While South Korea still makes it to the news as often as necessary, sometimes the news passes the audiences’ radar, as it is overshadowed by whatever news gets out from its nearest neighbor, North Korea. South Korea also seemed crowded by its bigger and more high-profile border countries, China, Japan and of course, North Korea. But South Korea does not deserve to be overshadowed. It actually deserves more attention as it is a country that managed to develop using their own resources through its years of isolation and is now considered an electronics, communications and manufacturing giant. So now, let us take a look at some of the misconceptions people around the world have about South Korea.
A wasteland that’s greatly polluted
It might be the case after the war that the older generation remembers; when the land was devastated, the mountains were denuded and the inhabitants, especially the children lost their lives due to exposure to the elements and starvation. That is not the case today, as South Korea is known for its scenic beauty, where trees abound and the mountains change color with the season. Signs of cosmopolitan living are everywhere.
It is an overstatement. South Korea is not China. South Korea’s population is 50 million, with an average population density of 501 people per square kilometer. Seoul though is densely populated, with 9.8 million residents. This is understandable because Seoul is the center of commerce, industry, finance, education, culture, history and technology. The Seoul Capital Area though is now home to half of South Korea’s population, including more than 620,000 foreigners that live and work here.
South Koreans are Buddhists
There’s nothing wrong if they are Buddhists, although in fact only about 22% of the population are Buddhists. There are more Christians in South Korea, at 29%. However, large portions of the populace, actually close to 46% are Atheists. Around Seoul, you will see quite a number of neon-lit crosses on top of the churches. Seoul is the home of the largest church in the world, the Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has more than one million members/followers. The number of Christians in South Korea is increasing.
Korean women are submissive
This is another misconception, maybe because Korean society is patriarchal. However, in the home, the women are more powerful. The wife is the one that holds the purse strings and is normally the one making all the decisions regarding the household. A married woman or ajumma, is known to be very fierce, strong, determined and protective.
The fact is South Korea ranks 15th in the world in nominal GDP and 12th by purchasing power parity. It is the most industrialized member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), one of the fastest-growing developed countries and economies and an Asian Tiger. It is a technologically-advanced nation and the whole country is wired and has the fastest Internet download speed in the world. Therefore, there should not be any misconception about South Korea at all.