Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea.
The official name of the city is the Seoul Special Metropolitan City.
Seoul is situated in the northwest part of South Korea on the Han River.
As of January 2017, the population of Seoul is 10,197,604 people.
The sprawling metropolitan area is much larger at 25.6 million people – the 5th most populous in the world.
Seoul is noted for its population density, which is almost twice that of New York and eight times greater than Rome.
Seoul comprises 605 square kilometers (234 square miles), with a radius of approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles), roughly bisected into northern and southern halves by the Han River.
The city is bordered by eight mountains, as well as the more level lands of the Han River plain and western areas.
The average elevation in Seoul is 38 meters (125 feet) above sea level.
Settlement of the Han River area, where present-day Seoul is located, began around 4000 BC.
In 18 BC, the kingdom of Baekje founded its capital city, Wiryeseong, which is believed to be inside modern-day Seoul.
With the advent of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the capital was renamed once more to “Hanyang” and later “Hanseong.” [Image below: Taejo of Joseon – the founder and the first king of the Joseon Dynasty]
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.
In 1910, the Japanese invasion took the regime of Korea and the city of Seoul. During the following 35 years Seoul was doomed under Japanese colonial rule. Palaces were destroyed and the Korean culture seemed to fade away.
Korea survived and was released from Japanese rule in 1948. During the Korean war Seoul experienced warfare 4 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.
Fashion- and technology-forward but also deeply traditional, this dynamic city mashes up temples, palaces, cutting-edge design and mountain trails, all to a nonstop K-Pop beat.
As with its long history, 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.
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.
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 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 date 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, but others have been converted into tea houses, coffee shops, 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 neofuturistic design is the centerpiece of the shopping district.
Gwangjang Market is a traditional street market. The market is one of the oldest and largest traditional 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). Gwangjang Market is also known as Seoul’s largest food alley with some 200 stalls set up among kimchi and fresh seafood vendors.
The longest bridge fountain in the world is located on the Banpo Grand Bridge over the Han River in Seoul which measures 1,140 meters (3,740 ft 1 in). It was constructed by Seoul Metropolitan Infrastructure Headquarters. Running along the length of the bridge are 380 nozzles that send 54 tonnes (60 tons) of water cascading 43 m (140 ft) horizontally and 20 m (65 ft) down into the river every minute. In the evening, LED lights illuminate the water spray, which “dances” in time to 100 different pieces of music.
Despite the city’s population density, Seoul has a large quantity of parks.
Seoul has a humid continental climate, also bordering a humid subtropical climate.
Air pollution is a major issue in Seoul.
Seoul originated from the Korean word “seo’ul” meaning “capital city”. An etymological hypothesis presumes that the origin of the native word “seo’ul” derives from the native name Seorabeol, which originally referred to Gyeongju, the capital of Silla, then called Geumseong.
The two major religions in Seoul are Christianity and Buddhism.
Seoul has been described as the world’s “most wired city”, ranked first in technology readiness by PwC’s Cities of Opportunity report.
Seoul is among the world leaders in Internet connectivity, being the capital of South Korea, which has the world’s highest fibre-optic broadband penetration and highest global average internet speeds of 26.1 Mbit/s.
In addition, the city is served by the KTX high-speed rail and the Seoul Subway, which provides 4G LTE, WiFi and DMB inside subway cars.
Inhabitants of Seoul are faced with a high cost of living, for which the city was ranked 6th globally in 2017.
Seoul has hosted the 1986 Asian Games, 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup, and 2018 Winter Olympics.