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Koreans are largely ethnically homogenous and have their own form of writing called Hangeul.. Born with Mongolian spots, Koreans are believed to be descendants of several Mongol tribes that migrated to the Korean Peninsula from Central Asia.

[Jeondong Catholic Church (left) & Bulguksa Temple [UNESCO World Heritage]
in Gyeongju (right)]
In ancient times, Koreans believed in shamanism, a primitive form of religion that has deep roots in folk beliefs. With the introduction of Buddhism to the Goguryeo Kingdom in 372 A.D., Buddhism began to flourish in Korea. As a result there are many old Buddhist buildings and sculptures located throughout the Korean Peninsula. Some of the most well-known include Haeinsa Temple, which houses the Tripitaka Koreana (a collection of Buddhist scriptures carved on over 80,000 woodblocks; UNESCO’s Memory of the World), Seokguram Grotto (UNESCO World Heritage), and Bulguksa Temple (UNESCO World Heritage) in Gyeongju.

Christianity’s spread first reached Korea around the 18th century and the number of Christians has rapidly increased since then. In modern times, Christianity is the most prevalent religion in Korea with the Korean population being 26.3% Christian, 23.2% Buddhist, 1.3% other, and 49.3% non-religious. (Courtesy of Doosan Encyclopedia Doopedia)

[Photos of Korean celebrities displayed inside the Tourist Information Center of Korea Tourism Organization]
The most notable Korean figures in 2013 are Park Geun-hye, Korea’s first female president, Psy, who became a world-wide celebrity thanks to his song “Gangnam Style”, and Kim Yuna, who won gold medals at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2013 World Figure Skating Championships with her unrivaled figure skating skills.

Also, the recent Hallyu (Korean Wave or the popularity of Korean pop culture) boom has helped popularize K-Pop stars such as Girls’ Generation, and SHINee, and actors like Kim Su-hyeon, and Song Joong-ki, but these are just a few of the many Korean celebrities who are gaining immense popularity around the world.
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Last updated in June, 2013

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