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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Seoul Definition

(Wikipedia) - Seoul "Seul" redirects here. For other uses, see Seul (disambiguation). For other uses, see Seoul (disambiguation). Seoul 서울시 Seoul Special City 서울특별시   transcription(s)  • Hangul  • Hanja  • Revised Romanization  • McCune–Reischauer Country Region Districts Government  • Type  • Mayor  • Council  • National Representation  - National Assembly Area  • Special city Population (December 31, 2013)  • Special city  • Density  • Metro  • Demonym  • Dialect Bird Color Flower Font Mascot Slogan Song Tree Website
Special city
Seoul Teukbyeolsi
Sŏul T''ŭkpyŏlsi
Sights in Seoul (clockwise from top): Gwanghwamun Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace; statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin; statue at the War Memorial of Korea; food storage jars at Gyeonbokgung Palace; Jongmyo Shrine; Myeongdong Cathedral; statue of King Sejong the Great; and (center) N Seoul Tower.
Flag Seal of Seoul
Map of South Korea with Seoul highlighted
Coordinates: 37°34′0″N 126°58′41″E / 37.56667°N 126.97806°E / 37.56667; 126.97806Coordinates: 37°34′0″N 126°58′41″E / 37.56667°N 126.97806°E / 37.56667; 126.97806
 South Korea
Seoul National Capital Area
  • Dobong District
  • Dongdaemun District
  • Dongjak District
  • Eunpyeong District
  • Gangbuk District
  • Gangdong District
  • Gangnam District
  • Gangseo District
  • Geumcheon District
  • Guro District
  • Gwanak District
  • Gwangjin District
  • Jongno District
  • Jung District
  • Jungnang District
  • Mapo District
  • Nowon District
  • Seocho District
  • Seodaemun District
  • Seongbuk District
  • Seongdong District
  • Songpa District
  • Yangcheon District
  • Yeongdeungpo District
  • Yongsan District
Seoul Metropolitan Government Mayor-Council
Park Won-soon (NPAD)
Seoul Metropolitan Council
48 / 30016.0% (total seats)48 / 24619.5% (constituency seats)List
  • Dobong 1st district In Jae Keun (DUP)
  • Dobong 2nd district Yoo Ihn-tae (DUP)
  • Dongdaemun 1st district Ahn Gyu Baek (DUP)
  • Dongdaemun 2nd district Min Byung Doo (DUP)
  • Dongjak 1st district Jun Byung-Hun (DUP)
  • Dongjak 2nd district Chung Mong Joon (Saenuri)
  • Eunpyeong 1st district Lee Mi Kyung (DUP)
  • Eunpyeong 2nd district Lee Jae Oh (Saenuri)
  • Gangbuk 1st district Oh Young-Sik (DUP)
  • Gangbuk 2nd district You Dae Woon (DUP)
  • Gangdong 1st district Shin Dong-Woo (Saenuri)
  • Gangdong 2nd district Shim Jae Kwon (DUP)
  • Gangnam 1st district Shim Yoon Joe (Saenuri)
  • Gangnam 2nd district Kim Jong Hoon (Saenuri)
  • Gangseo 1st district Shin Ki-Nam (DUP)
  • Gangseo 2nd district Kim Sung Tae (Saenuri)
  • Geumcheon district Rhee Mok Hee (DUP)
  • Guro 1st district Lee In-Young (DUP)
  • Guro 2nd district Park Young-Sun (DUP)
  • Gwanak 1st district Yoo Ki Hong (DUP)
  • Gwanak 2nd district Lee Sang Kyu (UPP)
  • Gwangjin 1st district Kim Han Gil (DUP)
  • Gwangjin 2nd district Choo Mi Ae (DUP)
  • Jongno district Chung Sye-Kyun (DUP)
  • Jung district Chyung Hojoon (DUP)
  • Jungnang 1st district Seo Young Kyo (DUP)
  • Jungnang 2nd district Park Hong Keun (DUP)
  • Mapo 1st district Noh Woong Rae (DUP)
  • Mapo 2nd district Jung Cheong Rae (DUP)
  • Nowon 1st district Lee No Keun (Saenuri)
  • Nowon 2nd district Woo Won-Shik (DUP)
  • Nowon 3rd district Roh Hoe Chan (UPP)
  • Seocho 1st district Kim Hoe Sun (Saenuri)
  • Seocho 2nd district Kang Seoghoon (Saenuri)
  • Seodaemun 1st district Woo Sang Ho (DUP)
  • Seodaemun 2nd district Chung Doo-Un (Saenuri)
  • Seongbuk 1st district You Seung-Hee (DUP)
  • Seongbuk 2nd district Shin Geh-Ryoon (DUP)
  • Seongdong 1st district Choi Jae Cheon (DUP)
  • Seongdong 2nd district Hong Ihk Pyo (DUP)
  • Songpa 1st district Park In-Sook (Saenuri)
  • Songpa 2nd district Yoo Il Ho (Saenuri)
  • Songpa 3rd district Kim Eul Dong (Saenuri)
  • Yangcheon 1st district Kil Jeong Woo (Saenuri)
  • Yangcheon 2nd district Kim Yongtae (Saenuri)
  • Yeongdeungpo 1st district Kim Young Joo (DUP)
  • Yeongdeungpo 2nd district Shin Kyoung Min (DUP)
  • Yongsan district Chin Young (Saenuri)
605.21 km2 (233.67 sq mi)
17,000/km2 (43,000/sq mi)
서울 사람(Seoul saram), 서울시민(Seoul-simin), Seoulite
Korean Magpie
Seoul Red
Seoul fonts(Han River and (Namsan (Seoul)
“함께 만드는 서울, 함께 누리는 서울”(Literally "Seoul We Create Together, Seoul We Enjoy Together")
"서울의 빛"("The Lights of Seoul") – BoA

