Regular Events &
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About Korea

Time, Weather & Currency Exchange

Time

The time in Korea is:
11:17 AM

(Korea does not adjust for Daylight Savings. Time quoted is based upon your internal server's clock.)
When Indicating Korea Time: Present Time (GMT+9) / No daylight savings time

City Time
Rio de Janeiro, S`ao Paulo *13 *16 *19 *22 1 4 7 11
New York, Montreal, Bogota, Toronto *11 *14 *17 *20 *23 2 5 8
Chicago, Houston *10 *13 *16 *19 *22 1 4 7
Vancouver, Seattle,
San Francisco, Los Angeles
*8 *11 *14 *17 *20 *23 2 5
Sydney, Melbourne 2 5 8 11 14 17 20 23
Seoul, Tokyo (Korea Time) 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22
Taipei, Manila, Hong Kong,
Kulala Lumpur, Singapore
*24 3 6 9 12 15 18 21
Bangkok, Jakarta *23 2 5 8 11 14 17 20
New Delhi, Calcutta *22 1 4 7 10 13 16 19
Teheran, Kuwait, Jeddah *19 *22 1 4 7 10 13 16
Hamburg, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam *17 *20 *23 2 5 8 11 14
London, Madrid *16 *19 *22 1 4 7 10 13
Weather


Currency Exchange

More Information for Currency Exchange :

Bills
10,000 won
man won
5,000 won
ocheon won
1,000 won
cheon won

Coins
500 won
obaek won
100 won
baek won
50 won
osip won
10 won
sip won

Korea`s official monetary unit is the won.
The Korean currency consists of a ten thousand, five thousand, and one thousand won note, and five hundred, one hundred, fifty and ten won coins.

Currency Exchange Rate
Recently, a dollar exchanges for about 1,200 won. Exchange rates may change at any time according to the market conditions.

Exchanging Money
When you need to exchange your foreign currency into Korean won, visit a bank, exchange service center, or an authorized exchange.

Business hours
- Bank : 9:30 am - 4:30 pm except Saturday, Sunday and Holidays
- Exchange service center : 9:30 am - 10 pm, everyday
- Authorized exchange: 24 hours in hotels, and 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at other places.
  Don`t forget to take your receipt.

Traveler's Checks
Traveler's checks are economical because they will receive higher exchange rates and can be purchased at a cheaper rate. Travelers should not have to worry about damages if checks are lost or stolen. Traveler's checks are used like cash at hotels, department stores, restaurants and shops, but it is better to exchange them for cash for more comfort. Visa, American Express, and Thomas Cook are used in Korea, and these checks can be exchanged into cash at banks or exchange booths.

Credit Card
Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and others are used at hotels, department stores, large restaurants, and stores.

Location / Climate

Korea lies in the northeastern part of the Asian continent. It is located between 33 degrees and 43 degrees in Northern Latitude, and 124 degrees and 132 degrees in Eastern Longitude. China, Russia and Japan are adjacent to Korea. Local time is nine hours ahead of GMT.

The Korean peninsula, approximately 1,000 km long and 216 km wide at its narrowest point, is located just south of Manchuria between China and the island of Japan. The land area is 99,200 sq./km (38,301 square miles), and its population is 45 million.

Korea has four seasons, with a wet monsoon/summer in the middle of the year, and a cold winter from November to March. The island of Jeju off the southern coast is the warmest and wettest place in the country. The most ideal time to visit Korea is during the autumn months (September~November). During this time, the country experiences warm, sunny weather, skies that are cobalt blue and spectacular foliage that is perhaps the biggest draw. Winters are cold and dry and remain a good time if you are interested in winter sports as there are numerous ski resorts. Spring (April~May) is also beautiful with all the cherry blossoms in bloom. However, it is very busy and one needs to book in advance to ensure accommodation is available. The summer months are muggy and hot, and rather crowded. It is also when the monsoon begins so many activities are subject to the fluctuations of heavy rain.

