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South Korea shares its traditional culture with North Korea, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. The South Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism actively encourages the traditional arts, as well as modern forms, through funding and education programs.

Korean art and culture have absorbed influences from many countries; prior to the 19th century, these cultural infusions came primarily from China. Koreans adapted many Chinese art forms with innovation and skill, creating distinctively Korean forms. For many centuries, Korean forms of metalwork, sculpture, painting, and ceramics flourished throughout the Korean peninsula and were then passed on to neighboring countries like Japan. In modern times, Western and particularly the US influences have been strongest. In the aftermath of Japanese occupation all Japanese cultural exports were banned from Korea until 1999. Recently, any outside influences have been particularly controversial; the K-pop singer Hyori sparked a national controversy. In recent times, Korean pop culture has become popular in Asia and beyond, earning the name Hallyu or "Korean Wave." Korean pop culture has also made its way into Japan, with Korean singers like BoA, and television dramas like Daejanggeum and Winter Sonata finding success. Recent Korean films such as Oldboy and Oasis have also received international acclaim.

The contemporary culture of South Korea is heavily dominated by technology, including feature-rich cell phones and pervasive online gaming. South Korea today has the highest penetration of high-speed internet access to households in the world. Digital multimedia broadcasting now allows South Koreans to watch television on their cell phones.

South Korea's entertainment industry has grown substantially since the 1990s, producing Asia-wide successes in music, television, and film in a phenomenon known as the "Korean wave." However, the country still retains centuries-old customs and traditions, such as its unique cuisine and ancestor worship.






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