Main article: Demographics of South Korea
The Korean People
Korea's population is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogenous in the world, with the only minority being a small Chinese community. People whose parents are a mixed couple (e.g. American servicemen, European businessmen... who married a Korean woman) are perceived as a minority there and quite often discriminated (e.g. children at school). Koreans have lived in Manchuria for many centuries, who are now a minority in China, and Joseph Stalin sent thousands of Koreans, against their will, to Central Asia (in the former U.S.S.R) from Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, while the majority of Korean population in Japan moved there during the colonial period.
Political, social and economic instability in South Korea have driven many South Koreans to emigrate to foreign countries, amongst which the friendship, freedom and opportunities provided by the United States and Canada render popularity.
About 85 percent of South Koreans live in urban areas. The capital city of Seoul had 10.4 million inhabitants in 2000, making it the most populated single city (excluding greater metropolitan areas) in the world. Its density has allowed it to become one of the most "digitally-wired" cities in today's globally connected ecomony. Other major cities include Busan (3.9 million), Incheon (2.9 million), Daegu (2.65 million), Daejon (1.48 million), Gwangju (1.38 million) and Ulsan (1.15 million).
The Korean language, thought by some scholars to be a member of a wider linguistic family of the Altaic languages, is currently classified as a language isolate by western scholars. Its vocabulary, however, has borrowed a lot from neighboring countries, especially from Chinese and Japanese.
The Korean writing system, Hangul, was invented in 1446 by King Sejong the Great to widely spread education - as Chinese characters were thought to be too difficult and time consuming for a common person to learn - through the Royal proclamation of Hunminjeongeum (훈민정음/訓民正音) which literally means the "proper sounds to teach the general public." It is different from the Chinese form of written communication as it is phonetically based.
Numerous underlying words still stem from Hanja and older people in Korea still prefer to write words in Hanja, as they were strictly forbidden to study and speak the Korean language when Japan ruled. Koreans are the only people in the world who fully understand how, when and why their written language was created through the transcripts of King Sejong's innovative contribution.
In 2000 the government decided to introduce a new romanisation system, which this article also uses. English is taught as a second language in most primary and intermediate schools. Those students in high school are also taught 2 years of either Chinese, Japanese, French, German or Spanish as an elective course.
Christianity (31.7%) and Buddhism (23.9%) comprise South Korea's two dominant religions. Christianity grew exponentially in the 1970s and early 1980s, and despite slower growth in the 1990s, overtook Buddhism as the largest single faith. Presbyterians (with around 7.8 million members), Roman Catholics (3.8 million), Pentecostals (1.7 million), and Methodists (1.4 million) are the largest denominations. Statistics have been published purporting to show that almost 50 percent of South Koreans are Christians, but these figures are almost certainly inflated, due to the high incidence of dual membership and unrecorded transferal of membership among different denominations. Christians, although well represented in all parts of South Korea, are especially strong around Seoul, where they comprise about 50 percent of the population.
Buddhism is stronger in the more conservative south of the country. There are a number of different "schools" in Buddhism; among them are the Seon (선); (closely related to Zen in Japan and Chan in China, and the more modern Wonbulgyo (원불교); movement, which emphasizes the unity of all things. Other religions comprise about 9.4 percent of the population. These include Shamanism (traditional spirit worship) and Cheondogyo, an indigenous religion combining elements of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Confucianism is small in terms of self-declared adherents, but the great majority of South Koreans, irrespective of their formal religious affiliation, are strongly influenced by Confucianist values, which continue to permeate Korean culture.
About 35 percent of South Koreans profess to follow no parti
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