Korea's climate is regarded as a continental climate from a temperate standpoint and a monsoonal climate from a precipitation standpoint. The climate of Korea is characterized by four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Spring
Spring lasts from late March to May and is warm. Various flowers, including the picturesque cherry blossom, cover the nation's mountains and fields during this time.
Summer
Summer lasts from June to early September. It is a hot and humid time of the year.
Autumn
Autumn lasts from September to November, and produces mild weather. It is the best season for visiting Korea.
Winter
Winter lasts from December to mid-March. It can be bitterly cold during this time due to the influx of cold Siberian air. Heavy snow in the northern and eastern parts of Korea makes for favorable skiing conditions


Korean Cuisine

Korean Food
Koreas varied and nutritious cuisine provides a delightful journey into unexplored wonders. Many might be familiar with kimchi, galbi (also known as kalbi) and bibimbap, but the offerings extend well beyond these beloved dishes. The Korean diet is richly endowed with fermented foods, vegetables and grains, soups, teas and liquors. Since early times, Koreans have developed fermented recipes in order to preserve foods that would provide essential nutrients through the lean winter months.
Korea also boasts hundreds of vegetable and wild green dishes. The Korean meal almost always consists of a big bowl of hot soup, accompanied by a variety of tasty side dishes made from a large selection of fresh vegetables. Korean foods are seldom deep fried, but rather they are usually broiled, stir-fried, steamed or sometimes pan-fried with vegetable oil.

Korean Table Manners
Koreas varied and nutritious cuisine provides a delightful journey into unexplored wonders. Many might be familiar with kimchi, galbi (also known as kalbi) and bibimbap, but the offerings extend well beyond these beloved dishes. The Korean diet is richly endowed with fermented foods, vegetables and grains, soups, teas and liquors. Since early times, Koreans have developed fermented recipes in order to
preserve foods that would provide essential nutrients through the lean winter months.

The History of Kimchi
A fermented vegetable dish, kimchi is Koreas most famous side dish and is served at practically every Korean meal. This spicy, uniquely flavored dish is prepared by fermenting different vegetables, complemented by numerous seasonings. Although the history of fermented food dates back 4,000 years, it wasnt until the 17th century that spicy food appeared on the peninsula, after the chili pepper was introduced to Korea by Portuguese traders. Today there are at least 160 kinds of kimchi,
many using distinct pickling methods and ingredients.

The Traditional Tea Ceremony
Tea in Korea dates back more than 2,000 years when it came to the peninsula from China. Hoping that its fragrance would reach the heavenly gods, people in ancient times offered tea in worship rites. During the height of Buddhism, monks created the Dado Tea Ceremony as a guide to the proper protocol for the preparation, serving and drinking of tea. The elegant tea ceremony has recently been revived so
modern-day Koreans may understand their cultural legacy. The ceremony was developed to touch all five senses: holding the tea cup, feeling the tea warmth, seeing the colors, smelling the fragrance and taking the first taste, all while enjoying the companionship of friends. Seoul Yejiwon Institute, a cultural organization that preserves traditional Korean ceremonies, offers one-hour tea ceremonies for groups of ten or more.

Royal Cuisine
During the Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910), very elaborate rules were developed for the preparation of royal dishes, which were served in a formalized, austere procedure. Well-trained court ladies used the highest-quality products and seafood, which were presented as gifts to the king from all corners of the country. Royal cuisine, although similar to common foods, were generally less salty and spicy.
The Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine, founded in Seoul in 1971, has preserved the art of royal cooking and it operates Jihwaja, a restaurant specializing in royal dishes.

Traditional Liquors & Wines
Alcohol is popular with Koreans and often accompanies meals and social events. The most popular Korean liquors are makgeolli (unrefined rice wine), cheongju (refined rice wine) and soju (liquor made from sweet potatoes). From ancient times, Koreans have practiced a specific set of customs concerning drinking, many of which are still observed today. For example, one pours liquor for other persons only, never for oneself. It is a rule of courtesy for juniors to pour liquors for their seniors, and the juniors should pay attention not to leave a senior glass empty.
When a senior offers a junior a glass, the junior should receive it with two hands and drink with the head turned aside, not facing the other person. It is also the custom to cup the right sleeve with the left hand when pouring for a senior.

