The first railway in Korea ran from Incheon to Seoul, a distance of 26 miles (42 km). The first section, from Incheon to Noryangjin on the banks of the Han river opened in 1899; the final section, with a major bridge across the river taking the railway into central Seoul, opened the following year. The line was built to standard gauge (1435 mm), as were most subsequent lines in the southern part of the country.
The South Korean network was disconnected from that of North Korea following the partition of 1945. A connection was officially reopened in 2003, but trains did not run until 2007. Freight traffic was sparse and services ceased in 2008. Despite aspirations, no passenger services used the restored link. Plans were announced in late 2018 to reopen the link, which in addition to allowing trade between the two countries would enable through freight services between South Korea and China. A trial train ran over the link in November of that year.
The first section of a new railway serving cities on the east coast of the country opened in 2016 between Busan and Ilgwang, a distance of 28.5 km. A second section, 44.1 km between Pohang and Yeongdeok, opened in 2018. The 36 km section between Ilgwang and Taehwagang is expected to open in 2019, with the final section of 122.2 km from Yeongdeok to Samcheok due for completion in 2020.
Flag image from CIA World Factbook