South Korea is famous for K-pop, delicious Korean foods, ancient temples, and dynamic festivals.
South Korea is famous for K-pop, delicious Korean foods, ancient temples, and dynamic festivals.
South Korea is an eastern Asian country. It is located on the Korean Peninsula, with the Yellow Sea on the west and the Sea of Japan on the east. Additionally on the Korean Peninsula is North Korea, the only country which it shares a land border with. On the other hand, Japan and China share maritime borders with South Korea.
What Is South Korea Famous For?
South Korea is known for its festivals, some of which have been celebrated since the 16th century. Due to its rich history, there are also many traditional buildings such as Buddhist temples and huge palaces. Furthermore, South Korea is famous for its popular national dishes such as kimchi and bibimbap. There are many festivities centered around this such as the Jeonju Food Festival.
History, Culture, And Traditions South Korea Is Known For
Sŏllal is also known as the Lunar New Year. It is one of the most significant traditions that South Korea is famous for, as it signifies new beginnings and hopes.
On the first day of the lunisolar calendar, South Korea has a public holiday. This means that citizens are free to celebrate with their families.
The most important activity that the day is centered around is the commemoration of ancestors. After this, households prepare a large meal with traditional favorites.
A fun fact is that Koreans hide their shoes the day before Sŏllal. This ritual takes place because it is believed that ghosts visit to steal the shoes left laying out. As a result, the shoe owners endure bad luck all year long!
Chusŏk is another popular tradition which South Korea is known for. It is also known as the Harvest Moon Festival, which occurs in mid-August every year.
The purpose of this festival is to celebrate the harvest and practice gratitude. It is the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving Day.
One of the main activities is called talchum, which is a mask dance taking place at festivals. Another tradition is ganggangsullae, a type of dance that is performed in a circle.
Korean popular music, termed K-Pop, is a versatile genre that originates in South Korea. Whilst it includes a variety of styles such as pop, R&B, hip-hop, and jazz, some common themes run.
For example, K-Pop choreography is known to have a fast tempo, predominantly performed in unison. Groups also often wear vibrant, distinct outfits which match the aesthetic of the group.
Blackpink, one of the most prominent girl groups that South Korea is famous for, is known for its dark, edgy clothes.
The Movie Industry (K-Dramas)
Korean television series are informally known as K-dramas. Whilst this division of film has been around since the 1950s, it only began skyrocketing in the early 2000s. This is when an emphasis was put on the entertainment industry and more capital was invested.
One of the most searched K-dramas globally is Squid Games. Although heavily embedded in Korean culture and language, subtitles allowed it to become an international success. The use of streaming sites such as Netflix further helps to make this what South Korea is famous for.
Despite almost half of Koreans identifying as unreligious, Buddhism is one of the most practiced religions. There are estimated to be 20,000 temples.
The largest temple in South Korea is Bongjeongsa, found in Andong. It was built in 672 by Buddhist monks and houses Geungnakjeon, the oldest building in the country. There are an additional 19 buildings within the complex.
Another popular Buddhist temple is Haeinsa Temple, located in Gayasan National Park. It is significant because inside it lies the Tripitaka Koreana, a series of sacred texts carved into the wood.
One of the major tribal festivals is called Yudu. It aims to remove bad spirits through several activities, which are held on the 15th day of the 6th lunar month.
An activity that takes place on Yudu is the sacrifice of the first harvest to God. This offering helps to eliminate bad spirits by demonstrating gratitude.
Another special tradition reserved for the Yudu Festival is when households travel to the nearest streams of water flowing eastwards. By washing their hair, they eradicate the ghosts in their lives.
Lastly, a delicious traditional Korean food of ginseng chicken broth is eaten.
National Liberation Day
National Liberation Day is celebrated in both North and South Korea. It is held every year on August 15th and is a public holiday.
In 1910, Japan conquered Korea and continued to do so for three and a half decades. However, when World War II ended and Japan surrendered, Korea was made independent.
The government of South Korea is known for holding a ceremony, which households gather to watch each year and celebrate.
South Korea is famous for being the country with the highest rates of plastic surgery in the world.
Whilst the western world participates in cosmetic trends to feel more beautiful and accepted, the reasons in Korea differ. It is believed that there is a better chance of employment, therefore many people in the younger generations opt for surgery.
The most frequently done procedures include skin whitening, rhinoplasties, and double eyelid surgeries. In contrast to other countries, the aim is to enhance existing features whilst remaining natural.
