Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, is the heart of Korea's culture and education as well as the heart of political life and the economy.
It is located in the western center of the Korean peninsula. With the Han River running across the city and magnificent and splendid mountains surrounding it, it is indeed the center of the peninsula, boastful of scenery rivaling that of any city in the world.
Northeast’s Business Center
Seoul is a business center of Northeast Asia and acts as a hub for business in the region and for the global market and distribution based on a highly efficient finance and distribution system, highly competitive advanced digital industry and knowledge industry, and excellent traffic system from the airports to high-speed rail, motor-way, and port facilities.
Seoul is embracing the cultural heritages of Korea with five well-preserved ancient palaces and 5 World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO. There is no exaggeration to say that Seoul, the most traditional but Modern city, which makes it definitely attractive to the visitors from overseas.
Global City and Hallyu
Seoul now stands among the top global cities taking a leading position in technology and engineering-related industries with its modern infrastructure and high levels of connectivity. Seoul has been advancing not only in the field of technology and engineering but also in the field of culture. For example, Hallyu, which refers to the increase in popularity of Korean culture around the world, has been expanded nationwide. Ranging in genres for K-pop to the larger Hallyu entertainment business and culture, its cultural influence has been expanded to Asia and the World.
Seoul is served by two international airports. Incheon International Airport is the main airport located just 30 miles from Seoul while Gimpo International Airport is just 40 minutes away. A modern 12 line subway system connects every corner of Seoul and has signs, maps and announcements in English. Together with the bus lane system, implemented to prevent traffic congestion, and taxis with free interpretation service all combine to make getting around Seoul simple and economical.
- Fares can be paid by cash or transportation card. One-time boarding charges a flat-rate fare where you can pay by cash or transportation card.
- Seoul city buses offer a free ride for a maximum of 3 children under the age of 6 so long as they are accompanied by a guardian.
- Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Incheon buses and metropolitan subways are under the Metropolitan Integrated Fare System, so they charge a basic fare up to 10km. Using Seoul metropolitan buses, Gyeonggi-do general buses, non-stop deluxe buses, Incheon buses and red buses for more than one transfer will cost a basic rate up to 30km, and you will be charged an extra 100 won for each additional 5 km (based on the adult fare).
- The Seoul Global Center (SGC) launched by the Seoul Metropolitan Government operates a 24-hour Medical Referral Service (MRS) for foreign nationals.
- Medically trained, English-speaking staff provide information and recommendations on medical facilities and services. The MRS team has striven to provide quality medical information by regularly visiting medical facilities that offer medical services to foreigners. The team constantly seeks to make improvements by collecting feedback form foreign nationals.
- Seoul is an exciting city where day or night you have 24-hour access to various leisure and entertainment spots. Seoul attracts many famous performers year-round and provides a great variety of performances be it art, music, dance or theater. To top it all off after a show, you can still enjoy shopping or a soothing massage and spa treatment, providing a unique Seoul experience.
The population of Seoul, when it was established as the capital of the Chosŏn dynasty in the 14th century, was about 100,000. It doubled in size by the 17th century, then remained stable until the end of the 19th century. It grew steadily from the beginning of the 20th century and reached 900,000 by the end of World War II (1945). After the war, many Koreans who had been living abroad came back to Korea; the majority of them settled in Seoul, as did millions of refugees from the north during and immediately after the Korean War. By 1960 some 2.5 million people were living in Seoul. With rapid urbanization beginning in the 1970s, the city drew migrants from throughout the country, and the population reached some 10 million in 1990. Since then the population has stagnated; new towns and satellite cities around Seoul have drawn some of the metropolitan area’s growth. The population is made up almost entirely of Korean citizens, who are almost all ethnically Korean. Foreign residents constitute a small but appreciable fraction of the populace; they are not concentrated in any particular areas but are distributed across the city.
The king of unified Korea, King Yi Song-Gye, brought his court — replete with shrines, palaces, hundreds of thousands of workers, and a heavily fortified wall — to modern-day Seoul in 1394.
In the late 19th century, after hundreds of years of isolation, Seoul opened its gates to foreigners and began to modernize.
A troubled period started in Korean history in 1910, and Korea and the city of Seoul were under colonial rule in the following 35 years witnessing the risk of the Korean culture fading away. Korea survived and emerged to independence with the Republic of Korea established in 1948. During the Korean war, Seoul experienced warfare four times, only to become the main capital again in 1953. Since that moment, Seoul has been growing rapidly and continuously.
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 to the world’s 4th largest metropolitan economy in 2017.
Attractions in Seoul
Hailed as Seoul’s most popular attraction, Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 by King Taejo. It is the largest and most striking of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon dynasty, housing more than 300 buildings, the National Folk Museum, and the National Palace Museum.
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.
N Seoul Tower
The N Seoul Tower is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. At 236.7 meters (777 feet), it marks the second-highest point in Seoul. Built-in 1971, the N Seoul Tower is South Korea’s first general radio wave tower, providing TV and radio broadcasting in Seoul. The tower is renowned as a national landmark, and for its cityscape.
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.
Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village occupies the hilly neighborhood between Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace in north-central Seoul. The neighborhood has the largest collection of privately owned hanoks, or traditional Korean homes with tiled roofs and stone floors, in Seoul. Not only that, but these 900 hanoks dates all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty. While a stroll through Bukchon Village may feel like a trip through the ages, the neighborhood is not frozen in time. Some of the hanoks are still private homes. However, others have been converted into tea houses, cafes, art galleries, inns and museums.
Dongdaemun Market, located in Seoul, is Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district with more than 30,000 fashion shops and 50,000 manufacturers opened for 24-hours a day. The market sells all types of goods but notably silks and fabric, clothes, shoes and leather goods, sporting goods, plumbing and electronics, office supplies, fortune tellers, toys and food areas specialising in Korean cuisine. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza with a distinctively Neo-futuristic design is the centerpiece of the shopping district.
Gwangjang market is one of the oldest and largest traditional street markets in South Korea, with more than 5000 shops and 20,000 employees in an area of 42,000 square meters (450,000 square feet). The market is also known as Seoul’s largest food alley with some 200 stalls set up among kimchi and fresh seafood vendors.