Seoul (English pronunciation: /soʊl/; Korean:  ( listen)) — officially the Seoul Special City — is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. The Seoul Capital Area, which includes the surrounding Incheon metropolis and Gyeonggi province, is the world''s third largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people, home to over half of South Koreans along with 632,000 international residents.

Situated on the Han River, Seoul''s history stretches back more than 2,000 years when it was founded in 18 BCE by Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. It continued as the capital of Korea under the Joseon Dynasty. The Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul is surrounded by mountains, the tallest being Mt. Bukhan, the world''s most visited national park per square foot. Modern landmarks include the iconic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Lotte World, the world''s second largest indoor theme park, and Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, the world''s longest bridge fountain. The birthplace of K-pop and the Korean Wave, Seoul was voted the world''s most wanted travel destination by Chinese, Japanese and Thai tourists for three consecutive years in 2009–2011 with over 12 million international visitors in 2013, making it East Asia''s most visited city and the world''s 7th biggest earner in tourism.

Today, Seoul is considered a leading and rising global city, resulting from an economic boom called the Miracle on the Han River which transformed it from the ashes of the Korean War to the world''s 4th largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$774 billion in 2012 after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles. A world leading technology hub centered around Gangnam and Digital Media City, it boasts the world''s sixth largest number of Fortune Global 500 multinationals such as Samsung, the world''s largest technology company, as well as LG and Hyundai-Kia. In 2012, the city''s GDP per capita (PPP) of $39,448 was comparable to that of France and Finland. Ranked sixth in the Global Power City Index and seventh in the Global Financial Centres Index, the metropolis exerts a major influence in global affairs as one of the five leading hosts of global conferences.

Among 30 global cities, Seoul ranked joint first in technology readiness by PwC''s Cities of Opportunity report. Seoul Station is the main terminal of the KTX high-speed rail and the Seoul Subway is the world''s largest subway network, considered the world''s best subway by Jalopnik, providing 4G LTE, WiFi and DMB inside subway cars. Seoul is connected via AREX to Incheon International Airport, rated the world''s best airport nine years in a row (2005–2013) by Airports Council International. Lotte World Tower, a 556m (1,824 ft) supertall skyscraper is being built in Seoul to become the OECD''s tallest in 2015 with the world''s tallest observation deck on its 123rd floor. Emporis ranked Seoul''s skyline having the world''s fourth highest visual impact among major cities.

Seoul hosted the 1986 Asian Games, 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit. A UNESCO City of Design, Seoul was named the 2010 World Design Capital.

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
  • 3 Geography
    • 3.1 Climate
  • 4 Administrative districts
  • 5 Demographics
  • 6 Economy
    • 6.1 Manufacturing
    • 6.2 Finance
    • 6.3 Shopping
  • 7 Architecture
    • 7.1 Historical architecture
    • 7.2 Modern architecture
  • 8 Culture
    • 8.1 Technology
    • 8.2 Museums
    • 8.3 Religious monuments
    • 8.4 Festivals
    • 8.5 Parks
  • 9 Sports
    • 9.1 International competition
    • 9.2 Domestic sports clubs
      • 9.2.1 Football
      • 9.2.2 Baseball
      • 9.2.3 Basketball
  • 10 Transportation
    • 10.1 Bus
    • 10.2 Subway
    • 10.3 Train
    • 10.4 Airports
  • 11 Education
    • 11.1 Universities
    • 11.2 Secondary education
  • 12 International relations
    • 12.1 Twin towns — Sister cities
  • 13 See also
  • 14 References
  • 15 External links
    • 15.1 Official sites
    • 15.2 Tourism and living information
      • 15.2.1 Maps
    • 15.3 Photos

Etymology Main article: Names of Seoul

The city has been known in the past by the names Wirye-seong (위례성; 慰禮城, Baekje era), Hanju (한주; 漢州, Silla era), Namgyeong (남경; 南京, Goryeo era), Hanseong (한성; 漢城, Baekje and Joseon era), Hanyang (한양; 漢陽, Joseon era), Gyeongseong (경성; 京城, colonial era). Its current name originated from the Korean word meaning "capital city," which is believed to be derived from the word Seorabeol (서라벌; 徐羅伐), which originally referred to Gyeongju, the capital of Silla.

