The 5,000 years of Korean history and culture, and the Korean people's indomitable spirit in the struggle for national freedom have produced a society renowned not only for its kindness and generosity of spirit but also for the high educational standards of its citizens.
    Religious freedom is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. Of the 300 or so registered religions, Buddhism and Confucianism were dominant in the past, and have shaped both the way of life and the attitudes of Koreans since the Three Kingdoms Period. Christianity has developed a vast following since its introduction in the late 18th century, and its influence is now being felt throughout society.
    Koreans have great concern for education and illiteracy is almost non-existent. Children begin their six years of elementary school at the age of six. After three years of middle school and three years of high school, students may advance to university for four years of higher education. There are national examinations for entrance to high school and university, and 30% of high school graduates manage to gain admission to universities. The entrance exams are extremely rigorous, and the fierce competition for places is sometimes referred to as "The admissions war." Today's parents are placing more attention on early education for their children and the preschool educational system is growing rapidly to meet this need.
    As Korea prepares to host the 2000 ASEM Conference and co-host the 2002 World Cup, the goverment, in conjunction with the tourism industry, has made strenuous efforts to improve the standards of tourism. This policy has extended not only to upgrading facilities, but also to changing the mindset of the workers in the service industry, and to raising the English language standards amongst the general public. The long heritage and inspiring scenery of Korean impress all visitors with their uniqueness and charm.