The Republic of Korea is a nation in East Asia, which up until 1947 was a kingdom. It is part of the so-called "East Asian Bloc" along with China and, at times, Japan, although the Sino-Korean Alliance is a far more appropriate moniker due to traditional Japanese independence, and the dependence of Korea upon their neighbor. The current President of Korea is Lee Myung-Bak, who succeeded the office following the suicide of his predecessor. The primary language is Korean, although there are sizable Japanese and Russian minorities. Buddhism is widely practiced, although Christianity has rapidly been on the rise since Korea opened its borders to Western missionaries in 1849. The country currently has a population of approximately 85,000,000. The capital is at Hansong, and other major cities include Pusan, Inchon, Pyongyang, Kwangju and Taejon.