Unlike most place names in Korea, "Seoul" has no corresponding hanja (Chinese characters used in the Korean language). On January 18, 2005, Seoul government officially changed its official Chinese language name to Shou''er (simplified Chinese: 首尔; traditional Chinese: 首爾; pinyin: shǒu''ěr) from the historic Hanseong (simplified Chinese: 汉城; traditional Chinese: 漢城; pinyin: hànchéng), whose use is still common.

History Main article: History of Seoul See also: Timeline of SeoulDonggwoldo, the landscape painting of ChangdeokgungGyeongbokgungHyangwonjeong, a royal pavilionBlue House

Settlement of the Han River area, where present-day Seoul is located, began around 4000 BC.

Seoul is first recorded as Wiryeseong, the capital of Baekje (founded in 18 BC) in the northeastern Seoul area. There are several city walls remaining in the area that date from this time. Pungnaptoseong, an earthen wall just outside Seoul, is widely believed to have been at the main Wiryeseong site. As the Three Kingdoms competed for this strategic region, control passed from Baekje to Goguryeo in the 5th century, and from Goguryeo to Silla in the 6th century.

In the 11th century Goryeo, which succeeded Unified Silla, built a summer palace in Seoul, which was referred to as the "Southern Capital". It was only from this period that Seoul became a larger settlement.

When Joseon replaced Goryeo, the capital was moved to Seoul (also known as Hanyang and later as Hanseong), where it remained until the fall of the dynasty. The Gyeongbok Palace, built in the 14th century, served as the royal residence until 1592. The other large palace, Changdeokgung, constructed in 1405, served as the main royal palace from 1611 to 1872.

Originally, the city was entirely surrounded by a massive circular stone wall to provide its citizens security from wild animals, thieves and attacks. The city has grown beyond those walls and although the wall no longer stands (except along Bugaksan Mountain (북악산), north of the downtown area), the gates remain near the downtown district of Seoul, including most notably Sungnyemun (commonly known as Namdaemun) and Honginjimun (commonly known as Dongdaemun). During the Joseon dynasty, the gates were opened and closed each day, accompanied by the ringing of large bells at the Bosingak belfry.

Namdaemun street in 1937

In the late 19th century, after hundreds of years of isolation, Seoul opened its gates to foreigners and began to modernize. Seoul became the first city in East Asia to introduce electricity in the royal palace, built by the Edison Illuminating Company and a decade later Seoul also implemented electrical street lights.

Much of the development was due to trade with foreign countries like France and United States. For example, the Seoul Electric Company, Seoul Electric Trolley Company, and Seoul Fresh Spring Water Company were all joint Korean-American owned enterprises. In 1904, an American by the name of Angus Hamilton visited the city and said, "The streets of Seoul are magnificent, spacious, clean, admirably made and well-drained. The narrow, dirty lanes have been widened, gutters have been covered, roadways broadened. Seoul is within measurable distance of becoming the highest, most interesting and cleanest city in the East.”

After the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the Empire of Japan annexed Korea and renamed the city Gyeongseong. Japanese technology was imported, the city walls were removed, some of the gates demolished. Roads became paved and Western-style buildings were constructed. The city was liberated at the end of World War II.

In 1945 the city was officially named Seoul and designated as a special city in 1949.

During the Korean War, Seoul changed hands between the Russian/Chinese-backed North Korean forces and the American-backed South Korean forces several times, leaving the city heavily damaged after the war. The capital was temporarily relocated to Busan. One estimate of the extensive damage states that after the war, at least 191,000 buildings, 55,000 houses, and 1,000 factories lay in ruins. In addition, a flood of refugees had entered Seoul during the war, swelling the population of the city and its metropolitan area to an estimated 1.5 million by 1955.

Following the war, Seoul began to focus on reconstruction and modernization. As Korea''s economy started to grow rapidly from the 1960s, urbanization also accelerated and workers began to move to Seoul and other larger cities. From the 1970s, the size of Seoul administrative area greatly expanded as it annexed a number of towns and villages from several surrounding counties.

According to 2012 census data, the population of the Seoul area makes up around 20% of the total population of South Korea, Seoul has become the economic, political and cultural hub of the country, with several Fortune 500 companies, including Samsung, SK Holdings, Hyundai, POSCO and LG Group headquartered there.

Seoul was the host city of the 1986 Asian Games and 1988 Summer Olympics as well as one of the venues of the Football World Cup 2002.

GeographyHan River

Seoul is in the northwest of South Korea. Seoul proper comprises 605.25 km2, with a radius of approximately 15 km (9 mi), roughly bisected into northern and southern halves by the Han River. The Han River and its surrounding area played an important role in Korean history. The Three Kingdoms of Korea strove to take control of this land, where the river was used as a trade route to China (via the Yellow Sea). The river is no longer actively used for navigation, because its estuary is located at the borders of the two Koreas, with civilian entry barred. The city is bordered by eight mountains, as well as the more level lands of the Han River plain and western areas.

