GK:1.1.1 Geographical Setting
Geography of Korea: I. Korea's Natural Environment > 1. Geographical Setting and Area > 1) Geographical Setting
1) Geographical Setting
The Korean Peninsula sits between 33–43 degrees north latitude and 124–132 degrees east longitude. Its easternmost point, at 131°52’ east longitude, is the island of Dokdo (or Dongdo), administratively a part of Ulleung-do county, in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do (in South Korea), while its westernmost point, at 124°11’ east longitude, is the island of Maan-do, belonging to Sindo township, Yongcheon county, in the province of Pyeonganbuk-do (in North Korea). Sitting at 33°06’ north latitude, Korea’s southernmost point is the island of Mara-do, part of Daejeong township, Seogwipo city, of the Special Autonomous Province of Jeju Island. The Korean Peninsula’s northernmost point is the village of Pungseo, Yupo township, Onseong county in the province of Hamgyeongbuk-do (in North Korea), which sits at 43°00’ north latitude.
With its geographical positioning in the middle latitudes, Korea experiences four distinct seasons and has both temperate and subarctic climates. Relative to other regions sharing the same latitude, the Korean Peninsula experiences large temperature fluctuations between summer and winter, with distinct spring and autumn seasons. Such climatic characteristics can be attributed to the peninsula’s location, nestled between continental Asia and the Pacific Ocean.
The center of the peninsula sits along the line of 127˚30’ east longitude. In 1954, the Republic of Korea (or South Korea) adopted 127˚30’ east longitude in setting its standard time. Thus, South Korea was 8 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) at the prime meridian. However, Korea’s current standard time of nine hours ahead of GMT was established in 1961, conforming with Japan’s standard time along the line 135˚ east longitude.
The Korean Peninsula has long served as a land bridge connecting Japan with the Asian continent. One result of this geographical positioning has been that the Korean people have since very early times been receptive to cultural and material influences from the Chinese mainland, while also serving as a conduit, passing these influences on to Japan. On the other hand, for Korea it has also meant a long and continuous history of pressures and geopolitical challenges from both directions.