 won per trip depending on how far you travel.

6. Communication
A cell phone will be provided from the hotel upon request.
The rental charge is 13,000 Won/day and the domestic calling rate is 20 won/min
  • Room to Room Call
    - + Room Number
  • Cell Phone and Public Phone
    - 001 + Country Code + Area Code + Phone Number
    - Pre-paid cards are available at the front desk (1F) and shops
    Incoming calls are free for the cell phone.
  • Paying Method
    - Pre-paid cards are available at the front desk (1F) and convenience stores. (5,000 won, 10,000 won)

7. Electricity supply

Electricity supplyThe standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC/60 cycles.
However, outlets for 110 and 220 volts are available at the hotel.










II. Fun Fun Korea
(Tourist Attractions, Shopping, Useful Korean language)

Seoul

Seoul is a remarkably safe city. Violent crime rates are exceedingly low compared to other major cities around the world. Generally speaking, you can walk around just about any part of town at any part of the day and not feel threatened in any way. Seoul has tons of great walking courses that will put visitors in touch with the city’s history, culture and vibrant lifestyle. This section introduces just a few recommended courses to get you started.

Seoul Walking Tour Guide
Seoul is a safe city. Generally speaking, you can walk around just about any part of town at any part of the day and not feel threatened in any way. Seoul has tons of great walking courses that will put visitors in touch with the city’s history, culture and vibrant lifestyle. This section introduces just a few recommended courses to get you started.

1. Tourist Attractions

  • Gangnam Subway Station
    Truly as a shopper's paradise, each area in Gangnam boasts a different atmosphere as well as a variety of resources, catering to the diverse population of the city. Noted as the fashion haven for the hip and trendy, this area of Seoul is lined with famous 'Fashion Streets' and regions that offer elegant shopping establishments as well as chic boutiques and small bargain shops.

  • Underground arcade
    Gangnam subway station's underground arcade has dozens of shops selling music, clothes, cosmetics and accessories at discount price. Several restaurants offer a variety of types of food. Video game parlors provide the latest computer action games to enjoy.

  • Overview of the Area
    Rather new, compared to the neighborhoods of north (buk) of the Han River (gang, hence the name Gangbuk), the Gangnam (south of the Han River) area boasts more modern and cleaner facilities and streets. Originally, part of Kyonggi Province, this area of Gangnam-gu was annexed to the city of Seoul during the capital's expansion in 1963. Although just a few short decades ago Gangnam-gu was a large field of vast vegetation, today it is one of the most active and developed districts in the city of Seoul. Gangnam Station is among the liveliest of areas in Gangnam-gu. Gangnam station is easily accessible and widely visited. With its close access to Gangnam-gu's Teheranno (the venture capital area of Seoul), and many language and educational institutions in the area, Gangnam Station is a popular attraction for young professionals as well as students.

    By day, this area of Gangnam-gu tends to attract hordes of young people with its two movie theaters, numerous fast food restaurants, bookstores, arcades, shops, cafes and street vendors. Shops do a respectable day trade and sell everything from cell phone accessories to cosmetics and jewelry to jeans. Underground in the subway system, there is shop after shop in which customers can try to bargain their way down to a fair price. These stores close for business as does the subway station, around 11:30 p.m.

    Up above, however, do not count on cutting those prices down and stick with what is on the tag. Street vendors crowd the sidewalks and try to sell cheap CDs, jewelry, and sometimes even rabbits and puppies. Cafes in this neighborhood come aplenty and there is a variety in which to choose - from DVD cafes, video cafes, PC cafes, and cafes for coffee/tea. Noticeably cheaper than establishments in Apgujeong and Cheongdam, this area caters to a younger crowd.

  • Foods
    Due to the fact that the Gangnam Station area is home to many language and educational institutions, a large part of the daily crowd happens to be students. The shops and businesses cater to that age group, so everything seems to be comparatively cheaper here than the rest of Gangnam-gu, like Apgujeong or Cheongdam-dong. Easily accessible by public transportation and filled with fast food restaurants, donut shops, bakeries, and cheap eats, Gangnam Station is an ideal hot spot for youngsters. Chains of fast food joints, ice cream parlors, dessert shops line the area and are always filled with students. Tiny restaurants sell boonsheek, or simple, fast foods, such as gimbop, ramyun, udon, ddukbokki (rice cakes in hot spicy sauce) etc. Prices are extremely reasonable, costing only a few thousand won.

    Pool halls, pubs, soju (traditional Korean alcohol) bars, karaoke bars and nightclubs line the streets in Gangnam Station and come alive at night. The drinking age in Korea is eighteen, so by night, this area of Gangnam-gu is jam packed with college students. Most places serve beer (imported and domestic), hard liquor and soju, but if you are looking for something sophisticated, you are in the wrong neighborhood. Also, beware of bar and club employees who walk the streets, handing out name cards and coupons, in hopes of luring more customers into their businesses. Most bars and clubs tend to close anywhere between 2 to 4 am, but the clubs in Gangnam Station stay open until about 6am. Nightclubs in this neighborhood tend to be cheaper than other clubs in Gangnam-gu, but be careful what you order because everything comes at a price here, even water.

2. Korea’s Famous Food List

  • Samgyetang
    Samgyetang is a variety of guk or Korean soup, which primarily consists of a whole young chicken and Korean ginseng. The dish’s name means ‘ginseng chicken soup’ in English. Samgyetang is traditionally served in the summer for its supposed nutrients, which replaces those lost through excessive sweating and physical exertion during the hot summers in Korea. It is also enjoyable in winter with hot soup.

  • Bibimbap
    BibimbapBibimbap is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means "mixed rice." Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sauteed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.
    Vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned cucumber, zucchini, mu (daikon), mushrooms, doraji (bellflower root), and gim, as well as spinach, soybean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sautéed, or a leaf of lettuce may be added and chicken or seafood may be substituted for beef. For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so that adjacent colors complement each other.

  • Bulgogi
    Bulgogi is a Korean dish that usually consists of marinated barbecued beef, although chicken or pork may also be used. Bulgogi is believed to have originated during the Goguryeo era (37 BC–668 AD) when it was originally called Maekjeok, with the beef being grilled on a skewer. It was called Neobiani, meaning "thinly spreaded" meat, in the Joseon Dynasty and was traditionally prepared especially for the king.

3. Useful Korean Language

Useful Korean Language
  • Hello?: Annyoung hasimnica?
  • Good Bye:
    Annyounghee gasipsiyo.
  • Thank you: Gamsa hamnida.
  • How much is this?:
    Eulma imnica?
  • Excuse me: Sil-rye hamnida.
  • I am sorry: Mian Hamnida.
  • Let’s go to (Millennium Seoul Hotel).
    : (Millennium Seoul Hotel) ro gajuseyo.