South Korea is a place of dazzling cities, friendly people and beautiful countryside. The wars and Japanese occupation of last century shattered the country’s long period of dynastic rule. The difficult times made the Koreans a resilient lot, succeeding economically whilst still holding on to their unique traditions and fascinating culture. Korea is littered with fortresses, temples and palaces, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites. In addition, the peninsula it shares with North Korea is one of the most mountainous regions in the world, and has a significant beach-dotted coastline.
Seoul has been the capital of Korea for about 600 years. It was known as Han Yang during the Joseon Dynasty, but after the liberation from Japan, in 1945, the newly founded Republic of Korea officially changed its capital city’s name to Seoul. The Han River runs through the heart of the city dividing it in two; the northern part being the focal point for culture and history, while the southern part is well known for its business district. Seoul has hosted many international events including the 1986 Asian Games, the 1988 Olympic Games and in 2002 the Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup.
Formosa – a beautiful island of mountains, national parks, hot springs and scenic coastlines. During its long history, prehistoric people, aborigines, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Han Chinese have all successively populated the island now known as Taiwan, creating a varied culture and developing different local customs and traditions along the way.
These various cultures found their artistic expression in unique architecture, wood carvings, pottery and ceramics. Taiwan is also custodian to a fine collection of Chinese Arts. The National Palace Museum in Taipei holds the essence of five thousand years of Chinese history. Throughout Taiwan the Chinese way of life has been maintained in a modern and democratic society.