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.
South Korea turns down Japanese extradition request over Chinese arsonist
A South Korean court has turned down a Japanese extradition request for a Chinese national who served a 10-month jail sentence for an arson attack on the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
The court said Liu Qiang, 38, should now be sent home to China.
Liu was arrested in January last year for hurling petrol bombs at the Japanese mission which left burn marks on the outer wall but caused no other damage.
Tokyo had sought his extradition in connection with a separate arson attack, that also caused minor damage, at the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo in December 2011.
The shrine in Tokyo is dedicated to 2.5 million Japanese killed in wars, including key war criminals, and is often seen as a symbol of the country's wartime aggression.
Liu told investigators that he attacked the Japanese embassy because he was angry at Tokyo's refusal to deal with the issue of "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese military brothels in the second world war.
He said his late maternal grandmother, who was Korean, was forced into wartime sex slavery in China.
Some 200,000 women from Korea and other countries were drafted to work in Japanese army brothels, according to historians.
Liu's case resulted in a diplomatic tug-of-war between Tokyo and Beijing, with Japan insisting he be extradited for the Yakusuni shrine attack and China arguing for his repatriation.