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.
Chinese fisherman's 23-year sentence upheld by Seoul court
The Supreme Court of South Korea has rejected an appeal by prosecutors and upheld the 23-year prison sentence for a Chinese fisherman who killed a Korean coastguard last year.
The court did not accept prosecutors' arguments that Cheng Dawei should receive a longer sentence for stabbing the coastguard and seriously injuring another officer during a boarding in the Yellow Sea in December.
"It's the final verdict," said Chen's lawyer, Hu Xianpang. "This case is closed."
The scuffle broke out after the coastguard - carrying batons and rubber-bullet-firing guns - boarded Cheng's fishing vessel inside South Korea's exclusive economic zone in the Yellow Sea. The skipper attacked corporal Lee Cheong-ho with a knife and seriously injured another officer.
It was the second time Chinese fishermen had killed a South Korean coastguard officer in less than four years.
Prosecutors charged Cheng with murder and sought the death penalty at his initial trial in Incheon. The court convicted him and handed down a sentence of 30 years, but Beijing refused to accept the verdict.
His sentence was reduced to 23 years after a second trial before the Seoul High Court in September, the decision upheld yesterday by the Supreme Court.