Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a huge metropolis where modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture meet Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets. Notable attractions include futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a convention hall with curving architecture and a rooftop park; Gyeongbokgung Palace, which once had more than 7,000 rooms; and Jogyesa Temple, site of ancient locust and pine trees. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a city that has an official history of 600 years. It is famous for many reasons. It is considered the historical center of the country, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The city was previously called Hanyang and Gyeongseongbu, and then renamed Seoul in 1945, when it was freed from Japanese occupation.
Data and facts
- Seoul is a huge city that is home to more than 10 million people. It ranks second to Tokyo in population density. The 23 million inhabitants of the greater metropolitan area amount to about half the population of the country.
- In 2014, Seoul was the world's 4th largest metropolitan economy with a GDP of US$635 billion after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles.
- In the late 19th century, after hundreds of years of isolation, Seoul opened its gates to foreigners and began to modernize.
- Seoul is considered to have the best Internet infrastructure and connections in the world, with widespread cellphone coverage and Internet cafes throughout the metropolis.
- Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
- In 18 BC, the kingdom of Baekje founded its capital city, Wiryeseong, which is believed to be inside modern-day Seoul.
- Changdeokgung Palace is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal palaces in South Korea. Construction of Changdeok Palace began in 1405, and was completed in 1412. The Palace was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and reconstructed in 1609 by King Seonjo and King Gwanghaegun.
- Lotte World is a major recreation complex in Seoul. It consists of the world’s largest indoor theme park, an outdoor amusement park called “Magic Island”, an artificial island inside a lake linked by monorail, shopping malls, a luxury hotel, a Korean folk museum, sports facilities, and movie theaters. Opened on July 12, 1989, Lotte World receives 7.3 million visitors each year.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government is a local government of Seoul, South Korea. The mayor is elected to a four-year term by the Seoul citizens and is responsible for the administration of the city government. Seoul Metropolitan Government deals with administrative affairs as the capital city of South Korea, so it is more centralized than that of most other cities with the city government being responsible for correctional institutions, public education, libraries, public safety, recreational facilities, sanitation, water supply, and welfare services.
In the city government, there are 5 offices, 32 bureaus, and 107 divisions. The headquarters is located in the Seoul City Hall building which is in Taepyeongno, Jung-gu, Seoul. The Government started on September 28, 1946 as the Seoul City Government which became Seoul Metropolitan Government on August 15, 1949. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has one mayor and three vice mayors, two of them take charge of administrative affairs and the other for political affairs. Seoul is subdivided into 25 autonomous gu and 522 administrative dong.
Seoul is the business and financial hub of South Korea. Although it accounts for only 0.6 percent of the nation's land area, 48.3 percent of South Korea's bank deposits were held in Seoul in 2003, and the city generated 23 percent of the country's GDP overall in 2012. In 2008 the Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index ranked Seoul No.9. The Global Financial Centres Index in 2015 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.
South Korea has a very advanced and modern infrastructure, which has been expanding since the 1960s. Both the South Korean government and the private sector are involved in the financing, construction, and operation of various infrastructure projects and services. Over the first 20 years of the 21st century, the government will spend more than US$300 billion on airports, roads, railways, and mega-resorts. Additionally, it will spend US$60 billion on the construction of more than 100 new power-generation facilities.
South Korea has an extensive and well-kept system of roads. In 1998, it boasted 64,808 kilometers (40,272 miles) of paved roads, including 1,996 kilometers (1,240 miles) of expressways, and 22,182 kilometers (13,784 miles) of unpaved roads. There are several major north-south and east-west highways, but the growing number of vehicles in use puts heavy pressure on the land transport network. The number of private cars rose from fewer than 500,000 in the early 1980s to 7.581 million in 1999 when there were also 2.1 million trucks and 749,000 buses in use. To deal with the growing pressure on roads, the South Korean government has initiated a multibillion dollar project to expand the highways. Land transportation also includes regular train and bus services around the country. The railways consist of 6,240 kilometers (3,878 miles) of standard gauge tracks of which 525 kilometers (326 miles) are electrified.
Seoul is one of the most connected and technologically innovative cities on Earth. There are places all over the city to check out the newest offerings from Korea’s tech giants such as Samsung and LG, and media installations incorporating state-of-art information technology are common. Especially futuristic ICT (Information, Communication, and Technology) experiences at locations such as the Digital Pavilion (under construction) and Samsung D’light are intriguing and futuristic.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
There are six years of primary school, three years of lower secondary school and three years of upper secondary school, which is either academic or vocational.
Apart from Western-style hospitals, there is also a wide range of Eastern medicine hospitals that cater to those who wish to relieve their symptoms through more holistic practices such as acupuncture. Many of the universities in Seoul have hospitals attached and there are a number of private clinics as well. Some of the most reputable hospitals in Seoul include: Asan Medical Center, Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine, Gangnam St Mary’s Hospital, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul National University Hospital, and Severance Hospital.
Seoul, South Korea is a vibrant and exciting city, one that deftly combines ancient history with ultra-modern design and technology. The city is filled with a wide range of tourist attractions of all types, from outdoor adventures like exploring Mount Namsan and its surrounding park to indoor fun like visiting one of Seoul's many museums. Seoul is also a city of palaces, with five huge palace complexes located throughout the city and now restored to their former glory. Of course it's also known for its food, with a mouthwatering array of street food, Korean specialties like barbecue, and fine-dining options.
- National Assembly