The People of
The photo to the right shows one of the more interesting aspects of the population of Korea. It is a typical crowd out for a day of fun at the local zoo in Seoul. Can you see anything different from a typical crowd at a mall in the USA? They are all Koreans -- there are no other ethnic groups present. The populations of both North and South Korea are almost perfectly homogeneous. The last census in South Korea indicated only one other ethnic group, about 20,000 Chinese. That's only twenty thousand out of 45 million! The North Koreans report no other ethnic groups at all. It is no wonder that when American or European soldiers visit the countryside, they attract many children, most of whom have never seen a non-Korean.
Reminders of Korea's past are found everywhere in both North and South Korea. The photo to the left shows a fourteenth century temple on the Kyong-bok Palace grounds in Seoul. The Korean people feel strong ties to their past and to their cultural heritage. Traditional arts of painting, drama, and ceramics are kept alive by both individuals and government support.
Religion has been an important part of Korean life for
more than a millennium. Religious activity is discouraged under the Communists in North
Korea, so about half of the people there are nonreligious. On the other hand, in South
Korea, religious thought and activity permeates much of society. The most prominent
religions in South Korea are Bhuddism, Christianity, Confucianism, and local religions
that combine aspects of all three. The commitment to religious philosophy in society and
government is expressed even in the national flag. This statue of Bhudda is on the
Kyong-bok Palace grounds in Seoul.
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