Climate Main article: Climate of Seoul Seoul Climate chart (explanation)
    21   2 −6     25   5 −3     47   10 2     65   18 8     106   23 13     133   27 18     395   29 22     364   30 22     169   26 17     52   20 10     53   12 3     22   4 −3
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Imperial conversion
    0.8   36 21     1   41 27     1.9   50 36     2.6   64 46     4.2   73 55     5.2   81 64     16   84 72     14   86 72     6.7   79 63     2   68 50     2.1   54 37     0.9   39 27
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

Seoul has a humid continental/subtropical transitional climate (Köppen climate classification Dwa/Cwa), with characteristics of both. November–May is more akin to a continental climate while the warmer months are more like a subtropical climate with elements of a tropical wet/dry climate. Summers are generally hot and humid, with the East Asian monsoon taking place from June until September. August, the warmest month, has an average temperature of 22.4 to 29.6 °C (72 to 85 °F) with higher temperatures possible. Winters are often cold to freezing with an average January temperature of −5.9 to 1.5 °C (21.4 to 34.7 °F) and are generally much drier than summers, with an average of 28 days of snow annually. Sometimes, temperatures do drop dramatically to below −10.0 °C (14.0 °F), in odd occasions rarely as low as −15.0 °C (5.0 °F) in the mid winter period between January and February.

Climate data for Seoul (normals 1981–2010, extremes 1913–present) Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year Record high °C (°F) Average high °C (°F) Daily mean °C (°F) Average low °C (°F) Record low °C (°F) Precipitation mm (inches) Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)  % humidity Mean monthly sunshine hours
14.4 (57.9) 18.7 (65.7) 23.8 (74.8) 29.8 (85.6) 34.4 (93.9) 37.2 (99) 38.4 (101.1) 38.2 (100.8) 35.1 (95.2) 30.1 (86.2) 25.9 (78.6) 17.7 (63.9) 38.4 (101.1)
1.5 (34.7) 4.7 (40.5) 10.4 (50.7) 17.8 (64) 23.0 (73.4) 27.1 (80.8) 28.6 (83.5) 29.6 (85.3) 25.8 (78.4) 19.8 (67.6) 11.6 (52.9) 4.3 (39.7) 17.0 (62.6)
−2.4 (27.7) 0.4 (32.7) 5.7 (42.3) 12.5 (54.5) 17.8 (64) 22.2 (72) 24.9 (76.8) 25.7 (78.3) 21.2 (70.2) 14.8 (58.6) 7.2 (45) 0.4 (32.7) 12.5 (54.5)
−5.9 (21.4) −3.4 (25.9) 1.6 (34.9) 7.8 (46) 13.2 (55.8) 18.2 (64.8) 21.9 (71.4) 22.4 (72.3) 17.2 (63) 10.3 (50.5) 3.2 (37.8) −3.2 (26.2) 8.6 (47.5)
−22.5 (−8.5) −19.6 (−3.3) −14.1 (6.6) −4.3 (24.3) 2.4 (36.3) 8.8 (47.8) 12.9 (55.2) 13.5 (56.3) 3.2 (37.8) −5.1 (22.8) −11.9 (10.6) −23.1 (−9.6) −23.1 (−9.6)
20.8 (0.819) 25.0 (0.984) 47.2 (1.858) 64.5 (2.539) 105.9 (4.169) 133.2 (5.244) 394.7 (15.539) 364.2 (14.339) 169.3 (6.665) 51.8 (2.039) 52.5 (2.067) 21.5 (0.846) 1,450.5 (57.106)
6.5 5.8 7.4 7.8 9.0 9.9 16.3 14.6 9.1 6.3 8.7 7.4 108.8
59.8 57.9 57.8 56.2 62.7 68.1 78.3 75.6 69.2 64.0 62.0 60.6 64.4
160.3 163.3 189.0 205.0 213.0 182.0 120.0 152.5 176.2 198.8 153.2 152.6 2,066
Source: Korea Meteorological Administration

Administrative districts Main article: List of districts of SeoulThe old flag of Seoul (1947–1996)Seoul Districts

Seoul is divided into 25 gu (구; 區) (district). The gu vary greatly in area (from 10 to 47 km2) and population (from fewer than 140,000 to 630,000). Songpa has the most people, while Seocho has the largest area. The government of each gu handles many of the functions that are handled by city governments in other jurisdictions. Each gu is divided into "dong" (동; 洞) or neighbourhoods. Some gu have only a few dong while others like Jongno District have a very large number of distinct neighborhoods. Gu of Seoul consist of 423 administrative dongs (행정동) in total. Dong are also sub-divided into 13,787 tong (통; 統), which are further divided into 102,796 ban in total.

