South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea (ROK) (Korean: 대한민국, IPA: [tɛː.han.min.ɡuk̚], listen ) is an East Asian state on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. To the north, it is bordered by North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), with which it was united until 1945. To the west, across the Yellow Sea, lies China and to the southeast, across the Korea Strait, lies Japan. Approximately one-half of South Korea's population lives in or near the capital Seoul, the country's largest city. Seoul is one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world.
Korea traces its founding to 2333 BC by Dangun Wanggeom. Archaeological research shows that Koreans occupied the peninsula since the Lower Paleolithic period. Korea's history has been turbulent throughout. Since the establishment of the modern republic in 1948, South Korea struggled with the aftermath of Japanese occupation (1910-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and decades of authoritarian governments, undergoing five major constitutional changes. While the government officially embraced Western-style democracy from its founding, presidential elections suffered from rampant irregularities. It was not until 1987 that direct and fair presidential elections were held, largely prompted by popular demonstrations, and South Korea has been a multi-party democracy since that time.
The South Korean economy has advanced rapidly since the 1950s and is now the 12th largest (nominal value) economy in the world. South Korea is also among the world's most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries; it has the fourth highest number and proportion of broadband Internet users among the OECD countries and is a global leader in electronics, digital displays, semiconductor devices, and mobile phones. South Korea also leads the world in the shipbuilding industry, headed by prominent companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries. South Korea exported ships to the value of 15.09 billion USD in 2004 and is currently the world leader in shipbuilding.