Korean Food Users Guide
Print the following list before visiting Korea. When dining at restaurants you may use it to help you decide what you wish to eat.

Name of Dish Korean Description
Ahl Tang Spicy roe soup
Bibimbap Steamed rice mixed with vegetables, egg and chili paste.
Bin Dae Tteok Mung bean pancake
Bulgogi Ұ Marinated, barbecue beef
Cheolpan Gui öDZ Broiled beef, seafood & vegetables
Dak Galbi ߰ Broiled spicy chicken and vegetables
Galbi Seasoned, beef ribs
Galbi Tang Beef rib soup
Gop Jang Jeongol â Tripe casserole
Haemultang ع Spicy seafood stew
Hanjeong Sik Korean table d'hote
Hwoe Deop Bap ȸ Sliced raw fish salad; served with mixed vegetables and steamed rice
Jeonbok Juk Abalone porridge
Juk Porridge
Kimchi Jjigae ġ Kimchi stew
Maeun Tang ſ Spicy and hot fish and vegetable soup
Naengmyeon ø Buck-wheat noodles in cold broth.
Saeu Twigim Ƣ Deep-fried shrimp
Samgyetang Ginseng, chicken soup
Seolleong Tang Beef soup served with rice
Sundubu κ Soft tofu
Yukgaejang Spicy beef soup

Korean History
Korea has had a long history dating back to 2,333 B.C. This section follows the History of Korea from the prehistoric age to its current era.
Archaeological findings have indicated that the first settlements on the Korean Peninsula occurred 700,000 years ago.
According to legend, the mythical figure Dan-gun founded Gojoseon, the first Korean Kingdom, in 2333 B.C. Subsequently, several tribes moved from the southern part of Manchuria to the Korean Peninsula.
The Three Kingdoms refers to a period of time (early 4th to mid-7th centuries A.D.) marked by the struggle of three rival kingdoms: Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla over the territory spanning the Korean peninsula and part of Northeastern Asia.

Goguryeo
An ancient state of the Korean peninsula, Goguryeo occupied the largest territory among the Three Kingdoms. Founded in 37 B.C., Goguryeo prospered on a vast area encompassing the northern part of the Korean peninsula and south-central Manchuria. The kingdom expanded its territory in fierce battles against Chinese kingdoms, but fell to an alliance of Silla and Tang forces in 668 A.D.

Silla
One of the ancient states of the Three Kingdoms, Silla originated in the southeastern part of the Korean peninsula. The kingdom lasted for 992 years, from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D. It conquered Baekje and Goguryeo, one after the other, by joining forces with the Tang Empire of China. Following the unification of the Three Kingdoms, the Tang Empire was no longer an ally, but an invader. Hence, Silla joined forces with the people of Goguryeo and Baekje to drive out Tang forces, and founded the first unified state in the history of Korea in the territory south of the Daedonggang River and Wonsanman.

Baekje
One of the three ancient kingdoms, Baekje (18 B.C.- 660 A.D.) was founded by King Onjo, the son of the king of Goguryeo, in the southwestern part of the Korean peninsula. The kingdom witnessed the florescence of the elegant and delicate Baekje culture, which in particular greatly affected Japanese culture. In 660 A.D., Baekje was defeated by the coalition troops of Silla and Tang of China.

The Unified Silla (676-935)
The Unified Silla Kingdom promoted the development of culture and arts, and the popularity of Buddhism reached its peak during this period. The Unified Silla Kingdom declined because of contention for supremacy among the noble classes, and was annexed by Goryeo in 935.

Balhae(698-926)
The Balhae Kingdom began to emerge just as the Goguryeo kingdom was on the verge of collapsing. Goguryeo General, Dae Joyeong founded Balhae along with his army of displaced peoples. At one point, Balhae became so powerful that it was able to acquire territories in northern and eastern parts of China. At those times, the Tang Dynasty of China referred to Balhae as 'the strong country by the sea in the east.' The significance of the Balhae Kingdom is greatly inherited from Goguryeo, including the land that it was able to retrieve.

