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17 April 2014, Thursday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

South Korea and its modern capital, Seoul

A WOMAN IN TRADITIONAL KOREAN CLOTHING
28 April 2010, Wednesday /SAIM ORHAN
South Korea's capital of Seoul can be reached by a 10-hour direct flight from İstanbul. South Korea's territory covers 99,268 square kilometers. It has a population of almost 50 million. Turkish citizens can visit this modern country without a visa.

South Koreans are unable to forget how Turkey rushed to its aid in 1950. When you say Turkey, they respond by saying it is their sister country. Out of all the non-Muslim countries in the world, South Korea is perhaps the one that likes Turkey the most. Turkey was one of the 16 countries that offered support to South Korea during the Korean War. Everyone, from the average person on the street to teachers and industrialists and even the president, talks about how Turkey bravely took part in the struggle at the time. Among the countries that supported South Korea between 1950 and 1953, Turkey was the only Muslim country to do so. The graves of 462 fallen Turkish soldiers are in the cemetery in Busan. The total number of Turkish soldiers killed during the Korean War is 1,000.

The Korean and Turkish languages are held to be from the Ural-Altaic language family. Even though the words may not sound alike, they are very similar to each other in terms of grammar. It is for this reason that Turks and Koreans can learn each other's language easily.

The streets in South Korea are filled with brand new luxury cars. Almost all of them are local brands. It is a very technologically advanced country. The price of cars is half of what they are in Turkey. There are three times as many cars in Seoul as there are in İstanbul. Even though they import gas like Turkey, it is cheaper in South Korea, too. The price of one liter of gas is TL 2. South Korea's currency is the won. One dollar is 1,150 won.

Koreans are very strong-minded people. Even though the country was devastated in the aftermath of the war, today it is one of the most developed countries in the world. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is $28,000. The Koreans' hard-working nature has played a big role in the country's rapid development. The annual leave in the private sector is five days. Just five days. Employees stay at work until their manger or boss leaves. South Korea has demonstrated that a country can both develop and adhere to its traditions at the same time. Koreans even read books while walking.

South Korea is a country that attaches great importance to education and health. Every second week students have class until noon on Saturdays. When learning foreign languages, they are especially interested in English. English language classes are provided from primary school until the last year of university. Students also take additional private English courses. People have a great level of admiration for the US in this country. They call the US "Miguk," which means "beautiful country."

1) The Central Seoul Mosque, 2) The Rainbow International  School, Seoul, 3) A fish market in Seoul.

Seoul is South Korea's largest city. The capital is 50 kilometers south of the North Korean border and has a population of approximately 10 million. Seoul is also one of Ankara's sister cities. With its wide streets, temples, the Han River and giant skyscrapers, it is a unique city. The air in Seoul is hazy. There is fog almost all year round in this city. It's not really possible to see a completely blue sky. Seoul has beautiful big shopping centers for those who like to shop.

It is a modern and very organized city. It was rebuilt after the Korean War, which ended in 1953, and everything to the smallest detail was carefully thought out. Spacious streets, modern buildings and big shopping centers are an essential part of Seoul's landscape. It's interesting to see English next to Korean on road signs.

Public transportation in the city comes in the form of buses and subways. Intercity roads in South Korea are also of very high quality. Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. Just as kung fu belongs to the Chinese and karate to the Japanese, taekwondo belongs to the Koreans. It is South Korea's national sport. This sport, which was born in Korea, has found a place for itself even in the Olympics. “Tae” means to kick, jump or strike with the foot, “kwon” means to strike or break with the fist and “do” means way, method or art in Korean. It is the art of representing your body with hands and feet.

[QUICK FACTS]

Capital: Seoul

Official language: Korean

Government: Republic

President: Lee Myung-bak

Area: 99,720 square

kilometers

Population: 48,508,972*

Gross domestic product (PPP):

$1.356 trillion**

Main religions: Christian (26.3 percent),

Buddhist (23.2 percent), None (49.3 percent)

 

*July 2009 estimate

**2009 estimate

Korean martial arts have a history going back 5,000 years and have been called by different names. Taekwondo has similarities and differences to other martial arts. Taekwondo masters can perform acrobatic moves, break boards and bricks and hit two targets at the same time while in the air, showing just how good they are at what they do. Taekwondo is a sport based on using the mind and body and kicking and punching powerfully. It has been an Olympic sport since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Twenty-six percent of South Koreans are Christian and 23 percent are Buddhist. Close to 50 percent of the population does not follow any religion. There are still elements of shamanism practiced in Korea.

There are around 35,000 Muslims in South Korea. It has one of the smallest Muslim populations in the world. However, the number of Muslims has been increasing among South Koreans in recent years. The Seoul Central Mosque in the capital is where Muslims go to worship. The mosque is especially crowded on Fridays. Islam started spreading in South Korea after Turkish soldiers came to the country in 1950. They say we owe the growth of Islam to the Turkish soldiers.

The Rainbow International School in South Korea was opened by Turkish entrepreneurs in September 2007. South Korean and Turkish dignitaries attended its grand opening. Classes are taught in English, and even though the school is relevantly new, many foreign ambassadors have registered their children at the Rainbow International School. The children of five ambassadors from different countries study at this school. The teachers are Turkish, Korean and Canadian. Class sizes are 15 in the primary school and 10 in the middle school.

Students from 16 countries currently study at the Rainbow International School. No other school in South Korea has such a diverse student body. The classes are filled with students from various nationalities. It almost looks like the United Nations. The school has also attracted the attention of television channels, many of which have visited the school and have made programs about it. They marvel at how so many students from different countries can obtain a high quality education without any problems. Students are prepared for the future with love and peace at this school. The school's administrators have done an excellent job in achieving this. A very meaningful poster hangs in the conference hall. It reads "All people smile in the same language."

 
 
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