We asked you five questions about Korea. Here come the answers!
- How does Korea’s hangul writing system differ from Chinese or Japanese characters?
It’s alphabetic. It was designed by King Sejong the Great, completed in about January 1444 and was intended to improve literacy among his subjects. It was said that a wise man could learn it in a morning and even a stupid man could learn it in ten days.
- K-Pop singer Psy won the Internet in 2014 when his catchy 2012 song “Gangnam Style” broke YouTube’s counter. Who or what is Gangnam?
It’s a suburb of Seoul, south of the Han river (“gangnam” literally means “south of the river”). It has a reputation for being wealthy and classy – Psy compared it to Beverly Hills.
- Which Korean former career diplomat succeeded Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 2007 to 2016?
Ban Ki-moon. Born in 1944, he joined the Korean diplomatic service in 1970. After a first posting to New Delhi, he had several assignments including to the United States and United Nations. He was appointed Foreign Minister in 2004 and, from 2006, used his official visits effectively to lobby for his candidature for the top UN job.
- Chronologically, what do Koreans have in common with racehorses?
They add a year to their age on 1 January each year, not on the date of their birth. However, Koreans traditionally consider time spent in the womb as the first year of life – so a child born on 31 December would be considered to be two years old on 1 January.
- What are modern Korean chopsticks usually made of?
Stainless steel. They also differ from chopsticks elsewhere in that they have a rectangular cross-section rather than a round one. They’re usually accompanied by a spoon, in a set known as a sujeo – but it’s considered rude to use both spoon and chopsticks at the same time, or to lay the spoon to the right of the chopsticks.
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