Which Countries are Most Similar to South Korea?

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Have you ever wondered how similar or different two countries are? The Country Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar countries are to each other relative to other countries. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. The index weights equally five major aspects of countries: their demographics, culture, politics, technology, and geography. In addition each aspect was roughly balanced evenly between quantity/percentage and quality/type. See this post for a full explanation: https://objectivelists.home.blog/2020/05/30/country-similarity-index/

Similar to Japan and Taiwan

Very few countries are similar to South Korea. The closest two would be their neighbors, Japan and Taiwan. They are well developed, democratic East Asian countries that border the North Pacific Ocean. North Korea, while having huge similarities in culture, especially linguistically, also has huge differences especially in technology and politics.  Outside of the countries closest in proximity, European countries are the most similar, but still have huge differences as well.

Top 10 Places Most Similar to South Korea

  1. Japan annexed South Korea in 1910 and occupied the country until the end of World War II. The demographics and geography of these countries are significantly similar. Both also share similar sports culture, being most interested in baseball and soccer, while also excelling in the Olympics. However, Korea is more westernized. It has a large percentage of Christians. Furthermore, most Korean males are circumcised, unlike in Japan.
  2. Taiwan was another protectorate of Japan until the end of World War II. South Korea and Taiwan are densely-populated mountainous lands whose agriculture is primarily rice, although Taiwan is more tropical. In addition, the countries have a similar standard of living.
  3. North Korea is the only other country that speaks Korean and uses its unique writing system, Hangul. However, there are huge political and technological differences between South Korea and North Korea. While South Korea is a two-party democracy, North Korea is a one-party authoritarian dictatorship. In addition, North Korea is far poorer and has less developed infrastructure.
  4. China has had a great cultural influence on South Korea due to its proximity. In addition, both countries are not especially religious, but they do practice the same school of Buddhism. However, South Korea also has a significant population of Christians. In addition, South Korea is more developed than China and their languages are completely different.
  5. France is the only European country in the top 5, although it has a similar score to other European countries, since they generally have a similar standard of living and climate. France does have a distant connection to South Korea, since its missionaries helped bring Christianity to the country. Unlike Japan, South Korea adopted standard Continental European infrastructure since they drive on the right, use the standard railroad gauge, and have Type C electrical outlets with a similar voltage.
  6. Slovenia, 7. Poland, 8. Germany, 9. Bulgaria, 10. Netherlands

Top 10 Places Least Similar to South Korea

  1. Somalia is an anarchic, Muslim country in Africa with poorly developed infrastructure. It has a hot dry climate in contrast to South Korea’s wetter and cooler climate.
  2. Yemen is located across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It is another conservative Muslim country that, unlike other countries on the Arabian Peninsula, is poorly developed. Its government is also anarchic.
  3. Sudan is located in the Sahara Desert. It is another conservative Muslim country, like the first two on the list. It recently lost some territory to the newly formed country of South Sudan.
  4. Niger has the youngest population in the world. It also has one of the highest birthrates in the world. South Korea is on the opposite end of the spectrum in these statistics. Furthermore, Niger is a landlocked, sparsely populated desert country, in contrast to South Korea.
  5. South Sudan is a newly formed African country that has little infrastructure. Both countries did split from their Northern neighbor. However, its geography bears little resemblance to South Korea, since it is rural, landlocked, and relatively flat. 
  6. Burundi, 7. Chad, 8. Mauritania, 9. Lesotho, 10. Uganda

    Full Ranking of Countries and Territories Most Similar to South Korea

Do you agree with the list?
Please leave any thoughts in the comments section.


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