Ethnic Groups: homogeneous (with the exception of approximately 20,000 Chinese)
Languages: Korean (English is taught in Junior High and High Schools)
Economy: South Korea is considered equal to the lesser economies of the European Union and it has a GDP per capita which is 18 times higher than neighboring North Korea. South Korea experienced high economic success during the 1980s because the government promoted high imports of raw materials and investment and savings. However, in 1997 South Korea experienced a financial crisis due to the government's developmental outlook and in 1999 began to recover by changing to a more corporate financial perspective. South Korea is known for exports such as electronic products, machinery and equipment, motor vehicles, steel, ships, and textiles. The United States is the country's largest export partner. Agriculture products include rice, barley, chickens, and fish.
Industries: Electronics, automobile production, clothing, and footwear
Following World War II, South Korea was established as a republic while their neighboring country of North Korea adopted a Communist government. During the Korean War (1950-1953), the United States and other UN forces fought with the South Korean people against North Korean attacks which were aided by the Chinese. In 1953 an armistice was signed which officially divided the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel, creating a demilitarized zone. South Korea experienced rapid economic growth and in June 2002, representatives from North and South Korea met at a summit to discuss relations between the two countries.
South Korea is a republic and has three branches of government similar to the United States of America: Executive, Legislative (only one assembly), and Judicial. South Korea has a president, President NO Mu-hyun, Prime Minister, KO Kun, and 2 Deputy Prime Ministers, KIM Chin-p'yo and YUN Tok-hong. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, the prime minister is appointed by the president, and the deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president who follows the guidance of the prime minister.
The school system in South Korea consists of 6 years of elementary education and 6 years of secondary education (i.e., 3 years of middle school, and 3 years of high school). Elementary education is compulsory and in the 1980s it was made to be free.
Similar to the educational views of the United States, South Korea has recognized the need for school culture to become more autonomous and individualized according to student population and community characteristics. To address these aspects of education, policies have begun to address: creating an autonomous school community; implementing a student-centered curriculum; diversifying the methods of evaluating students; vitalizing after-school extra-curricular activities and emphasizing the professionalism of teachers. Additionally, in the past most schools used a norm-referenced evaluation. Students were ranked according to the average total score they receive by combining grades from all subject areas. Class instruction, was designed for students to get good grades on their test scores at the expense of achieving the genuine goals and objectives of education. South Korea has recognized that the school education has failed to develop student's abilities to understand and think in comprehensive and creative ways. To address this dilemma, a policy has been created to try to evaluate students on a number of different criteria.