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The largest cities of South Korea have an autonomous status equivalent to that of provinces. Seoul, the largest city and capital, is classified as a teukbyeolsi (Special City), while the next six-largest cities are classified as gwangyeoksi (Metropolitan Cities; see: List of special cities of South Korea). Smaller cities are classified as si ("cities") and are under provincial jurisdiction, at the same level as counties.
South Korean law requires the population of a county to generally be 150,000 or greater for the passage of a special legislative bill by the National Assembly such as Gyeryong to be designated a city.
The national government can designate cities of at least 500,000 inhabitants as special status cities. This status expands the scope of administrative authority delegated from the provincial government to the city government. It can also be reclassified as a Metropolitan city if it has at least 1,000,000 inhabitants. Only Suwon and Changwon meet these requirements but neither city has been nominated.
A specific city is a municipal city that has a population greater than 500,000 and has been designated as such by an order of the national government under Article 175 of the Local Autonomy Law. Specific cities are given powers to subdivide themselves into non-autonomous districts (일반구; 一般區) but, not all specific cities are subdivided into non-autonomous districts such as Bucheon, Gimhae, Hwaseong, or Namyangju. Currently, South Korea has a total of 15 Specific cities.
|Special Autonomous City||특별자치시||特別自治市||1|
|Busan||부산부||釜山府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Busan||부산시||釜山市||1949-08-15||1963-01-01||upgraded into a Directly-administered city and changed into a Metropolitan city in 1995-01-01|
|Cheongju||청주부||淸州府||1946-06-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Chuncheon||춘천부||春川府||1946-06-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Daegu||대구부||大邱府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Daegu||대구시||大邱市||1949-08-15||1981-07-01||upgraded into a Directly-administered city and changed into a Metropolitan city in 1995-01-01|
|Daejeon||대전부||大田府||1935-10-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Daejeon||대전시||大田市||1949-08-15||1989-01-01||upgraded into a Directly-administered city and changed into a Metropolitan city in 1995-01-01|
|Gunsan||군산부||群山府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Gwangju||광주부||光州府||1935-10-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Gwangju||광주시||光州市||1949-08-15||1986-11-01||upgraded into a Directly-administered city and changed into a Metropolitan city in 1995-01-01|
|Gyeongseong||경성부||京城府||1914-03-01||1946-08-16||upgraded into a Special independent city and changed into a Special city in 1949-08-15|
|Incheon||인천부||仁川府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Incheon||인천시||仁川市||1949-08-15||1981-07-01||upgraded into a Directly-administered city and changed into a Metropolitan city in 1995-01-01|
|Iri||이리부||裡里府||1947-02-23||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Jeonju||전주부||全州府||1935-10-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Jinhae||진해시||鎭海市||1955-09-01||2010-07-01||merged into Changwon|
|Jinju||진주부||晋州府||1939-10-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Masan||마산부||馬山府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Masan||마산시||馬山市||1949-08-15||2010-07-01||merged into Changwon|
|Mokpo||목포부||木浦府||1914-03-01||1949-08-15||upgraded into a city (시;市)|
|Songjeong||송정시||松汀市||1986-11-01||1988-01-01||merged into Gwangju|
|Songtan||송탄시||松炭市||1981-07-01||1995-05-10||merged into Pyeongtaek|
|Ulsan||울산시||蔚山市||1962-06-01||1997-07-15||upgraded into a Metropolitan city|
|Yeocheon||여천시||麗川市||1986-01-01||1998-04-01||merged into Yeosu|
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