Seoul (서울특별시, 서울特別市 - Seoul.special.city) is the capital of the Republic of Korea. It is located along the Han River (한강, 漢江), and is a designated special city. Seoul is located at 37°35´N 127°0´E.
Seoul is located in the northwest of the country, south of the DMZ, and east of the city of Incheon where Incheon International Airport is located. It is about 50-60 minutes from the airport to the centre of Seoul.
At 22,300,000 people, Seoul is the 3rd largest agglomeration (mega-city) in the world.
The traditional heart of Seoul is the old Joseon Dynasty walled city, which is now a downtown area (palaces, government offices, corporate headquarters, hotels and traditional markets are located). The city was surrounded by a fortified, protective wall with 4 gates at the 4 cardinal directions. To the north is Gwanghwamun
(광화문) and the entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace
(경복궁). To the South is Namdaemun
(남대문), whose gate Sungnaemun
(숭례문) was burned down on the Lunar New Year by an arsonist. To the East is Dongdaemun
(동대문) and famous wholesale clothing mega-24/7-markets. To the West is Seodaemun
(서대문), it's gate, Dongnimun
(동리문) now stands there as a testament to independence. This area occupies the valley of Cheonggyecheon
(청계천), a stream that runs from west to east through the valley before emptying into the Han River. For many years the stream had been covered by a huge elevated highway running east-west across the city. This was completely dismantled and restored in 2004. To the north of downtown is Bukhansan
(북한산), and to the south is the smaller Namsan
Further south are the old suburbs of Yongsan-gu and Mapo-gu, and the Han River. Across the Han River are the newer and wealthier areas of Gangnam-gu and surrounding neighbourhoods, such as Apgujeong and Cheongdam-dong. The World Trade Center of Korea is located in Gangnam-gu and this is where many expositions and conferences and other events are held including auto shows, popular not only for the automobiles themselves but the racing girls that accompany them. Also in the same area (Samseong Station) is the COEX mall, a famous indoor mall area. Yeouido is a large island in the middle of the Han River, downstream from Gangnam-gu, and is home to the National Assembly (국회의사당), major broadcasting studios such as KBS and MBC, and a number of large office buildings, as well as the Korea Finance Building and the world's largest Presbyterian church. The Olympic Stadium, Olympic Park, and Lotte World are located in Songpa-gu, on the south side of the Han River, upstream from Gangnam-gu.
Notable buildings in the Seoul skyline include the Korea Finance Building, Namsan Tower, the World Trade Center, the six-skyscraper residence Tower Palace, and I-Park Apartments. These and various high-rise office buildings, like the Star Tower, and Jongro Tower, dominate Seoul's skyline.
Seoul is one of the few areas in Korea that does not have corresponding hanja (Chinese character) to its pronunciation. Since 2005 it has been written in Chinese as 首尔, but this is simply to express its pronunciation in Chinese as close as possible while retaining a meaning the government had decided best expressed the city (首 or shou means neck or head, and implies the leader of something). The other name still often used in China for the city is 汉城 (hancheng), which means "Han Castle." As the new term has not been around for very long there have been a few conflicts online between those who prefer the new name and others that continue to use the old, and is similar to the country of Myanmar that often continues to go by the name Burma. The new term Shouer is accepted by the Chinese government however and is now the official title.
Another old name for Seoul is Hanyang (漢陽), and appears in movies depicting Seoul during the middle ages, such as 왕의 남자.
Districts/wards (구) in Seoul.
Sunrise over a construction site in Gangnam
Subway times for the line 4.
Seoul is divided into 25 gu (區; "wards").
(population figures are for the year 2000)
- Dongdaemun-gu (동대문구; 東大門區)
- Dongdaemun is located in the northeast and is particularly known for its large clothing markets. Population 367,596.
- Dongjak-gu (동작구; 銅雀區)
- Located south of the river, close to Yeouido. Population 414,199.
- Eunpyeong-gu (은평구; 恩平區)
- Located in the far northwest of Seoul. Population 442,604.
- Gangbuk-gu (강북구; 江北區)
- Located in the north part of Seoul, this ward is also a popular place to live. Population 340,765.
- Gangdong-gu (강동구; 江東區)
- Located in the far east part of the city. Population 472,244.
- Gangnam-gu (강남구; 江南區)
- Located south of the river to the east, this is the richest part of the city and one of the three main business districts of the city along with Jongno-gu and Yeoui-do. Population 523,350
- Gangseo-gu (강서구; 江西區)
- Located in the far west part of the city. Population 557,373.
- Geumcheon-gu (금천구; 衿川區)
- Located on the southwest corner of the city, this is one of the smaller wards. Population 256,966.
- Guro-gu (구로구; 九老區)
- Located in the southwest. Passed through by lines 1 and 4 going west to Incheon and south to Ansan. Population 408,386.
- Gwanak-gu (관악구; 冠岳區)
- Located in the south-southwest part of the city, this ward has a large number of mountains and parks. Population 526,971.
- Gwangjin-gu (광진구; 廣津區)
- Jongno-gu (종로구; 鍾路區)
- Located in the north centre of the city, Jongno-gu along with Jung-gu is one of the three main business districts of Seoul along with Gangnam and Yeoui-do. Though the resident population is small (170,118), Jongno-gu is very busy.