  • Dobong District (도봉구; 道峰區)
  • Dongdaemun District (동대문구; 東大門區)
  • Dongjak District (동작구; 銅雀區)
  • Eunpyeong District (은평구; 恩平區)
  • Gangbuk District (강북구; 江北區)
  • Gangdong District (강동구; 江東區)
  • Gangnam District (강남구; 江南區)
  • Gangseo District (강서구; 江西區)
  • Geumcheon District (금천구; 衿川區)
  • Guro District (구로구; 九老區)
  • Gwanak District (관악구; 冠岳區)
  • Gwangjin District (광진구; 廣津區)
  • Jongno District (종로구; 鍾路區)
  • Jung District (중구; 中區)
  • Jungnang District (중랑구; 中浪區)
  • Mapo District (마포구; 麻浦區)
  • Nowon District (노원구; 蘆原區)
  • Seocho District (서초구; 瑞草區)
  • Seodaemun District (서대문구; 西大門區)
  • Seongbuk District (성북구; 城北區)
  • Seongdong District (성동구; 城東區)
  • Songpa District (송파구; 松坡區)
  • Yangcheon District (양천구; 陽川區)
  • Yeongdeungpo District (영등포구; 永登浦區)
  • Yongsan District (용산구; 龍山區)
DemographicsSeoul City Hall

Seoul proper is noted for its population density, which is almost twice that of New York and eight times greater than Rome. Its metropolitan area was the densest in the OECD in Asia in 2012, and second densest worldwide after Paris. Nearly all of Seoul''s residents are Korean, with some small Chinese, Japanese, and expatriate minorities. As of December 2013, the population was 10,14 million, in 2012, it was 10,442,426. As of the end of June 2011, 10.29 million Republic of Korea citizens lived in the city. This was a .24% decrease from the end of 2010. The population of Seoul has been dropping since the early 1990s, the reasons being the high costs of living and an aging population.

The number of foreigners living in Seoul is 255,501 in 2010 according to Seoul officials. As of June 2011, 281,780 foreigners were located in Seoul. Of them, 186,631 foreigners (66%) were Chinese citizens of Korean ancestry. This was an 8.84% increase from the end of 2010 and a 12.85% increase from June 2010. The next largest group was Chinese citizens who are not of Korean ethnicity; 29,901 of them resided in Seoul. The next highest group consisted of the 9,999 United States citizens who were not of Korean ancestry. The next highest group were the Republic of China (Taiwan) citizens, at 8,717.

The two major religions in Seoul are Christianity and Buddhism. Other religions include Korean Shamanism and Confucianism. Seoul is home to the world''s largest Christian congregation, Yoido Full Gospel Church has around 830,000 members.

EconomyLotte World indoor theme park and shopping mallSee also: Economy of South Korea

Seoul is the business and financial hub of South Korea. Although it accounts for only 0.6 percent of the nation''s land area, it generated 21 percent of the country''s GDP in 2006. In 2008 the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index ranked Seoul No.9. The Global Financial Centres Index in 2012 listed Seoul as the 6th financially most competitive city in the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Seoul 15th in the list of "Overall 2025 City Competitiveness" regarding future competitiveness of cities.

ManufacturingSamsung headquarters at Gangnam Station

The traditional, labour-intensive manufacturing industries have been continuously replaced by information technology, electronics and assembly-type of industries, however, food and beverage production, as well as printing and publishing remained among the core industries. Major manufacturers are headquartered in the city, including Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia and SK. Notable food and beverage companies include Jinro, whose soju is the most sold alcoholic drink in the world, beating out Smirnoff vodka; top selling beer producers Hite (merged with Jinro) and Oriental Brewery. It also hosts food giants like Seoul Dairy Cooperative, Nongshim Group and Lotte.

Finance63 Building in Yeouido, the financial center of Seoul

A large concentration of international companies are headquartered in Seoul. The Korea Exchange Bank is also headquartered in the city. Most bank headquarters and the Korea Exchange are located in Yeouido (Yeoui island), which is often called "Korea''s Wall Street" and has been serving as the financial center of the city since the 1980s.

Shopping Main article: Shopping in SeoulD-Cube City shopping mall at Sindorim Station

The largest wholesale and retail market in South Korea, the Dongdaemun Market, is located in Seoul. Myeongdong is a shopping and entertainment area in downtown Seoul with mid- to high-end stores, fashion boutiques and international brand outlets. The nearby Namdaemun Market, named after the Namdaemun Gate, is the oldest continually running market in Seoul. Sinchon is a shopping area that caters mainly to a younger and university student crowd.

Insadong is the cultural art market of Seoul, where traditional and modern Korean artworks, such as paintings, sculptures and calligraphy are sold. Hwanghak-dong Flea Market and Janganpyeong Antique Market also offer antique products. Some shops for local designers have opened in Samcheong-dong, where numerous small art galleries are located. Itaewon caters mainly to foreign tourists and American soldiers based in the city. The Gangnam district is one of the most affluent areas in Seoul and is noted for the fashionable and upscale Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong areas and the COEX Mall. Wholesale markets include Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market and Garak Market. The Yongsan Electronics Market is the largest electronics market in Asia.

Times Square is one of Seoul''s largest shopping malls featuring the CGV Starium, the world''s largest permanent 35 mm cinema screen.

