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 Park Geun-hye. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea.
Shim Moon-kyu posthumously cleared of spying
Agence France-Presse in Seoul
A South Korean court has posthumously acquitted a man executed 50 years ago on spying charges, deeming he had been wrongfully convicted of acting as a double agent for North Korea.
Shim Moon-kyu, a South Korean trained by Seoul as a spy, was secretly sent to the communist North in 1955 where he was captured, re-trained as a double-agent and sent back to Seoul two years later.
On his return, he immediately turned himself in to the authorities, but was still charged with working as a double agent and eventually executed in 1961.
According to the Yonhap news agency, the court found no clear evidence to support the original verdict that Shim had ever actually operated as a double agent after being re-trained by Pyongyang.
"This court offers a sincere apology for the judiciary failing to faithfully carry out its duty," Judge Lee Won-bum was quoted as saying.
Members of Shim's family, who had fought to clear his name, burst into tears when the ruling was delivered.
In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a state-run committee set up to investigate human rights violations, ruled that Shim's case had been fabricated and requested a re-trial of his case.