South Korea is a sovereign state in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. With an estimated population of 50 million, it covers a total area 98,480 square kilometres which includes partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys. Its main exports are wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and computers. Korea was one nation under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule. Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 and three years later the country split in two, beginning decades of conflict between North and South. The current president of The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is Lee Myung-bak.
S Korean torches government office, kills himself
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A South Korean man on Sunday set fire to a government office in the capital Seoul before jumping from the 18th floor of the building to his death, an official said.
The 61-year-old man, identified only by his surname Kim, broke into the education ministry office and threw a petrol bomb, a fire brigade spokesman in the capital said, adding that ministry staff managed to put out the fire.
The man, who Yonhap news agency said was believed to be a maintenance worker at the building, was taken to hospital but pronounced dead soon afterwards.
The fire brigade spokesman said the fire had damaged a few chairs, desks and documents, adding that an investigation was under way.
South Korea has one of the world’s highest suicide rates. Government data showed the nation’s 2009 suicide rate was 33.8 people per 100,000 – the highest among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.