|South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, is an East Asian state on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was a single country called Korea until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China, and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital and largest city, Seoul, the second largest metropolitan area in the world.
After its founding in 1948, the country has struggled with the aftermath of 35 years of Japanese occupation, the Korean War, and decades of military rule, seeing five major constitutional changes. Pro-democracy demonstrations during the 1980s led to free elections in 1987. South Korea is now a multi-party democracy.
The South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the 1950s and is now the 10th largest (nominal value) economy in the world. South Korea is also one of the world's most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries. It has the second highest number of broadband Internet connections per capita in the world and is a global leader in computer games, digital displays, shipbuilding and mobile phones.
South Korea's entertainment industry has grown explosively since the 1990s, producing Asia-wide successes in music, television, and film in a phenomenon known as Hallyu, or the "Korean wave." However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine and ancestor worship.