Education About Asia: Online Archives

Korea: Traditional and Modern Culture in Pictures

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In South Korea, traditional and modern culture appears in unexpected and beautiful juxtapositions. A short walk in Seoul treats you to traditional Korean music, beautiful temples and palaces, and a cutting-edge display of B-Boy dancing. Museums hold exhibitions of Western art that would be the envy of any Western city, and Korean cities teem with small and large Korean art galleries of all kinds.

In Asia, Hallyu (Korean Wave) has already pushed Korean culture into China, Taiwan, Japan, and other countries. Now, in the twenty-first century, Korean culture is poised to assume a much higher profile in the West.

Korea identifies six “Hans” that are important Korean cultural heritages for internationalization: Hangul (Alphabet), Hansik (Food), Hanbok (Clothing), Hanok (Traditional Housing), Hanja (Chinese Characters), and Hanguk-Eumak (Music). These are the main themes of Korean culture that embody Korean spirit.

South Korea has a culture of deep spiritual beliefs. Of nearly fifty million people, twelve million are Christian; an equal number are Buddhist. Beneath this, most Koreans are influenced by Shamanism and Confucian philosophy. Korean literature (Hangul and Hanja used together) has been a powerful force of stability and rebellion and seems destined to earn a Nobel Prize soon. Art exists everywhere and each turn of a rural road might reveal a local museum or literary center. Education is a cultural core and the literacy and education levels of South Korea have aided in creating the “Miracle on the Han.”

Korean culture is thousands of years old and still evolving!