Architecture See also: Architecture of South KoreaSeoul Panorama from NamhansanseongSungnyemun

The traditional heart of Seoul is the old Joseon Dynasty city, now the downtown area, where most palaces, government offices, corporate headquarters, hotels, and traditional markets are located. Cheonggyecheon, a stream that runs from west to east through the valley before emptying into the Han River, was for many years covered with concrete, but was recently restored by an urban revival project in 2005. Jongno street, meaning "Bell Street," has been a principal street and one of the earliest commercial steets of the city, on which one can find Bosingak, a pavilion containing a large bell. The bell signaled the different times of the day and controlled the four major gates to the city. North of downtown is Bukhan Mountain, and to the south is the smaller Namsan. Further south are the old suburbs, Yongsan District and Mapo District. Across the Han River are the newer and wealthier areas of Gangnam District, Seocho District and surrounding neighborhoods.

Historical architectureChangdeokgung, one of the five grand palaces of Korea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Seoul has many historical and cultural landmarks. In Amsa-dong Prehistoric Settlement Site, Gangdong District, neolithic remains were excavated and accidentally discovered by a flood in 1925.

Urban and civil planning was a key concept when Seoul was first designed to serve as a capital in the late 14th century. The Joseon Dynasty built "Five Grand Palaces" in Seoul — Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung — all of which are located in the district of Jongno District and Jung District. Among them, Changdeokgung was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 as an "outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design". The main palace, Gyeongbokgung, underwent a large scale restoration project. The palaces are considered exemplary architecture of the Joseon period. Beside the palaces, Unhyeongung is known for being the royal residence of Regent Daewongun, the father of Emperor Gojong at the end of the Joseon Dynasty.

Deoksugung in autumn

Seoul has been surrounded by walls that were built to regulate visitors from other regions and protect the city in case of an invasion. Pungnap Toseong is a flat earthen wall built at the edge of the Han River which is widely believed to be the site of Wiryeseong. Mongchon Toseong (몽촌토성; 蒙村土城) is another earthen wall built during the Baekje period which is now located inside the Olympic Park. The Fortress Wall of Seoul was built early in the Joseon Dynasty for protection of the city. After many centuries of destruction and rebuilding, approximately 2/3 of the wall remains, as well as six of the original eight gates. These gates include Sungnyemun and Heunginjimun, commonly known as Namdaemun (South Great Gate) and Dongdaemun (East Great Gate). Namdaemun was the oldest wooden gate until a 2008 arson attack, and was re-opened after complete restoration in 2013. Situated near the gates are the traditional markets and largest shopping center, Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market.

There are also many buildings constructed with international styles in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Independence Gate was built in 1897 to inspire an independent spirit. Seoul Station was opened in 1900 as Gyeongseong Station.

Modern architectureLotte World Tower under construction will become the OECD''s tallest skyscraper with the world''s tallest observation deck in 2016.

Various high-rise office buildings and residential buildings, like the Gangnam Finance Center, the Tower Palace, N Seoul Tower and Jongno Tower, dominate the city''s skyline. A series of new high rises are under construction, including the Lotte World Tower, scheduled to be completed by 2016. As of February 2014, the tallest building in the city is the 279m high Three International Finance Center.

The World Trade Center Seoul, located in Gangnam District, hosts various expositions and conferences. Also in Gangnam District is the COEX Mall, a large indoor shopping and entertainment complex. Downstream from Gangnam District is Yeouido, an island that is home to the National Assembly, major broadcasting studios, and a number of large office buildings, as well as the Korea Finance Building and the Yoido Full Gospel Church. The Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, and Lotte World are located in Songpa District, on the south side of the Han River, upstream from Gangnam District. Two new modern landmarks of Seoul are Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the new wave-shaped Seoul City Hall, by Yoo Kerl of iArc.

In 2010 Seoul was designated the World Design Capital for the year.

Culture TechnologyMBC, SBS and YTN offices at Digital Media City.

Seoul has a very technologically advanced infrastructure. It has the world''s highest fibre-optic broadband penetration, resulting in the world''s fastest internet connections with speeds up to 1 Gbps. Seoul provides free Wi-Fi access in outdoor spaces. This 47.7 billion won ($44 million) project will give residents and visitors Internet access at 10,430 parks, streets and other public places by 2015.

Museums Main article: List of museums in SeoulNational Museum of Korea

Seoul is home to 115 museums, including three national and nine official municipal museums. The National Museum of Korea is the most representative of museums in not only Seoul but all of South Korea. Since its establishment in 1945, the museum has built a collection of 220,000 artifacts. In October 2005, the museum moved to a new building in Yongsan Family Park. The National Folk Museum is situated on the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the district of Jongno District and uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the folk history of the Korean people. Bukchon Hanok Village and Namsangol Hanok Village are old residential districts consisting of hanok Korean traditional houses, parks, and museums that allows visitors to experience traditional Korean culture.

The War Memorial, one of nine municipal museums in Seoul, offers visitors an educational and emotional experience of various wars in which Korea was involved, including Korean War themes. The Seodaemun Prison is a former prison built during the Japanese occupation, and is currently used as a history museum.

National Folk Museum of Korea.

