South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Koreato the north. Its capital is Seoul, which is also its largest city. South Korea lies in a temperate climate region with a predominantly mountainous terrain. Its territory covers a total area of 99,392 square kilometers and has a population of 50 million.
Korea's traditional holidays follow the lunar calendar, so they fall on different days each year. The two biggest, Seollal and Chuseok, are family holidays and entail everybody returning to their hometowns en masse, meaning that all forms of transport are absolutely packed.
- Shinjeong (신정), means New Years day: on the 1st day, January
- Seollal (설날), on the 1st day of the 1st month in the lunar calendar, is also known as "Korean New Year". Families gather together, eat traditional foods-especially Ddugguk (떡국) and perform an ancestral service. The public holiday lasts for 3 days, which includes the eve and second day. Many shops and restaurants close for the 3 days, so this might not be an ideal time to visit.
- Sameeljjeol (삼일절, 3.1절): 1st March, in commemoration of the March 1st resistance movement against the invading Japanese Imperial Army in 1919.
- Orininal (어린이날): means children's day, 5th May
- Buchonnim osinnal or sawolchopa-il: means Buddah's birthday, 8th, 4th month in the lunar calendar
- Hyeonchung-il (현충일): means memorial day, 6th June. In commemoration of people who gave their lives to the nation.
- Gwangbokjjeol (광복절): means independence day, 15th August. In commemoration of the liberation of Korean peninsula from the Japanese rule with the end of the second world war.
- Chuseok (추석), often dubbed "Korean Thanksgiving", is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the year (usually September-October). Koreans celebrate by eating traditional foods, notably a rice cake called songpyeon (송편) and playing folk games. The public holiday lasts for 3 days.
- Gaecheonjeol (개천절): 3rd October. In commemoration of the first formation of the nation of ancient Korea.
- Christmas (성탄절) has become a major holiday in Korea due to the large number of Christian converts in recent times. As such, it is an ideal time to visit and soak up the festive mood, and maybe listen to a couple of Korean renditions of popular Christmas songs.
- Spring is a great time of year to be in Korea. The temperatures are warm, but not hot and there's not too much rain either. However, spring is also the time when yellow dust blows over from China. Some days can be horrible to breathe because of this.
- Summer starts with a dreary rainy season (장마철,jangma-cheol) in June and turns into a steambath in July-August, with extreme humidity and the temperature heading as high as 35°C. Best avoided unless heading to the beaches.
- Fall, starting in September, is perhaps the best time to be in Korea. Temperatures and humidity become more tolerable, fair days are common and the justly renowned fall colors make their appearance.
- Winter is a good time to go skiing or hot-spring hopping, and the Korean invention of ondol (floor heating) helps defrost any parts that froze outside. However, January and February can be bone-biting cold due to Siberian winds from the north.
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