Over 70% of the land is mountainous with the eastern regions consisting of mainly rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys. Many people enjoy hiking in the foothills and mountains. Most of the larger rivers and forests are located in the west. The coastline is dotted with bays and it has some of the highest tides in the world. The eastern coastline has many sandy beaches, while the western side consists mainly of mud flats and rocky shores.
Food and Drink
Rice is the staple of the Korean diet and appears at almost all meals. A typical meal includes rice, some type of soup to wash down the rice, sometimes a main dish of meat or pork or poultry, and various side dishes. Kimchi, the most common group of side dishes, includes various vegetables (cabbage, radishes, and various roots) fermented with spices (garlic, red pepper, and ginger). Korea produces several types of grain alcohol, most notably soju. Nowadays, many people eat more and more Western, Japanese, and Chinese food, with pizza becoming more popular than kimchi among the younger generation.
As in many Asian countries, Korea uses both the solar and lunar calendars, and celebrates holidays based on both. The country uses one time zone and is 9 hours ahead of GMT, the same as Japan. Most Koreans work Monday through Friday and then a half day on Saturday mornings. Usual business hours are 9:00-6:00 during the week and 9:00-1:00 on Saturday. During national holidays, government offices and most businesses are closed, although many private store keepers and large department stores may remain open. The major exceptions occur during the 3-day holidays for the Lunar New Year (Seol-nal) and Harvest Moon Festival (Chuseok) when just about everything shuts down except public transportation.
In Korean culture, education is the key to success in life. The school one graduates from can determine whether one will be a success or failure. To many Korean parents, the education of their children outweighs all other considerations, and they will make tremendous sacrifices to let their children get the best education possible.
The Korean education system consists of six years of primary school, three years of middle school, then three years of high school. Those who pass the national exam go on to 4-year colleges or universities. Others go to 2-year junior colleges, while the rest enter the work force. Until recently, most middle and high schools were segregated by sex. However, because of complaints about differences in education levels between the boys and girls schools and socialization problems later in life, most schools have gone co-ed.
The Korean language belongs to the Ural-Altic family of languages which also includes Turkish and Mongolian. Although the language contains many words derived from Chinese and printed media still use Chinese ideograp