The Seoul Museum of Art and Ilmin Museum of Art have preserved the appearance of the old building that is visually unique from the neighboring tall, modern buildings. The former is operated by Seoul City Council and sits adjacent to Gyeonghuigung Palace, a Joseon dynasty royal palace. For many Korean film lovers from all over the world, the Korean Film Archive is running the Korean Film Museum and Cinematheque KOFA in its main center located in Digital Media City(DMC), Sangam-dong. The Tteok & Kitchen Utensil Museum and Kimchi Field Museum provide information regarding Korean culinary history.

Religious monumentsMyeongdong CathedralJongmyo Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are also religious buildings that take important roles in Korean society and politics. The Wongudan altar was a sacrificial place where Korean rulers held heavenly rituals since the Three Kingdoms period. Since the Joseon Dynasty adopted Confucianism as its national ideology in the 14th century, the state built many Confucian shrines. The descendants of the Joseon royal family still continue to hold ceremonies to commemorate ancestors at Jongmyo. It is the oldest royal Confucian shrine preserved and the ritual ceremonies continue a tradition established in the 14th century. Munmyo and Dongmyo were built during the same period. Although Buddhism was suppressed by the Joseon state, it has continued its existence. Jogyesa is the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Hwagyesa and Bongeunsa are also major Buddhist temples in Seoul.

The Myeongdong Cathedral is a landmark of the Myeongdong, Jung District and the biggest Catholic church established in 1883. It is a symbol of Catholicism in Korea. It was also a focus for political dissent in the 1980s. In this way the Roman Catholic Church has a very strong influence in Korean society.

There are many Protestant churches in Seoul. The most numerous are Presbyterian, but there are also many Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran churches.


In October 2012 KBS Hall in Seoul hosted major international music festivals – First ABU TV and Radio Song Festivals within frameworks of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union 49th General Assembly. Hi! Seoul Festival is a seasonal cultural festival held four times a year every spring, summer, autumn, and winter in Seoul, South Korea since 2003. It is based on the "Seoul Citizens'' Day" held on every October since 1994 to commemorate the 600 years history of Seoul as the capital of the country. The festival is arranged under the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

Parks Further information: List of parks in SeoulDongdaemun Design Plaza & Park.

Namsan Park offers hiking, recreation and views of the downtown Seoul skyline. The N Seoul Tower is located here. Seoul Olympic Park is located in Songpa District and was built to host the 1988 Summer Olympics. The Wongaksa Pagoda 10 tier pagoda is situated In Tapgol Park, a small public park with an area of 19,599 m2 (210,962 sq ft). Areas around streams serve as public places for relaxation and recreation. Tancheon stream and the nearby area serve as a large park with paths for both walkers and cyclists. Cheonggyecheon, a stream that runs nearly 6 km (4 mi) through downtown Seoul, is popular among both Seoul residents and tourists.

Olympic Park, Seoul.

The Seoul metropolitan area accommodates six major parks, including the Seoul Forest, which opened in mid-2005. The Seoul National Capital Area also contains a green belt aimed at preventing the city from sprawling out into neighboring Gyeonggi Province. These areas are frequently sought after by people looking to escape from urban life on weekends and during vacations.

Seoul is also home to the world''s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World. Other recreation centers include the former Olympic and World Cup stadiums and the City Hall public lawn.

SportsSeoul Olympic Stadium.International competition

Seoul hosted the 1986 and 2014 Asian Games, commonly known as Asiad, 1988 Olympic Games, and Paralympic Games. It also served as one of the host cities of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Seoul World Cup Stadium hosted the opening ceremony and first game of the tournament.

Taekwondo is Korea''s national sport and Seoul is the location of the Kukkiwon, the world headquarters of taekwondo, as well as the World Taekwondo Federation (-).

Domestic sports clubs Football Main article: Football in Seoul

Seoul''s most popular football club is the FC Seoul. This club is one of the most successful football club in Asia. Recently, FC Seoul finished as a runner-up in 2013 AFC Champions League.

  • Men''s football
Tier League Club Home stadium Notes
Top K League Classic FC Seoul Seoul World Cup Stadium
2nd K League Challenge Seoul E-Land FC Seoul Olympic Stadium proposed
4th Challengers League Seoul United Madeul Stadium
Seoul FC Martyrs Gangbuk Public Stadium
Jungnang Chorus Mustang Jungnang Public Ground
  • Women''s football
Tier League Club Home stadium
Top WK-League Seoul Metropolitan Government WFC To be determined

Seoul has three professional baseball clubs under the KBO: One of oldest clubs, Doosan Bears, LG Twins and Nexen Heroes.

  • Seoul SK Knights and Seoul Samsung Thunders.
Transportation Main article: Transportation in SeoulShinbundang Line, a fully driverless metro travelling up to 90km/h.

Seoul features one of the world''s most advanced transportation infrastructures that is constantly under expansion. Its system dates back to the era of the Korean Empire, when the first streetcar lines were laid and a railroad linking Seoul and Incheon was completed. Seoul''s most important streetcar line ran along Jongno until it was replaced by Line 1 of the subway system in the early 1970s. Other notable streets in downtown Seoul include Euljiro, Teheranno, Sejongno, Chungmuro, Yulgongno, and Toegyero. There are nine major subway lines stretching for more than 250 km (155 mi), with one additional line planned. As of 2010, 25% of the population has a commute time of an hour or more.

