Once known as the “Hermit Kingdom”, South Korea is still one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous countries in the world. The culture, manner of dress, cuisine, and language of the Republic of Korea have all historically been unique from its neighboring countries.
A great deal of U.S. interaction and influence over the last several decades has resulting in modern Seoul looking very similar to many industrialized cities found in the Western world. Though modern Koreans come from all walks of life and a variety of religious or non-religious backgrounds, several characteristics of Confucianism such as filial piety (respect for elders and ancestors), loyalty, diligence, modesty, and sincerity still remain very significant in Korean society today and are common practices. A high regard for education, dedication to family, observance of traditions, and hard work are just a few of the factors that have contributed to the economic, cultural, and political successes of modern South Korea.