Cities And Travel Destinations South Korea Is Known for
The bustling capital city that South Korea is famous for has a variety of sleek malls, modern buildings, and dynamic avenues. On the other hand, it is also known for historical aspects such as temples and palaces.
One of the most significant landmarks in Seoul is the N Seoul Tower, which we will mention later. It is a towering skyscraper with an observation deck and revolving restaurants. Similarly, the Times Square shopping mall is filled to the brim with luxury stores and dining areas.
If you are more interested in historical attractions, royal palaces, such as Gyeongbokgung that were built as early as 1394, are also iconic in Seoul.
Take a trip to the South Korean capital to uncover all the incredible facts about Seoul that makes it such a popular destination.
Busan is the second largest city in South Korea, hence houses several world-renowned attractions.
One of the main things that South Korea is famous for is its temples, several of which are located in Busan. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was constructed in the 14th century by Naong and found next to Haeundae Beach. As a result, it is nicknamed the ‘Temple on the Beach’. This is in contrast to most temples that are built on mountains.
Busan is also famous for its exotic beaches. West of Haeundae Beach is Gwangalli Beach, popular for its golden, fine sand and tropical surroundings.
Suwon-Si is a populated city found south of Seoul, and is the capital of the province.
It is famous predominantly for its ancient buildings, such as 18th fortresses. An example of this is the Hwaseong Fortress from the Joseon Dynasty, built by King Jeongjo. It was constructed to hold the remains of Crown Prince Jangheon, King Jeongio’s father.
Surrounded by the fortress is Hwaseong Palace, built for protection against attacks during the war. This historic site is especially magical to visit during the festival season, as there is music, dancing, and traditional foods.
Amongst all of the cities that South Korea is famous for, Gyeongju has the richest history. It was the capital of Silla, a powerful kingdom ruling over Korea from 57 BC for almost one thousand years.
Nowadays, Gyeongju is known for its temples such as Bulguksa temple, which houses six national treasures of Korea such as pagodas, crowns, and paintings.
Donggung Palace is another great example of an ancient building that was constructed in 679. It is located within Wolji Pond, a stunning artificial water body.
Jeju, the largest island in South Korea, is famous for its tranquil beach resorts and delicious seafood. It is located in the Korea Strait, meaning that it sits in three different seas. These are the East China Sea, Japan Sea, and Yellow Sea.
Hyeopjae Beach is undoubtedly the most famous attraction on the island. It is a stretch of white sand and graceful turquoise waters, creating a peaceful environment. This is the perfect getaway from the chaotic capital city!
Jeonju is considered to be the food capital of South Korea. It is famous for its delicious street foods, as well as the food festivals centered around them.
For example, the Jeonju Bibimbap festival in Hanok Village is held annually at the beginning of October. Several foods are offered in addition to bibimbap, a mixed rice, meat, and vegetable dish. This is often considered the national meal of Korea!
Andong is a cultural city in the northern part of the country.
South Korea is known for a variety of festivals, one of which is the Andong Folk Festival. This is held annually every October, which celebrates the Harvest Moon; this is the first full moon and signals prosperity. Contests, games, and dances take place during the 10-day festival.
In addition, Andong is known for capturing the ‘Korean Spirit’. This is because of its well-preserved monuments, educational museums, and traditional villages.
Landmarks And Architecture South Korea Is Known For
Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul is one of the most famous things in South Korea in terms of history. Its name is derived from the words for ‘brilliance and fortune’, which it hoped to bring to its residents.
Built in the 14th century, it was once the residence of the royal Joseon dynasty, which was the last kingdom of Korea before being replaced by the Korean Empire, controlled by Japan.
It remains a colossal structure, despite its age, with over 7,000 rooms. This makes it the largest of the five royal palaces.
N Seoul Tower
The N Seoul Tower is a 236-meter observation point and communications building. There are many things to do across its four stories.
The main attraction is the restaurants, one of which is revolving, and emanates a luxury dining experience. Additionally, on the top floor, there is a lookout deck that gives a panoramic view of the surroundings.
A fun fact about South Korea is that often, they avoid the fourth floor, as the number four has a similar sound to the word for death. As a result, the floors are 1, 2, 3, and 5!
The N Seoul Tower is one of the best landmarks for couples that South Korea is famous for. This is because of the ‘padlocks of love’ which are chained to the railing in front of the tower.