Bus Main article: Seoul Buses"Peanut Bus", an electric bus, heading to N Seoul Tower at Mt. Namsan.

Seoul''s bus system is operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, with four primary bus configurations available servicing most of the city. Seoul has many large intercity/express bus terminals. These buses connect Seoul with cities throughout South Korea. The Seoul Express Bus Terminal, Central City Terminal and Seoul Nambu Terminal are located in the district of Seocho District. In addition, East Seoul Bus Terminal in Gwangjin District and Sangbong Terminal in Jungnang District operate in the east of the city. To reduce air pollution in the metropolitan area, the municipal government is planning to convert over seven thousand of Seoul''s diesel engine buses to natural gas by 2010.

SubwayYongsan StationMain article: Seoul Metropolitan Subway

Seoul has a comprehensive subway network that interconnects every district of the city and the surrounding areas. With more than 8 million passengers per day, Seoul has the busiest subway system in the world. The Seoul Metropolitan Subway has 19 total lines which serve Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi province, western Gangwon province, and northern Chungnam province. In addition, in order to cope with the various modes of transport, Seoul''s metropolitan government employs several mathematicians to coordinate the subway, bus, and traffic schedules into one timetable. The various lines are run by Korail, Seoul Metro, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation, NeoTrans Co. Ltd., AREX, and Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation.

TrainKTX Sancheon

Seoul is connected to every major city in Korea by rail. Seoul is also linked to most major Korean cities by the KTX high-speed train, which has a normal operation speed of more than 300 km/h (186 mph). Major railroad stations include:

  • Seoul Station, Yongsan District: Gyeongbu line (KTX/Saemaul/Mugunghwa-ho), Gyeongui line (Saemaul/Commuter)
  • Yongsan Station, Yongsan District: Honam line (KTX/Saemaul/Mugunghwa), Jeolla/Janghang lines (Saemaul/Mugunghwa)
  • Yeongdeungpo Station, Yeongdeungpo District: Gyeongbu/Honam/Janghang lines (Saemaul/Mugunghwa)
  • Cheongnyangni Station, Dongdaemun District: Gyeongchun/Jungang/Yeongdong/Taebaek lines (Mugunghwa)
AirportsGimpo International Airport Station

Two international airports serve Seoul. Gimpo International Airport, formerly in Gimpo but annexed to Seoul in 1963, was for many years (since its original construction during the Korean War) the only international airport serving Seoul. Other domestic airports were also built around the time of the war, including Yeouido.

When it opened in March 2001, Incheon International Airport on Yeongjong island in Incheon changed the role of Gimpo Airport significantly. Incheon is now responsible for almost all international flights and some domestic flights, while Gimpo serves only domestic flights with the exception of flights to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Osaka Kansai International Airport, Taipei Songshan Airport in Taipei, Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai, and Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. This has led to a significant drop in flights from Gimpo Airport, though it remains one of South Korea''s busiest airports.

Meanwhile, Incheon International Airport has become, along with Hong Kong, a major transportation center for East Asia.

Incheon and Gimpo are linked to Seoul by highways, and to each other by the Incheon International Airport Railroad, which is also linked to Incheon line #1. Gimpo is also linked by subway (line No. 5 and #9). The Incheon International Airport Railroad, connecting the airport directly to Seoul Station in central Seoul, was recently opened. Shuttle buses also transfer passengers between Incheon and Gimpo airports.

Education Further information: Education in South Korea and List of universities in Seoul UniversitiesSeoul National University

Seoul is home to the majority of South Korea''s most prestigious universities, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Korea University, Sogang University, Sungkyunkwan University, Hanyang University, Chung-Ang University, Dongguk University, Ewha Womans University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Hongik University, Kookmin University, Konkuk University, Kyung Hee University, Sejong University, Seoul National University of Education, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Soongsil University, Sookmyung Women''s University, and the University of Seoul.

Secondary education

Education from grades 1–10 is compulsory. Students spend six years in elementary school, three years in middle school, and three years in high school. Secondary schools generally require that the students wear uniforms. There is an exit exam for graduating from high school and many students proceeding to the university level are required to take the College Scholastic Ability Test that is held every November but they don''t necessarily need to get it.

Seoul is home to various specialized schools, including three science high schools (Hansung Science High School, Sejong Science High School and Seoul Science High School), and six foreign language high schools (Daewon Foreign Language High School, Daeil Foreign Language High School, Ewha Girls'' Foreign Language High School, Hanyoung Foreign Language High School, Myungduk Foreign Language High School and Seoul Foreign Language High School). Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education comprises 235 college-preparatory high schools, 80 vocational schools, 377 middle schools, and 33 special education schools as of 2009.

International relations

Seoul is a member of the Asian Network of Major Cities 21 and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in South Korea Twin towns — Sister cities Seoul has many twin towns and sister cities around the world:

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