The Goryeo Dynasty (918 - 1392)
The Goryeo Dynasty was established in 918. Buddhism became the state religion during this time and greatly influenced politics and culture. Famous items produced during this time include Goryeo celadon and the Tripitaka Koreana. Jikjisimgyeong, Buddhist scripture printed with the world's first movable metal type developed in Korea during the Goryeo Dynasty, is at least 78 years older than the first Gutenberg Bible.
The Goryeo Dynasty's strength decreased gradually in the latter half of the 14th century.

The Joseon Dynasty (1392 - 1910)
The Joseon Dynasty was formed at the end of the 14th century. Confucianism became the state ideology and exerted a massive influence over the whole of society. The Joseon Dynasty produced Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, which was invented in 1443, during the reign of King Sejong. The dynasty's power declined later because of foreign invasions, beginning with the Japanese invasion of 1592.

The Japanese Colonial Period (1910 - 1945)
In 1876, the Joseon Dynasty was forced to adopt an open-door policy regarding Japan. The Japanese annexation of Korea concluded in 1910, and Korean people had to suffer under Japanese colonial rule until the surrender of Japan in 1945, which ended World War II.

Establishment of the Korean Government (1945-1948)
Korea was liberated from Japanese oppression on August 15, 1945, but it soon faced the tragic division of North and South along the 38th parallel. Both regions were placed under temporary military rule by the U.S. and Soviet armies. In 1948 with the help of the United Nations, South Korea held an election on May 10th and elected Dr. Rhee Syngman president. On August 15th of that same year, an official declaration was made about the birth of the South Korean government. On the other hand, North Korea formed the Provisional Peoples Committee for North Korea, led by Kim Il-sung, in February 1946. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was officially founded.

The Korean War (1950-1953)
In the early hours of June 25th, 1950, North Korea attempted a forcible unification of North and South Korea by invading South Korea over the 38th parallel. In response, military help from over 16 nations helped defend South Korea against the threat of communism under the leadership of UN General Douglas MacArthur. China and the Soviet Union lent their military might to North Korea. The war continued over the next 3 years until coming to an end on July 27th 1953, with a peace agreement signed at Panmunjeom, located in the DMZ. Not only did the war ravage the peninsula, it also heightened hostile sentiments between the North and South, making reunification a difficult task.

The Aftermath of War (1954-Current)
The Rhee Syngman government focused on an anti-communist approach to government beginning in 1954, but in 1960 the government's power collapsed with the student's anti-government movement, the 4.19 Revolution. In 1963, Park Chung-hee was elected president and ruled with a controversial iron fist for the next 17 years. President Park Chung-hee's 'Saemaeul Undong' (New Community Movement, an effort to modernize Korea that began in 1970) brought about much progress in South Korea, and the systematic approach to economic development also yielded increased exports and positive returns. But with the democratic movement in progress and the citizens becoming wary of such extended rule, Park Chung-hee's life ended in a 1979 assassination. Afterwards in 1980, Chun Doo-hwan came to power and continued to lead the nation with an authoritarian slant as had been the case with former rulers. His rule came to an end in 1987 after massive protests across the country demanded democracy. In 1988 the Roh Tae-woo government started off the year on a good note by successfully hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics. His government went on to join the UN in 1991. The Kim Young-sam government which began in 1993 implemented a new system in which people were required to use their real names when making financial transactions, a much needed revolution at the time. In 1998, Kim Dae-jung was elected president and threw his efforts into overcoming the IMF financial catastrophe that hit Asia in 1997, and also hosted the 17th FIFA World Cup in 2002. President Kim Dae-jung was also the winner of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for his Sunshine Policy regarding North Korea. President Rho Moo-hyun's term began in 2003 aiming, to achieve economic growth, and develop Korea as the hub of Asia with a more democratic style of leadership.

On the other hand, North Korea has been ruled by Kim Jeong-il since the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994. Faced with dire economic situations, North Korea has begun to implement partial free trade in an effort to remedy the situation.

North and South Korea jointly signed an agreement on July 4th, 1972 concerning the reunification of the two Koreas, and in 2000 Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jeong-il took early steps to explore reunification, improving the economy, and solving the problem of separated families. The family reunification program, started in 1985, and continues to this day. In 1998, South Korean citizens began to be admitted into North Korea to tour the Geumgangsan Diamond Mountains.