- Jung-gu (중구; 中區)
- Jung-gu is located just to the south of Jongno-gu. Population 135,173.
- Jungnang-gu (중랑구; 中浪區)
- Located in the far east north of the river. Seoil University is here. Population 440,863.
- Mapo-gu (마포구; 麻浦區)
- Located on the west side just north of the river, Mapo-gu is a popular destination. Hongdae is located here along with a large number of other universities. Population 367,220.
- Nowon-gu (노원구; 蘆原區)
- Located in the far northwest along the line 4. As line 4 goes directly through such locations as Myeong-dong and Sadang Station near Gangnam, Nowon is less isolated than it may appear on a map. Population 606,394.
- Seocho-gu (서초구; 瑞草區)
- Located right next to Gangnam, this ward is also an expensive and trendy location. Population 400,868.
- Seodaemun-gu (서대문구; 西大門區)
- Located near the centre and a bit to the west, Seodaemun-gu may also be considered as part of Seoul's 'downtown.' Yonsei University is here. Population 351,625.
- Seongbuk-gu (성북구; 城北區)
- Located just northeast of the centre of Seoul. Korea University is here. Population 460,511.
- Seongdong-gu (성동구; 城東區)
- Located just north of Gangnam, across the river. Hanyang University is here. Population 325,251.
- Songpa-gu (송파구; 松坡區)
- Located in the southwest of the city, next to Gangnam. Songpa-gu is a popular location for athletics, and the Olympic Stadium is located here. Population 633,956.
- Yangcheon-gu (양천구; 陽川區)
- Located in the middle west part of Seoul. Population 485,098. Ehwa Womens University is in the northeast part of the ward.
- Yeongdeungpo-gu (영등포구; 永登浦區)
- Located slightly south and west, this is where Yeouido is located. Population 408,819.
- Yongsan-gu (용산구; 龍山區)
- Located in the centre of the city just north of the river, this is where the US Army base and Itaewon are located. Population 231,484.
Overall, it is safe to say that the most popular districts for an expat to live in the city are those close to the river, near the centre and just to the south on the east side. Districts do not carry a uniform atmosphere all the time; for example, Yeongdeungpo-gu has a very modern appearance in Yeouido where many broadcasting stations are located, but near Yeongdeungpo Station itself the atmosphere takes on a less ordered feel, with more bars than coffee shops, less nature, but cheaper rent. Generally it is a better idea to consider which subway line a location is close to rather than which ward it is in, as a location in Yangcheong-gu for example could be close to Ehwa Womens University and the plethora of other universities and corresponding atmosphere in the area, or it could be located much further west in a much less convenient area. Wards such as Jung-gu, Gangnam-gu and Mapo-gu however are generally safe bets as convenient and central locations.
Seoul and the capital area
As Seoul is part of a large area including various satellite cities such as Ilsan, Anyang, Gunpo and so on, it is sometimes hard to tell when one has left the city, and indeed, besides administrative concerns there can be little difference. The city of Anyang on the line 1 for example is more urban than the ward of Gwanak-gu, and Bundang to the southeast is more popular and modernized than Eun-pyeong-gu. Since 2005 the Seoul Metropolitan Subway has stretched all the way to Cheonan in the province of Chungcheongnam-do, over halfway to the city of Daejeon and further extensions are planned. This, along with the commencement of the KTX in 2004 (which also has a station in Cheonan) has brought Cheonan much closer to Seoul in terms of commuting time, and it is easily possible to commute back and forth between the two, though the trip will still take well oven an hour one way (45 minutes by KTX).
In this manner cities to the northwest, southwest and southeast of Seoul, though geographically more distant, are better options for commuting than those directly to the east such as Hanam and Gwangju.
Seoul has recently been rated as one of the most expensive cities in the world in various surveys, but surveys geared towards overseas employees generally calculate prices based on the exact same living standards (house size, etc.) as the west, and often include the cost of sending one's children to international schools as well. Without the need for this and a more modest living space, Seoul is not too expensive, and generally comes in around the same level or cheaper than a mid-sized city in Canada or the United States. Rent in Seoul generally is around 300,000 - 600,000 won per month, and food costs are similar. Eating out is much less expensive however as tipping is nonexistent and a good meal can be had for around 3,000 - 7,000 won at most Korean restaurants. Pasta, meals at places such as Bennigan's and so on will cost more, however.
Historic sites and tourism
The Joseon Dynasty built the "Five Grand Palaces" in Seoul, namely:
There is also a minor palace:
Temples and shrines:
Museums and galleries:
Outside the metropolitan area:
Seoul National University is considered the country's most prestigious university and is highly sought after.
Other universities of the city include:
Map of the subway in Seoul
The city is home to K-League soccer side FC Seoul, who play at the Seoul World Cup stadium. cell phone lookup It is also home to Korean professional baseball league teams LG Twins and Doosan Bears who both play at the Jamsil baseball stadium and the Woori Heroes who play in Mokdong baseball stadium. Two Korean Basketball League teams, Seoul Samsung Thunders and Seoul SK Knights, play cell phone tracker in the city.