Surrounded by the Yellow Sea to the west, the East China Sea to the south, and the Sea of Japan to the east, South Korea forms the southern part of the Korean peninsula, just south of its controversial North Korean neighbour after the nation’s sundering in the 1950s Korean War. With a land area of just over 100,000 square kilometres, including 3,300 mostly desert islands, more than 60% of its territory is covered by forest.

Despite the forest cover, and similarly to Japan, South Korea has become one of the world’s high-tech hubs, having birthed conglomerates, called chaebols – literally “wealth cliques” – in the form of Samsung, LG and Hyundai Motor. With most of its wealth coming from manufacturing and services, South Korea was recently classified as the third-largest exporter in Asia after China and Japan, and the seventh worldwide, with top exports including computers, smartphones and cars.

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