Religion in Korea

Overview

Many of the world's major religions are active in Korea. Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism have all played an important role in the countrys early development, and Christianity has gained widespread popularity since its introduction 200 years ago. The entire nation is roughly divided as follows: Protestants (18.6%), Catholics (7%), Buddhists (26.3%), Confucianists (0.7%) and Shamanist/Chondogyo/Other (1.1%). Although many Koreans practice one official religion, most have adopted principles from all forms of religion.

Shamanism

Shamanism, an early Korean religion still permeates much of todays Korean culture. Korean shamanism includes the worship of thousands of spirits and demons that are believed to dwell in every object in the natural world. The shaman (mudang) is an intermediary who can link the living with the spiritual world, where the dead reside. The shaman is considered capable of averting bad luck, curing sickness and assuring a successful passage from this world to the next. The introduction of more sophisticated religions did not result in the abandonment of shamanistic beliefs and practices, but rather Shamanism has remained an
underlying religion of the Korean people as well as a vital aspect of their culture. Throughout the countryside, Shaman spirit posts with bright cloths are still used to repel evil spirits or placate gods of nature.

Shamanistic Rituals
Located in the southwestern part of Korea, Jindo Island is steeped in shaman culture, which still influences the lifestyle today. The ssitgimgut, a shaman exorcism ritual specific to the area, prays for a dead person easy passage to paradise utilizing song and dance. The best time to see Jindo Island is during the Jindo Yeongdeung Festival, known to many as the Moses Miracle. The festival is held in conjunction with an unusual sea-parting phenomenon that happens when the tide drops nearly 25 feet. The strong tide parts the sea between Jindo and Modo islands, and forms a 130-foot-wide, 2.8 mile-long natural land
bridge. Thousands of visitors from around the world walk along the sea floor, collecting kelp, clams and octopus off the ocean floor. The festival features many folk events based in shamanistic tradition, including the ssitgimgut, Namdo Deullorae (a spirit-cleansing shaman rite), and Manga (funeral songs).

Buddhism

Buddhism is Koreas largest religion with more than 10 million members. It is estimated that Buddhism was formally introduced into Korea in 372, with the first temple established shortly thereafter in 375. The religion exerted powerful influence during the Baekje Kingdom, was adopted as a state religion during the Silla period, and continued to grow in popularity during the Goryeo Kingdom. Confucianism became the state religion during the Joseon Dynasty and Buddhism was officially banned, forcing many of its clergy into hiding in
remote mountain areas. Buddhism has exercised a far-reaching influence on Korean culture throughout its history, and the Buddhist heritage still exists in the countrys buildings, sculptures, paintings and temples.

Confucianism

Confucianism, a system of ethics rather than a formal religion, was introduced during the 4th century from China. When it came into contact with fundamental Korean sentiment, Confucianism brought about profound changes and exerted considerable influence on the Korean people. Confucianism enjoyed its heyday during the Joseon Dynasty, when scholarship and philosophy became highly valued. Confucianism deeply permeates the consciousness of the Korean people and can still be seen today in many forms, such as the Jongmyo Jerye, a royal ancestral service and Seokjeon Daeje, a worship rite in honor of Confucius.

Christianity

Unknown in the peninsula before the 18th century, Koreans were first introduced to Christianity through Jesuits in China. Protestant missionaries started coming to South Korea and established numerous hospitals and colleges. Because Christianity challenged the basic values of the Joseon society, Christian believers were subject to persecution in the early years. Eventually, as Christians took an increasingly active role in the anti-colonial struggle against the Japanese and churches promoted more educational opportunities, Christianity gained acceptance. Today Korean churches evangelize abroad, and approximately twenty
five percent of the Korean population is Christian. Many of the worlds largest churches are in Korea (including Yoido Full Gospel Church, reputed to be the worlds largest with a congregation of 700,000 members.)

Advice
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Plan your travel and exchange money carefully.
2. After exchanging your money, check the money and exchange rate with a calculator.
3. When you exchange your traveler's checks, you need to sign your name in the presence of a bank teller.
    Don't transfer your checks to another person.