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Guide for Living in Korea

General Information

01 Official Name of Country

Republic of Korea (commonly known as “Korea”)

02 Geography (Location & Area)

South Korea is located in Asia on the Korean Peninsula; it measures a total of 100,188.1 ㎢ and takes up 45% of the Korean Peninsula, which is a total of of 221,000 ㎢. The total area of the peninsula includes all of the Korean Peninsula and its annexed islands, occupied by both South and North Korea. The Korean Peninsula is slightly larger than Cambodia (181,035 ㎢), and about 2/3 the size of the Philippines (300,000 ㎢), Vietnam (331,210 ㎢), and Japan (377,915 ㎢)
The Korean Peninsula, on which South Korea and North Korea are located, neighbors China to thenorthwest with Amnokgang (River) as its borderline, and China and Russia to the northeast withDumangang (River) as its borderline. The peninsula is bordered by the Yellow Sea in the west, theEast Sea in the east, and the South Sea in the south. The southern and western parts of the KoreanPeninsula are plains, while the eastern and the northern parts are mountainous. The highest mountainin the Korean Peninsula is Baekdusan(2,744m). Gaemagowon, which is in the northern part of theKorean Peninsula, is called “the Roof of Korea,” and the Taebaek Range located on the east coast iscalled “Baekdudaegan”. Best known islands of the Korean Peninsula include Jeju Island, Geoje Island,Jin Island, and Ulleung Island. Jeju Island and Ulleung Island were formed by volcanic activities. Thewest coast and the south coast of the Korean Peninsula are ria coasts, and there is a large tidal range.(Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport)

03 National Flag (Taegeukgi)

The national flag of Korea is the “Taegeukgi,” which is mostly white with a yin-yang symbol at the center and with “Geon,” “Gon,” “Gam,” and “Li” (groups of black bars) located at each of the four corners.
The white background of the flag represents brightness and pureness, expressing Koreans’ traditional love of peace. The Yin-yang pattern at the center symbolizes harmony between “Yin” (blue) and “Yang” (red), and embodies the truth that all things in the universe get created and exist through interactions between Yin and Yang.
The 4 symbols at the corners represent the images of Yin and Yang, changing and interacting with each other.
Each of these 4 symbols exists in harmony with the Yin-yang at the center. All of these symbols of the Taegeukgi reflect the Korean ideal of promoting creation and prosperity while remaining in sync with the Universe (source: Ministry of Interior and Safety).

04 National Flower (Mugunghwa)

The national flower of Korea is the Mugunghwa, whichhas been loved by the Korean people from ancienttimes. The name of the flower means, "flower thatblooms and never falls for eternity." Ancient recordsshow that the Korean people have regarded theMugunghwa as a flower from heaven since before theGojoseon Era. The Silla Kingdom even referred to itself as“Geunhwahyang”, meaning “the nation of Mugunghwa”.

The Mugunghwa has been an important flower throughout Korean history, and love of this flower is even reflected to the national anthem (written during the late Joseon Era), which includes the verse "splendid rivers and mountains with endless roads of Mugunghwa." The Korean people's undying love for the Mugunghwa continued through the Japanese occupation, and it was officially named the national flower after the emancipation.
(Source: Ministry of Interior and Safety).

05 Population

Korea’s total population is 51,779,203 (as of the Population and Housing Census in 2019, Statistics Korea), making it the world’s 28th most populous country. The population density is 515 people per ㎢ (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport intellectual statistical yearbook, Statistics Korea Future Population Estimate), which is the 23rd largest in the world.

06 Economy

Korea’s GDP is USD 1.6308 trillion, making it the 12th largest economy in the world. Per capita GDP is USD 31,494.90. (Bank of Korea National Account 2020).

07 Government Organization

Korea is a democratic republic wherein the president, as head of the state, directs and supervises the heads of all central administrative bodies according to the law. The prime minister is given authority by the president to direct and supervise the chiefs of each central administrative institute. As shown in the following chart, the central government of Korea (as of September 2020) consists of 18 ministries, 4 special ministries, and 18 services. Among these, the 18 ministries are in charge of the following administrative tasks :

