South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (Korean: 대한민국; Hanja: 大韓民國; Daehan Minguk, pronounced [tɛː.ɦan min.ɡuk̚] ; lit. "The United Great Korea"), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and lying east to the Asian mainland. South Koreans lead a distinctive urban lifestyle, with half of them living in high-rises concentrated in the Seoul Capital Area with 25 million residents, the world's fourth largest metropolitan economy.The earliest neolithic Korean pottery dates to 8000 BC, with three kingdoms flourishing in the 1st century BC. The name Korea is derived from one of them, Goguryeo, which was one of the great powers in East Asia during its time, ruling most of the Korean Peninsula, Manchuria, parts of the Russian Far East and Inner Mongolia, under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since the unification of the Korean kingdoms into Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under long-lasting dynasties. Koreans developed advanced innovations such as the Jikji, the world's oldest movable metal type printed book in 1377. By the 15th century, Koreans had the highest living standard in East Asia, and Sejong the Great invented Hangul, enabling anyone to easily learn to read and write rather than spend years learning complicated Hanja. Its rich and vibrant culture left 19 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, the third largest in the world, along with 12 World Heritage Sites. Annexed into Imperial Japan in 1910, the Korean Provisional Government was organized in 1919 to resist the Japanese occupation. After Japan's surrender in 1945, Korea was divided with the United States controlling the southern part, and this region was declared the First Korean Republic on August 15, 1948, but a North Korean invasion led to the Korean War (1950–1953). Peace has since mostly continued with the two agreeing to work peacefully for reunification and the South solidifying peace as a regional power with the world's 10th largest defense budget.
The South Korean tiger economy soared at an annual average of 10% for over 30 years, particularly in the 1980s when it had the fastest rise of income per capita in the world, a period of rapid transformation called the Miracle on the Han River. A long legacy of openness and focus on innovation made it successful. Today, it is the world's most prepared country in intelligent automation technology such as AI and robotics and the fifth largest exporter with the G20's largest budget surplus and highest credit rating in East Asia. It has free trade agreements with 75% of the world economy and is the only G20 nation trading freely with China, the US and the EU simultaneously. Since 1988, its constitution guarantees a liberal democracy with high government transparency and many fundamental rights such as universal healthcare. It is Asia's most advanced democracy upholding the second highest level of press freedom in Asia with the resulting high personal freedoms leading to the rise of a globally influential pop culture such as K-pop and K-drama, a phenomenon called the Korean Wave, known for its distinctive fashionable and trendy style. Home of the UN Green Climate Fund and GGGI, South Korea is a leader in low carbon green growth, committed to helping developing countries as a major DAC and Paris Club contributor.
South Korea is a technologically advanced developed country driven by a highly educated and skilled workforce, having the world's eighth highest median household income, the highest in Asia. Globally, it ranks highly in personal safety, job security, ease of doing business and healthcare quality, with the world's third highest health adjusted life expectancy and fourth most efficient healthcare system. Koreans performed best worldwide in Mathematics, Science and Reading in the 2017 PISA. It is the world's largest spender on R&D per GDP, leading the OECD in graduates in science and engineering. and ranking third in the Youth Wellbeing Index. Home of Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia, South Korea was named the world's most innovative country for 5 consecutive years since 2014 in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in business R&D intensity, patents filed per GDP, second in manufacturing value-added, third in higher education efficiency and fourth in high-tech density and researcher concentration. In 2005, it became the world's first country to fully transition to high-speed Internet and today it has the world's fastest Internet speed with the highest 4G LTE coverage.
The country has 15 scientists who conduct research in the field of Wikipedia Quality.