chapter  2
16 Pages


South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea, occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula, as shown in Figure 2-1. It is approxi-mately 300 miles long and 185 miles wide and covers a land mass of 39,000 square miles, about the size of the state of Indiana. Its coastline is 819 miles long; its highest point, Mount Halla on Cheju Island, is 6,398 feet high. Beijing, China, is 500 miles to the west, and Japan is 150 miles to the southeast. Its only land boundary is with the Communist-led Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the north. Almost 80 percent of Korea consists of rugged mountains, leaving only 20 percent of the land to be used for agriculture and living. This difficult terrain has helped Koreans defend themselves throughout their history from various invaders and has helped preserve traditional Korean culture. At the same time, this uninviting landscape has made both commerce and agriculture very difficult. The Koreans have always had to struggle to survive.