South Korea - Encyclopedia Information
Official name Republic of Korea
Formation 1948 / 1953
Population 48.5 million / 1272 people per sq mile (491 people per sq km)
Total area 38,023 sq. miles (98,480 sq. km)
Religions Mahayana Buddhist 47%, Protestant 38%, Roman Catholic 11%, Confucianist 3%, Other 1%
Ethnic mix Korean 100%
Government Presidential system
Currency South Korean won = 100 chon
Literacy rate 99%
Calorie consumption 3074 kilocalories
This is the country we usually call South Korea.
Pretty much everyone has heard of the Korean War, but did you also know that we occupied a bit of South Korea in the late nineteenth century and set up a naval base there? Port Hamilton, or Geomun-do, is a group of islands off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. Sir Edward Belcher (great name) dropped in on board HMS Samarang in 1845 and named the place Port Hamilton after the then secretary of the admiralty. By the late nineteenth century, we were worried about expanding Russian influence in the area, so we decided to do a bit of expanding ourselves, and in April 1885 (in what for fairly obvious reasons became known as the Port Hamilton Incident), three British warships arrived to establish a base on one of the islands here as a counterbalance to Vladivostok on the Russian coast. There are still British graves here, including two sailors from HMS Albatross who were killed in 1886 by their gun exploding. In 1887 we demolished the base and abandoned it.
As with the push into North Korea during the Korean War, British forces played a key role in the fighting in South Korea. The 27th British Commonwealth Brigade, for instance, helped defend the Pusan bridgehead and joined in the subsequent push north from there to meet up with the forces put ashore in the Inchon landings.