Editor's note: Asian stocks slid following release of China trade data, which showed larger-than-expected slide in imports. Japan stocks fell 0.9%, South Korea's KOSPI down 0.2%, China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.4%, Hong Kong shed 0.4%, Australia's shares dropped 0.8%. - Imana
Upcoming: North Korea will repatriate Joo Won-moon, a South Korean student studying at New York University through the truce village of Panmunjom at 5:30 p.m. local time (0430 a.m. ET), @YonhapNews reports
South Korea ( listen), officially the Republic of Korea (Hangul: 대한민국; hanja: 大韓民國; RR: Daehan Minguk, listen; lit.The Republic of Great Han; ROK), and commonly referred to as Korea, is a sovereign state in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. The name Korea is derived from the ancient Kingdom of Goguryeo, also known as Koryŏ. It shares land borders with North Korea to the north, and oversea borders with Japan to the east and China to the west. Roughly half of the country's 51 million people reside in the Seoul Capital Area, the second largest in the world with over 25 million residents.
Inhabited half a million years ago, the Korean civilization began with Gojoseon, with the earliest Korean pottery dating to 8000 BC. Around 1st century BC, three Korean kingdoms emerged, the largest being Goguryeo that ruled Northeast China, parts of Russia's Primorsky Krai and Inner Mongolia under Gwanggaeto the Great. Since their unification into Silla and Balhae in the 7th century, Korea enjoyed over a millennium of relative tranquility under dynasties lasting for centuries with its trade, culture, literature, science and technology flourishing. Its strategic and central location in East Asia led to annexation by Imperial Japan in 1910, after whose surrender in 1945, Korea was divided into Soviet and U.S. occupation zones, with the latter becoming the Republic of Korea in 1948. An invasion from North Korea in 1950 lead to the Korean War that ended in 1953 with an armistice. Despite minor incidents with the North, peace has since continued with the two agreeing to reunify peacefully and the South dominating inter-Korean politics as a regional power with the world's 10th largest defence budget.
Between 1962 and 1994, South Korea's tiger economy soared at an average of 10% annually, fueled by annual export growth of 20%, in a period called the Miracle on the Han River that rapidly and successfully transformed it into a high-income advanced economy and the world's 11th largest economy by 1995. Today, South Korea is the world's fifth largest exporter and seventh largest importer and member of the G-20 and OECD's Development Assistance Committee. Since the first free election in 1987, South Koreans have enjoyed high civil liberties and one of the world's most developed democracies, with all fundamental rights protected by a highly effective rule of law system that is rated best in East Asia by World Justice Project. Its pop culture has considerable influence in Asia, and is expanding globally as a phenomenon often called the Korean Wave. Due to a recent multicultural policy, immigration to South Korea is rising quickly, with over 220,000 accepted in 2014.
South Korea is East Asia's most developed country in the Human Development Index. Koreans are among the richest in the world, enjoying Asia's highest median income and average wage. It is a top global performer in education, quality of healthcare and ease of doing business. It leads OECD countries in student skills with the highest percentage of young adults holding a tertiary education degree. Driven by high-tech chaebols such as Samsung, the world's largest technology company, Hyundai-Kia and LG, South Korea was named the world's most innovative country in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, ranking first in research and development spent per GDP and patents filed per GDP. It is the world's largest shipbuilder and its advanced ICT sector is the OECD's most value adding, with South Korea having the world's fastest Internet speed, ranking first in e-Government, 4G LTE coverage, IoT devices online and second in ICT Development Index and smartphone usage.