The Bulguska Temple is found on Mount Toham, in Gyeongju City. It is made up of a complex of buildings that are split into three categories: Birojeon, Daeungjeon, and Geungnakjeon. These mean the hall of Vairocana Buddha, Great Enlightenment, and Supreme Bliss respectively.
It is a cherished Korean landmark because it houses six of the national treasures of South Korea. These include two stone pagodas, two bronze statues of the Buddha, and the Chengun-gyo bridge. The latter is claimed to connect the human and Buddhist worlds.
Deoksugung is a beautiful palace in downtown Seoul.
Although royal palaces are what is South Korea famous for, Deoksugung was not initially royal! Instead, it was the residence of King Wolsan, who was related to the Joseon Dynasty. After the Imjin War destroyed many homes, the royal family used Deoksugung as their haven.
Nowadays, the Deoksugung is easily accessible and a great attraction to visit. It differs from other royal palaces in that it is surrounded by modern buildings in a bustling part of the capital, making it easy to reach.
National Museum Of Korea
The National Museum of Korea houses over 310,000 pieces, which rotate over time. However, 12,000 of these works are found in the permanent exhibit hall, which can be seen at any time.
The museum holds many historical artifacts of Korea which have been around since the Palaeolithic Era onwards. The most famous piece is regarded to be the Gold Crown which was excavated from the Cheonmachong tumulus, belonging presumably to a king of the time.
Another famous piece is Inwang Jesaekdo by Jeong Seon, a landscape painting of Inwangsan Mountain.
The DMZ, known also as the Korean Demilitarised Zone, is one of the most eminent landmarks that South Korea is famous for. Ironically, it is heavily militarized, as it is the 250-meter land that divides North and South Korea.
Althouthate DMZ is not open to the public, the JSA (Joint Security Area) is the only strip that is accessible to people. This is located in Panmunjom, and tours are available. Here, you can learn about the history of Korea with a guide, and explore memorials and the infiltration tunnels.
Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak
Sunrise Peak, known as Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak to the locals, is a tuff cone formed over 5,000 years ago. It was created due to magma from volcanic eruptions, that originated under the sea. The ash from this created a jagged cone, hence creating Sunrise Peak.
The peak is popular not only because of its interesting formation but also due to the view from the top. The hiking trail is 20 minutes, and from its tip, you can see Hallasan Mountain and Udo Island.
Taejongdae Resort Park
In Busan, you can find the beautiful national park that South Korea is famous for Taejongdae.
The main attraction here is the cliffs, which were formed due to erosion after a union of rocks. This dates back to the Cretaceous Era. As a result, the geological formations overlooking the sea are unique and distinct, making for a memorable trip to Korea!
Also at the national park, you can find religious monuments such as the Gumyeongsa Temple, an Observation Deck overlooking surrounding islands, and expansive forests filled with nature.
Food South Korea Is Known For
When wondering what is South Korea famous for, the answer is almost definitely their kimchi. This is their best-known dish, often served as a side or eaten alone as a snack.
Essentially, kimchi is simply a fermented vegetable. The vegetable, often but not limited to cabbage, is thinly sliced, salted, and then added to water. Optional vegetables to add include carrots and radishes. This can ferment for one to six weeks; the longer it sits, the better.
It is often considered a rather healthy dish rich in fiber and minerals. And you will see this side served at almost every restaurant, it’s a staple.
Bibimbap is mixed rice, meat, and vegetable dish which uses simple ingredients to create an explosion of flavors. Hence, it is one of the national dishes that South Korea is famous for.
The rice, which ‘bap’ refers to, is the main ingredient of bibimbap. Often, it is white rice seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, as well as a traditional red pepper paste called gochujang. Popular vegetables to add include carrots, peppers, bean sprouts, and zucchini. This is all topped with marinated beef.
Once served, everything is mixed, which translates to ‘bibim’. Then the meal is finally ready to eat!
Korean Fried Chicken
Korean fried chicken is simply chicken breast fried in oil and coated with a delicious glaze. The coating is crispy and delicate, which differentiates it from the heavily-battered American fried chicken.
The reason for the lightness of the chicken is the scarce use of flour and batter. Little amounts are used not only to create a light crunch but also to provide a healthier alternative.
Whilst South Korea is famous for its use of spices, Korean fried chicken is usually only seasoned with soy sauce and brown sugar. Nonetheless, they are incredibly tasty and literally finger licking good.
