KOREA – A DESCRIPTION OF THE TERRITORY
OF THE "HERMIT NATION"
Korea, a peninsula 600 miles long, separates the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay on the West from the Sea of Japan on the East. The peninsula is bounded on the South by the Korea Strait, while on the North its land shares boundaries with China (500 miles) and with Russia (11 miles). These boundaries are mainly marked by the Yalu and the Tumen Rivers. Largely mountainous, the Korean Peninsula includes a series of mountain ranges, the highest of which extends along the east coast, rising to a height of 9,003 feet at Mount Paektu, the highest mountain in Korea. The Korean rivers (usually short in length) are mostly unnavigable, being filled with rapids and waterfalls. In addition to the Yalu and Tumen Rivers, the most important are the Han, the Kum, the Taedong, the Nakton, and the Somjin.
Korea’s coastline is heavily indented, being approximately 5,400 miles long. More than 3,420 islands lie along this coastline, many of which are rocky and uninhabited. Of the islands which are inhabited, about half have populations of less than 100. Chief among the island groups is the Korean archipelago, rising out of the Yellow Sea.
In climate, Korea ranges from extremely cold winters which are usual in the North to the tropical conditions common to parts of its southern areas.
At one time highly wooded, Korea is now forested mainly in its northern area. Predominant among these forests are larch, oak, alder, pine, spruce, and fir trees. Although many trees were destroyed during the Korean War (1950-1953), some forested areas do also remain in the west central area of South Korea. Recently, the South Korean government has instituted a reforestation program.
The Korean Peninsula possesses great mineral wealth, most of which is concentrated in the North. Of its major minerals (gold, iron ore, coal, tungsten, and graphite) only tungsten and graphite are found in large measure in the South. Furthermore, South Korea has only about 10% of the coal and iron deposits found in the peninsula. North Korea is, however, rich in iron and coal and also has some 200 different kinds of minerals of economic value.
The mountainous areas of Korea constitute most of the peninsula, with only approximately 20% of the land being arable. On the arable lands, rice is the chief crop. As a matter of fact, the wet paddies upon which rice is grown constitute at least half of the farmable land on the entire peninsula.
The raising of livestock plays a minor role in Korean agriculture. Although many chickens and rabbits are raised, very little red meat is eaten by Koreans, with fish of all kinds remaining the most important source of protein in their diets. The fishing waters off the coasts of Korea are excellent and the catch highly varied: cuttlefish, anchovy, yellow corvina, hairtail, saury, pollack, flatfish, cod, sandfish, herring, and mackerel. Octopus and shrimp are also caught and much seaweed is harvested.