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Map of location of Seoul
Seoul (In Hangul: 서울) is the 600+ year old enduring capital of Korea (now a special city). After the Korean War, it became the capital of South Korea, located in the northwest of the country below the DMZ, on the Han River.

With about 10 million registered citizens, the city of Seoul is one of the most populated cities in the world that human civilization has yet known. Its density has allowed it to become one of the most "digitally-wired" cities in today's globally connected ecomony. It also has more than 1 million registered vehicles which cause isolated traffic-jams beyond midnight.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geography
3 Administration
4 Historic sites and tourism
5 Higher Education
6 Airports
7 External links



The history of Seoul can be traced back as far as 18 BC. In that year the newly established kingdom of Baekje built its capital in the Seoul area. During the time when the three kingdoms fought for hegemony in Korea, Seoul was often the site where disputes were carried out. It was thought that only the kingdom who controls the area around Seoul is able to control the whole of the peninsula. This was the reason why in the 11th century the ruler of the Goryeo Dynasty built a palace in Seoul, which was referred to as the Southern Capital.

This city was renamed from Hanyang (漢陽) to Hanseong (漢城) when it became the capital of the Joseon Dynasty in 1394 (it is still known by this name in the Chinese language). It was renamed Gyeongseong (京城 -- Keijo in Japanese) during the Japanese Colonial Period, and finally given the name Seoul after the 1945 liberation. The word seoul has been used since the Silla Kingdom (57 B.C.-A.D.935). Seoul was originated from the archaic words of 'seobeol' or 'seorabeol'. Both were referred to Gyeongju, then capital of Silla, and meant the capital or capital city. Then it was transliterated into several types reflecting slight changes over time and have finally firmed up to Seoul. The Hanja gyeong (京) also means "capital" and is used to represent Seoul in the names of railway lines and freeways (for example, the Gyeongbu (Seoul-Busan) railway line and Gyeongin (Seoul-Incheon) freeway.

Originally entirely surrounded by a massive circular wall (a 20 feet high circular stone fortress) to provide security its citizens from wild animals such as the Korean Tiger (Siberian Tiger, once roaming the wilds of Korea in large numbers; although it vanished from the peninsula long ago, its memory has been preserved in both myth and legend), thieves and attacks; although the wall no longer stands (except in the mountains north of the downtown area), the gates remain, including most notably Sungnyemun (more commonly known as Namdaemun) and Dongdaemun. During the Joseon dynasty, each entrance was opened and closed each day, by ringing large bells, to allow traffic.

Seoul was the host city of the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup Games.


Seoul Tower
The traditional heart of Seoul is the old Joseon Dynasty city, which is now the downtown area, where most palaces, government offices, corporate headquarters, hotels, and traditional markets are located. This area occupies the valley of Cheonggyecheon (청계천), a now-covered stream that runs from west to east through the valley before emptying into the Han River. To the north of downtown is Bukhan Mountain, and to the south is the smaller Namsan ("South Mountain"). 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. Yeouido is a large island in the middle of the Han River, downstream from Gangnam-gu, and is home to the National Assembly, the major broadcasting studios, and a number of large office buildings. 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. South of the sprawling Gangnam area are
Namhan Mountain and Gwanak Mountain.

Urban and civil planning was a key concept when Seoul was first designed to serve as a capital in the 14th century. The Royal Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty still remain in Seoul, with the main palace (Gyeongbukgung) currently being restored to its original form. Today, there exist 9 major efficient subway lines stretching for more than 100 kilometers which connects the greater Seoul Metropolian area, with a 10th line being planned.

There are many significant streets to Seoul, but the most historically significant is Jongno - meaning the "Bell Street" - where 'jong' means a bell, and 'no' means a street. This bell that signalled different time of the day and therefore controlled the four gates to the city. It is still intact in its original form, and hit ceremonially at 0:00 every new years day. Seoul's most important streetcar line ran along Jongno until it was replaced by Line 1 of the Seoul subway system in the early 1970s. Other notable streets in downtown Seoul include Euljiro (을지로), Sejongno (세종로), Chungmuro (충무로), Yulgongno (율곡로), and Toegyero (퇴계로).


Seoul is divided into 25 gu (구 "districts"), which are sub-divided into 15267 tong, which are in term divided into 112,734 ban in total.

Historic sites and tourism

Deoksugung Palace
Joseon Dynasty built the "Five Grand Palaces" in Seoul, namely: There is also a minor palace: Other sites include:

Higher Education


External links