An independent kingdom under Chinese suzerainty for most of the past millennium, Korea was occupied by Japan in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Japanese rule of Korea ended after World War II in 1945. Korea was occupied by the Soviet Union north of the 38th Parallel and by the United States south of the 38th parallel, but the US and the Soviet Union were unable to agree on implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea. This led in 1948 to the establishment of separate governments in the north and south, each claiming to be the legitimate government over all of Korea.
In June 1950, the Korean War broke out. The United Nations-backed South and the Communist-backed North eventually reached a stalemate and an armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along the demilitarized zone at about the original demarcation line.
After the war, the government of Syngman Rhee was thrown out of power by student uprising and a brief period of civil rule was established in 1960. However, a military coup led by General Park Chung-hee in the next year turned the nation into a dictatorship that lasted 18 years, during which period it achieved rapid economic growth. Park was assassinated in 1979, and General Chun Doo-hwan seized power with another coup. Massive student demonstrations in the spring of 1980 resulted in a military crackdown and the Gwangju Massacre. Civil unrest forced the end of military rule, and progressively democratic reforms continued under the presidencies of Roh Tae-woo, Kim Young-sam, and Kim Dae-jung.
In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place under part of the South"s continuing Sunshine Policy of engagement. Since then, regular contacts have led to a cautious thaw.
Korea forms a peninsula that extends some 1,100 km from the Asian mainland, flanked by the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan (East Sea), and terminated by the Korea Strait and the East China Sea to the south. The southern landscape consists of partially forested mountain ranges to the east, separated by deep, narrow valleys. Densely populated and cultivated coastal plains are found in the west and south. About 3,000 islands, most of which are small and uninhabited, lie off the western and southern coasts. The total area of South Korea is 99,268 sq km.
South Korea is a mountainous country. Lowlands, located primarily in the west and southeast, constitute only 30 percent of the total land area. South Korea can be divided into three general regions: an eastern region of high mountain ranges and narrow coastal plains; a western region of broad coastal plains, river basins, and rolling hills; and a southern region, where a maze of mountains and valleys in the west contrasts with the broad basin of the Nakdong River in the southeast.
Halla-san, an extinct volcano that forms Jeju Island, is the country"s highest point at 1,950m (6,398 ft). Jeju Island is located about 100 km (about 60 mi) off the southern coast of South Korea. It is the country"s largest island, with an area of 1,845 sq km (712 sq mi).
The Republic of Korea is a democratic republic with powers shared between the president and the legislature. The head of state of the Republic of Korea is the president, who is elected by direct popular vote for a single five-year term. In addition to being the highest representative of the republic and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the president has considerable executive powers and appoints the prime minister with approval of parliament, as well as appointing and presiding over the State Council or cabinet.
The unicameral Korean parliament is the National Assembly or Gukhoe, whose members serve a four-year term of office. The legislature currently has 299 seats, of which 243 are elected by regional vote and the remaining is distributed by the proportional representation ballot.
1950年6月，朝鲜战争爆发， 美国支持的南部和共产主义支持的北部最终形成了对峙并且在1953 年达成了停战协议，在原始分界线沿着被解除军事管制的区城将半岛分裂为二。
在战争以后，李承晚（ Syngman Rhee ）政府被学生起义推翻，并且在1960 年建立了一个短期的全民政府。但是， 在第二年在一次由朴 朴正熙(Park Chung-hee)带领的军事行动中，将其变成了专政政府，并且一直持续了18 年。在那期间经济取得了迅速的增长。1979年，朴正熙年被刺杀，全斗焕（Chun Doo-hwan）将军突然发动政变掌握了政权。 1980年春天的学生示威导致了军事镇压和光州（Gwangju）大屠杀。 社会动荡导致了军事制度的灭亡，在卢泰愚（Roh Tae-woo）、李光锡（Kim Young-sam）和金大中（ Kim Dae-jung）的领导下进行了持续的民主改革。
南韩位于朝鲜半岛的南部，该半岛从亚洲大陆延伸约1,100 公里。 西接黄海东临日本海侧，南接南韩海峡和东中国海。南部的地形主要是树木丛生的山脉，山脉一直延续到东部，被极深狭窄的峡谷分隔开来。在西部和南部有人口密集和利于耕种的沿海平原。在西部和南部的沿海的附近大约3,000 个岛屿，其中大多数很小并且无人居住。
南韩是一个多山的国家。低地主要位于西部和东南部， 占了总土地区域的百分之三十。 南韩被划分成三个区域：高山和狭窄的沿海平原的东部区域；宽广的沿海平原以及江河流域和绵延山脉的西部地区；和南部区域，那里山脉和峡谷和西部宽广的Nakdong 河（韩国釜山附近）相对。
Halla san是济州岛（Jeju Island）上的一个绝种火山形成的，它是这个国家的最高峰，高度为1,950m (6，398 英尺) 。济州岛位于南韩南部沿海附近大约 100 公里(大约60 英哩) 的地方。它是南韩最大的海岛，面积是1,845 平方公里(712 平方英哩)。
单一议院的南韩议会是国民大会或甑殒（Gukhoe），成员任期4年。立法机构当前有299 个席位， 其中的243 由地方投票选出，其余的席位是按照比例进行投票选出的。