  1. 1The Ministry of Economy and Finance is responsible for the following areas: planning of mid-to-longterm national development strategy, planning/direction/coordination of economic and financial policies,formulation/execution/evaluation of budgets and funds, domestic currency/foreign currency/nationaltreasury/government accounting/domestic tax system/customs/international financing, management ofpublic offices, and economic collaboration/national assets/private investment/government debt.
  2. 2The Ministry of Education manages affairs related to HR development policies, school education,lifelong education and academic affairs.
  3. 3The Ministry of Science and ICT manages affairs such as the development, management,coordination, and evaluation of policies related to science and technology; R&D, cooperation andpromotion of science and technology; development of HR specialized in science and technology;research, development, production and use of nuclear power; planning related to ICT introduction inKorea, information protection and information culture; convergence and promotion of broadcastingand communications and signal management; ICT industry; and affairs related to mail, postal moneyorders, and mail transfer
  4. 4The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for the following areas: diplomacy,tradenegotiation with foreign countries, direction/coordination of trade negotiation, coordinationof international relations, treaties, other international agreements, protecting/supporting overseasresidents, planning policy related to overseas Koreans, and surveying/analyzing international affairs.
  5. 5The Ministry of Unification is responsible for the following areas: planning of policy related todialogue/exchange/collaboration between South and North Korea, unification education, and otheradministrative works related to unification.
  6. 6The Ministry of Justice is responsible for the following areas: prosecution, execution, human rightsprotection, immigration control, and other administrative works related to judicial affairs.
  7. 7The Ministry of National Defense is responsible for the following areas: military administration andcommand related to national defense, and other administrative works related to military affairs.
  8. 8The Ministry of Interior and Safety is responsible for the following: secretariat affairs of the Cabinet Council; announcement of acts and treaties; organization and quorum of government bodies; prizes and decorations; government innovations; administrative efficiency; e-government; protection of personal information; management of government offices; local government organization; secretariat support, finances and tax systems of local governments; support for less-developed areas; arbitration of disputes among local governments; support for elections and national votes; establishment, generalization, and arbitration of policies regarding safety and disaster; and affairs on emergency preparation, civil defense, and prevention of disasters.
  9. 9The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism manages affairs related to culture, arts, video,advertisements, publishing, periodicals, sports, tourism, promotion of government administrations andgovernment releases.
  10. 10The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs manages agriculture, livestock, foods, farmlands,irrigation, promotion of the food industry, development of agricultural villages, and distribution ofagricultural goods.
  11. 11The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy manages affairs related to commerce, trade, industry, commercial negotiation, coordination and management of commercial negotiation, foreign investments, medium-sized enterprises, and R&D policies related to industrial technology and energy and underground resources.
  12. 12The Ministry of Health and Welfare manages affairs such as health and hygiene, preventive measures, medical and pharmaceutical affairs, general welfare, self-support, social security, child welfare (including childcare for infants), and programs benefitting senior citizens as well as the disabled.
  13. 13The Ministry of Environment manages affairs such as the preservation of natural and livingenvironments, the prevention of environmental pollution, preservation, use and development of waterresources.
  14. 14The Ministry of Employment and Labor manages affairs such as overall labor policy, employmentinsurance, skills development training, working conditions criteria, welfare for workers, labormanagement adjustment, occupational safety and health, industrial accident compensation insurance,and other administrative affairs related to employment and labor
  15. 15The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family manages affairs such as policies benefitting women,women rights promotion, and policies/event benefitting youth and family (including children affairsrelated to multi-cultural families and healthy families).
  16. 16The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport manages affairs related to the developmentand coordination of the comprehensive national land management plan; the preservation, useand development of the national land; construction of cities, roads and houses; coasts, rivers andreclamation; and land, rail, and air transportation.
  17. 17The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries manages affairs related to marine policies, fisheries, developmentof fishing villages, distribution of fish, marine transportation, ports, the oceanic environment, oceansurveys, development of marine resources, R&D of marine science and technology and marine safetytribunal.
  18. 18The Ministry of SMEs and Startups is responsible for planning and synthesizing policies for smallto medium-sized companies, protection and promoting small- to medium-sized companies, supportfor startups and ventures, cooperation between large and small- to medium-sized companies, andprotection and support for small businesses.

08 Local Administrative Districts

Korea is divided into 17 metropolitan councils and 226 district councils. Among the metropolitan councils are 1 special city, 6 metropolitan cities, 1 special self-governing city, 8 provinces, and 1 special self-governing province.
Local governments consist of 75 cities, 82 guns (counties), and 69 self-governing districts; as of December 31, 2019, there are 3,491 eups, myeons, and dongs, which are sub-districts of each local government.

Local Administrative Districts : This is the table that includes Special City, Metropolitan Cities, Special SelfGoverning City, Provinces and Special SelfGoverning District.
Special CityMetropolitan CitiesSpecial Self-Governing CityProvincesSpecial SelfGoverning District
1. Seoul Special City2. Busan Metropolitan City
3. Daegu Metropolitan City
4. Incheon Metropolitan City
5. Gwangju Metropolitan City
6. Daejeon Metropolitan City
7.Ulsan Metropolitan City
8. Sejong Special Self-governing City9. Gyeonggi-do
10. Gangwon-do
11. Chungcheongbuk-do
12. Chungcheongnam-do
13. Jeollabuk-do
14. Jeollanam-do
15. Gyeongsangbuk-do
16. Gyeongsangnam-do
17. Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
Map of Korea
  • The map of Korea above is in 1:1,2,00,000 scale, and was produced by the National GeographicInformation Institute of the Ministry of Land. For details, visit: the website: ( >Spatial Information > Map Information > Map of Korea and the World.
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