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조선 / 朝鮮 ( chosŏnmal )
한국 / 韓國 ( hangungmal )
Unification flag of Korea.svg

Korean reunification flag

Korea (orthographic projection) .svg

The location of Korea on a globe

language Korean
Biggest town Seoul ( South Korea )
Independent states Korea NorthNorth Korea Democratic People's Republic of Korea Republic of Korea
Korea SouthSouth Korea
Heads of State
 - Supreme Leader of North Korea
 - President of South Korea

Korea NorthNorth Korea Kim Jong-un Moon Jae-in
Korea SouthSouth Korea
 - total
 -% water

219,155 km²
 - total
 - density

approx. 77,000,000 (2017)
349 inhabitants per km²
currency North Korean Won (₩)
South Korean Won ( )
Time zone UTC +9 (KST)
Map korea german labels.png

Today in _ North and
_ South Korea divided Korea

North Korean spelling
Korean alphabet : 조선
Hanja : 朝鮮
Revised Romanization : Joseon
McCune-Reischauer : Choson
South Korean spelling
Korean alphabet : 한국
Hanja : 韓國
Revised Romanization : Hanguk
McCune-Reischauer : Hanguk

Korea is a country in East Asia , which is mainly located on the Korean Peninsula , bordered by the Yellow Sea to the west and the Sea of Japan to the east. In the north the territory borders on China and in the extreme northeast on Russia . In the south, the Korean Strait separates Korea from Japan . Numerous islands off the peninsula also belong to Korea.

Korea has been divided into two states since 1948 : the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( North Korea ) and the Republic of Korea ( South Korea ). A reunification of Korea is being sought primarily from the south. There are strong ties between the two parts of the country. This includes the common history, the Korean language and cultural traditions.


Korean names for Korea

In Korean , the country has different names in the north and south. In North Korea, it is known as Chosŏn , which refers to the first Korean kingdom ( Go-Joseon ) as well as the later Joseon dynasty .

In South Korea one speaks of Hanguk (translated about "Han Empire"). This term goes back to the historical states of Mahan , Jinhan and Byeonhan , which together formed the Bund Samhan ("Three Han") and existed from the first to the fourth centuries AD. From 1897 to 1910 the country was called Daehan Jeguk ( Great Han Empire ).

Name in western languages

Marco Polo named the peninsula Cauly during his travels in the late 13th century . This is based on the Chinese pronunciation of the name of the Korean kingdom Goryeo (Chinese Gāolì ). The two spellings Corea and Korea appear in European records well into the 20th century . In the English and German-speaking countries, the spelling Korea finally prevailed , in Romance languages ​​the spelling with the letter C prevailed.


History of Korea
from the 10th century
States of imperial unity
Colonial times
Division of Korea

Former Korean empires were under the influence of neighboring great powers. Korea was a vassal state of the Mongol Empire for about 150 years . The Korean Kingdom of Joseon was under the rule of the Chinese Empire until 1895 .

The short-lived Korean Empire existed from 1897 to 1910 . In 1905 it became a protectorate of the Japanese Empire , and in 1910 it was incorporated into it as a colony .

Division of Korea

After the end of World War II in 1945, it gained independence from Japan. At the same time, there was among the competing occupying powers Soviet Union and United States to the division of Korea , through the Korean War was solidified (1950-1953). The Korean conflict continues to this day; In 2018, the heads of government met in person for the first time.

Language and writing

Korean postage stamp from 1895. Korean inscription: Joseon upyo

The Korean language is spoken by approximately 78 million people worldwide. There is disagreement about their genetic classification in linguistic research, but most researchers assume an isolated language group .

At the instigation of King Sejong , the Hangeul alphabet was created in 1446 in order to provide the people with an easy-to-learn writing system suitable for the Korean language. From an operational point of view, it is indeed a letter font , but since the consonants and vowels are always arranged in blocks of syllables, one can also speak of a syllabary from a functional point of view . Before the creation of the hangeul, the Chinese characters ( called Hanja in Korean ) were used, which in some cases, such as the hyangga poems, were used to reproduce Korean, but mostly for writing using the classical Chinese written language . Since this remained the common written language until the end of the 19th century and its mastery was a characteristic of the scholarly nobility (the so-called Yangban class ), the Korean script was only granted a shadowy existence in the first 400 years of its existence.

With the emergence of a Korean national sentiment in the 19th century, the progressive Gabo reforms, and the efforts of Western missionaries, the Hangeul alphabet became more widespread. After Korean independence was regained in 1945, it was made an official script in both parts of the country. In South Korea, the Hanja are still occasionally used to spell the Sinokorean, i.e. H. Words composed of Chinese characters are used (very often in scientific publications). In North Korea they were officially abolished in 1949, where only Hangeul is used for writing .