Korean fried chicken is great for any occasion but particularly popular at sports games like baseball, while paired with a refreshing cold beer. Sinful? Yes, but oh so good.
Red Rice Cakes
Red rice cakes, known as tteokbokki, are spicy cylinder-shaped sides made of glutinous rice. This gives it a chewy consistency.
The rice is rolled and boiled, before being glazed with a thick paste which gives it its characteristic red color. The paste consists of red bean paste, chilies, soy sauce, and sugar.
Traditionally, red rice cakes are cooked alongside dishes such as kimchi stews or added to bibimbap. While you can find this in restaurants, tteokbokki is an extremely popular Korean street food and snack.
Bulgogi is also known as barbequed or grilled meat. Frequently, beef is used, such as sirloin steak and ribeye. However, pork is an alternative for those who prefer it.
The most essential step of bulgogi is marinating the meat before it is cooked. The mixture varies between households however staple ingredients include soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and sugar. This combination gives a sweet yet tangy flavor to the meat.
After this sits for at least a few hours, the meat is finely-sliced and barbequed.
Sundubu jjigae is a wholesome Korean stew that is an ideal quick dinner for cold nights, which is made in large portions to feed the entire family.
It is often made as a pork dish with tofu, however, variations such as haemul sundubu jjigae include seafood too.
To the tofu and meat, we add a broth, usually anchovy, and let simmer. Once it is almost cooked, you can add scallions, enoki mushrooms, and kimchi. The dish is seasoned with the classic gochujang red pepper paste which South Korea is known for, as well as soy sauce.
Sikhye is a non-alcoholic beverage made from sweet rice. This drink in South Korea is famous for aiding digestion, which is why it is popular after large meals.
Traditionally, malt is fermented and added to cooked rice and mixed with sugar. It can be eaten plain, however, tastes much better with added flavorings. This frequently includes pine nuts, shaved ice, and more.
Famous People From South Korea
Yuna Kim is a former figure skater. She is widely recognized for breaking an array of records, such as being the first figure skater from South Korea to win a multitude of awards. This includes a gold medal in the 2006 ISU Grand Prix, as well as the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Kim is famous for her speed, agility, and perfectionism when it comes to skating techniques. In addition to this, she is famous for her triple jump combinations such as the triple Lutz-triple toe loop, considered the most difficult jump in figure skating.
As we mentioned, South Korea is famous for its series known as ‘K-dramas’.
Kim Hyun-Joong is a prominent actor who has starred in several dramas such as ‘Boys Over Flowers’, a 2009 series about a poor girl who goes to a wealthy school. He has also played in ‘Playful Kiss’, another high school comedy.
In addition to acting, Kim Hyun-Joong is a singer who has released both Korean and Japanese songs. He has toured the world, playing his albums.
In addition to K-dramas, South Korea is famous for K-pop. One of the most established boy groups is Exo, made up of nine members. This includes Xiumin, Suho, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, and Sehun, who are famous as both parts of the group and as individuals.
Exo was formed in 2008, and their first album ‘XOXO’ was released in 2013 and made up of eight tracks. The most acknowledged song on their debut album, called ‘Wolf’, won them their first award. They also won the Album of the Year in the MAMA awards and more.
One of the main things which South Korea is famous for is its impressive football team. Son Heung-Min is the captain of the national team and plays as a forward.
Heung-Min has played for South Korea since 2010, and assisted or scored over one hundred times.
Additionally, Heung-Min has played for the Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs. His initial contract was for €30 million, which broke the record for any Asian player in history.
Song Hye-Kyo is one of the most prominent actresses which South Korea is known for. This is probably because of her fluency in a multitude of languages such as Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, and English. As a result, her success has been international.
One of her first and most recognized works includes the role of Yoon Eun-suh in the K-Drama ‘Autumn In The Heart’, where she plays the part of a main character, who has been switched at birth.
As well as acting, Hye-Kyo is famous for her activism. She is a consistent advocate for KARA, a South Korean charity for animals.
Discovering More Things South Korea Is Known For
South Korea is famous for its ancient temples, delicious foods, and dynamic festivals. These are all cultural elements that have been rooted in the country for centuries.
Alternatively, South Korea is also a widely-recognized country for its modern features. For example, K-Dramas and K-Pop have developed and expanded internationally, helping to educate on Korean culture.