The Korean Peninsula extends about 1,000 km from the Asian continent into the Pacific Ocean with more than 3,000 islands dotting the coastline. Mountains cover almost 70 percent of the land mass, making the country one of the most mountainous regions in the world and offering abundant forest resources. Administratively, Korea consists of nine provinces with 77 small cities and 88 counties.
Beginning in June and ending in August, the Korean summer is hot and humid, with average mean temperatures peaking at 25.7 degrees Celsius in August. The Korean rainy season, or jangma, begins in mid-June and continues for about a month. Compared with some other countries that experience monsoon, however, the rains are not especially heavy, with monthly precipitation peaking at 383 millimeters in July. Green spaces in Seoul such as parks and mountains become especially verdant due to the moisture. Popular summertime activities in Seoul include biking, swimming, in-line skating, and windsurfing on the Hangang River.
Autumn is a lovely time in Seoul. Temperatures start to cool, the sky is high and cobalt blue, and the hillsides are decorated with bright hues of gold and crimson. Seoul’s royal palaces, with their extensive gardens filled with maple, ginkgo, and zelkova trees, are especially colorful and make for perfect fall outings. Many Seoulites take to the mountains to enjoy the colors and bask in the natural beauty. Korean autumn begins in September and ends in November. Chuseok, the Korean harvest celebration, falls in autumn.
The Korean language, like Hungarian, Turkish, Mongolian and Finnish, is classified into the Ural-Altaic language group. Hangeul(한글), the Korean alphabet, is composed of 10 simple vowels and 14 consonants. A group of scholars under the patronage of King Sejong the Great developed this systematic rendition of spoken sound in 1443. It is widely acclaimed by linguists as an ingenious invention. In 2009, the town of Bau Bau in Sulawesi, Indonesia adopted Hangeul as their official written language.
|Seoul, Tokyo (Korea Time)||1:00||4:00||7:00||10:00||13:00||16:00||19:00||22:00|
|Taipei, Manila, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore||24:00||3:00||6:00||9:00||12:00||15:00||18:00||21:00|
|New Delhi, Kolkata||22:00||1:00||4:00||7:00||10:00||13:00||16:00||19:00|
|Tehran, Kuwait, Jeddah||19:00||22:00||1:00||4:00||7:00||10:00||13:00||16:00|
|Hamburg, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam||17:00||20:00||23:00||2:00||5:00||8:00||11:00||14:00|
|Rio de Janeiro, S`ao Paulo||13:00||16:00||19:00||22:00||1:00||4:00||7:00||11:00|
|New York, Montreal, Bogota, Toronto||11:00||14:00||17:00||20:00||23:00||2:00||5:00||8:00|
|Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles||8:00||11:00||14:00||17:00||20:00||23:00||2:00||5:00|
Government office hours are usually from 9:00 to 18:00 on weekdays. Banks are open from 9:00 to 16:00 on weekdays. Most stores are open every day from 10:30 to 20:00, including Sundays.
Service charges are included in your bill for rooms, meals, and other services at hotels and upscale restaurants. Koreans occasionally do tip when they are especially pleased with the service they receive. Foreign tourists can receive nearly 10 % VAT refunds for purchases at Duty Free shops. Goods must be taken out of Korea within three months of purchase to be eligible for a tax refund. Visitors can receive refunds on receipts of minimum purchases of KRW 50,000 (around USD 43). To receive your refund, present receipts with the purchased goods at the customs clearance desk at Incheon International Airport when departing.
The standard electricity supply is 220 volts AC/60 cycles. Most hotels may provide outlet converters for 110 and 220 volts. Participants are recommended to check with the hotel beforehand.