Before Korea came under Japanese rule, it had formed a homogeneous empire for centuries and developed its own culture and society. As a result, North Korea and South Korea still share a lot in common today. The culture of Korea is shaped , among other things, by Confucian and Buddhist customs.

The Koreans have developed many Chinese handicrafts. Korea has long been known for its silk and pottery work. Goldwork from Korea was also highly regarded. In Korea, letterpress printing with movable type made of metal was already being used at the end of the 12th century - around 200 years before Johannes Gutenberg's invention in Europe . In the late 16th century, the so-called turtle ships were developed in Korea and used successfully in the Imjin War against Japan.


The yen was not able to establish itself as a means of payment in Korea until 1731; previously money and other means of payment, such as fabrics or grain, alternated with each other. From 1751 the government minted coins annually; In 1864 it banned private coins that had been minted with a royal license until then. Modern decimal coins were issued for the first time in 1882.

Between 1892 and 1902 the Korean currency was the yang (양 / 兩), which was replaced in 1902 by the Korean won (圓) with a ratio of 1 won = 5 yang. On June 1, 1905, under Japanese influence, Korea took over the gold standard applicable there and linked its currency to Japan's 1: 1 ratio. With the annexation of Korea in 1910, the Korean won was also abolished and replaced by the Korean yen (ratio 1: 1 to the Japanese yen), which was used until the end of World War II in 1945.

After the end of the colonial period and the division of Korea into two parts , the first South Korean won was introduced in South Korea in 1945, initially in value to the Japanese yen at a ratio of 1: 1, but in October of the same year pegged to the American dollar at a ratio of 1 dollar = 15 won . Towards the end of the Korean War (1953) the value of the won had sunk to 1 dollar = 6000 won, which is why the new currency was the hwan (1 hwan = 100 won). The hwan also lost value rapidly due to inflation (February 1953: 1 dollar = 60 hwan; February 1961: 1 dollar = 1250 hwan), which is why in 1962 the second South Korean won (1 won = 10 hwan) took its place is valid today.


  • Jürgen Kleiner: Korea. Reflections on a distant country . RG Fischer, Frankfurt 1980, ISBN 3-88323-163-0 .
  • Ingeborg Göthel: The fall of ancient Korea . Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1996, ISBN 3-447-03808-X .
  • Korea Overseas Information Service (Ed.): A Handbook of Korea . Seoul 2002, ISBN 1-56591-022-2 (English).
  • Won-Bok Rhie: Korea Unmasked . Gimm Young International, Seoul 2002, ISBN 89-349-1178-6 (English).
  • Hanns W. Maull, Ivo M. Maull: In focus: Korea . CH Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-50716-6 .
  • Marion Eggert, Jörg Plassen: Small history of Korea . CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52841-4 .
  • Thomas Kern, Patrick Köller: South Korea and North Korea. Introduction to history, politics, economics and society . Campus Verlag, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-593-37739-X .
  • Du-Yul Song, Rainer Werning: Korea. From the colony to the divided country . Promedia Verlag, Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-85371-340-2 .
  • Hans J. Zaborowski (Ed.): Fairy tales from Korea. Angkor Verlag, Frankfurt 2005, ISBN 3-936018-38-3 .

Web links

Portal: Korea  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Korea
Wiktionary: Korea  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Korea  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Korea  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. The dictator Kim surprises the world sn-online.de, SN of April 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Jae Jung Song: The Korean Language: Structure, Use and Context . Routledge, London / New York 2005, ISBN 0-203-39082-2 .
  3. ^ Lyle Campbell & Mauricio J. Mixco: A Glossary of Historical Linguistics . Edinburgh University Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7486-2378-5 , pp. 7, 90 f . (English, academia.edu ): “most specialists […] no longer believe that the […] Altaic groups […] are related. [...] Korean is often said to belong with the Altaic hypothesis, often also with Japanese, though this is not widely supported ”
  4. Nam-Kil Kim: Korean In: International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. 2, 1992, pp. 282-286, “ scholars have tried to establish genetic relationships between Korean and other languages ​​and major language families, but with little success.
  5. Art of the World: The Non-European Cultures. Volume 12: Burma - Korea - Tibet. By Alexander B. Griswold, Chewon Kim, Pieter H. Pott. Holle Verlag, Baden-Baden 1964, p. 103.

Coordinates: 37 ° 0 '  N , 127 ° 0'  E