Seoul Capital Area

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Seoul Capital Area

Red: Seoul, Violet: Incheon, Green: Gyeonggi-do, Blue: other areas connected by rapid transit
CountryFlag of South Korea.svg  South Korea
Major cities Seoul
  Capital area11,704 km2 (4,519 sq mi)
  Percentage of South Korea's total population
(51 million)
GDP Nominal / PPPUS$770 billion / $1,024 billion
GDP per capita (Nominal / PPP)US$30,178 / $40,131 (2017) [2]
HDI (2017)0.930 [3]
very high
Seoul Capital Area
Revised Romanization Sudogwon
McCune–Reischauer Sudokwŏn

The Seoul Capital Area (SCA), Sudogwon (Korean : 수도권; Hanja : 首都圈; RR : Sudogwon; MR : Sudokwŏn, [sudoɡwʌn] ) or Gyeonggi region (Korean: 경기 지방; Hanja: 京畿地方;RR: Gyeonggi Jibang;MR: Kyŏnggi Jibang) is the metropolitan area of Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi-do located in north-west South Korea. It has a population of 25 million (as of 2017) and is ranked as the fifth largest metropolitan area in the world. Its area is about 11,704 km2 (4,519 sq mi). It forms the cultural, commercial, financial, industrial, and residential center of South Korea. The largest city is Seoul, with a population of approximately 10 million people, followed by Incheon, with 3 million inhabitants.

Korean language Language spoken in Korea

The Korean language is an East Asian language spoken by about 77 million people. It is a member of the Koreanic language family and is the official and national language of both Koreas: North Korea and South Korea, with different standardized official forms used in each country. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. It is also spoken in parts of Sakhalin, Ukraine and Central Asia.

Hanja Korean language characters of Chinese origin

Hanja is the Korean name for Chinese characters. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation. Hanja-mal or Hanja-eo refers to words that can be written with Hanja, and hanmun refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "Hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because Hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters, though the stroke orders for some characters are slightly different. For example, the characters and are written as 敎 and 硏. Only a small number of Hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding Hanja characters.

Revised Romanization of Korean Korean language romanization system

The Revised Romanization of Korean is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea. It was developed by the National Academy of the Korean Language from 1995 and was released to the public on 7 July 2000 by South Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Proclamation No. 2000-8. . The new system corrected problems in the McCune–Reischauer system, such as phenomena where different consonants and vowels became indistinguishable in the absence of special symbols. To be specific, under the McCune–Reischauer system, Korean consonants "ㄱ(k), ㄷ(t), ㅂ(p) and ㅈ(ch)" and "ㅋ(k'), ㅌ(t'), ㅍ(p') and ㅊ(ch')" became indistinguishable when the apostrophe was removed. In addition, Korean vowels "어(ŏ)" and "오(o)" and "으(ŭ)" and "우(u)" became indistinguishable when the breve was removed. Especially in internet where omission of apostrophe and breve is common, this caused many Koreans as well as foreigners confusion and discomfort. Hence, the revision of the Romanization of Korean was made with the belief that if the old system was left unrevised, it will continue to confuse people, both Koreans and foreigners, and will only exacerbate over time.


Geography and climate

The Capital Area occupies a plain in the Han River valley. It contains some of the most fertile land on the Korean peninsula, although relatively little of it is now used for agriculture. The Gimpo Plain, one of the country's larger expanses of level arable land, covers much of the area of the cities of Gimpo and Bucheon.

Han River (Korea) The River in Seoul, South Korea

The Han River or Hangang is a major river in South Korea and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula after the Amnok (Yalu), Tuman (Tumen), and Nakdong rivers. The river begins as two smaller rivers in the eastern mountains of the Korean peninsula, which then converge near Seoul, the capital of the country.

Gimpo Municipal City in Sudogwon, South Korea

Gimpo is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. It borders Incheon, with which it shares the South Korean side of the Han River estuary, as well as Seoul and the lesser cities of Paju and Goyang. North Korea is across the Han River. The current mayor is Jeong Hayoung (정하영). The city's population of more than 300,000 is made up of more than 71,000 households.

Bucheon Specific city in Sudogwon, South Korea

Bucheon is a city in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea. Bucheon is a satellite city of Seoul, 25 kilometres away. This city is located between Incheon and Seoul.


Satellite image of Seoul and greater area Seoul, nighttime.jpg
Satellite image of Seoul and greater area

The Capital Area has been home to a Korean capital for around 2,000 years. Its central location and relatively gentle landscape have given it a central role in the country's affairs.

The first capital to be constructed in the region was that of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The country's first capital was built in 19 BC and was named Wiryeseong. This is believed to have been constructed near the modern-day boundary of Seoul and Gwangju City. However, Baekje was unable to hold this territory, and surrendered the Han River valley to Goguryeo in the 5th century. The land was then taken over by Silla in the 6th century, at which point it came to play a critical role in helping Silla to establish ties with China.

Baekje Old kingdom of Korea

Baekje was a kingdom located in southwestern Korea. It was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, together with Goguryeo and Silla.

Three Kingdoms of Korea Period of Korean history, where three kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla) coexisted on the Korean peninsula

The Three Kingdoms of Korea refers to the three kingdoms of Baekje, Silla and Goguryeo. Goguryeo was later known as Goryeo, from which the modern name Korea is derived. The Three Kingdoms period is defined as being from 57 BC to 668 AD.

Wiryeseong human settlement

Wiryeseong was the name of two early capitals of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Both are believed to have been in the modern-day Seoul area. According to Samguk Sagi, Onjo, the son of Goguryeo's founder Jumong, founded the nation of Sipje on Wiryeseong in 18 BC, while his elder brother Biryu established himself in Michuhol further to the west. The location of Michuhol is usually believed to be present-day Incheon.

After the fall of Silla, Taejo of Goryeo established the capital of his kingdom in Kaesŏng, now just north of the Demilitarized Zone. During the Mongol invasions of Korea in the 12th century, the seat of government briefly shifted to Ganghwa Island, now just south of the DMZ in Incheon metropolitan city, where the Mongol naval attacks were repelled for about a decade before the king voluntarily surrendered to stop the carnage the Mongols committed in the peninsula, in order to lure the king out.

Silla Old kingdom of Korea

Silla was a kingdom located in southern and central parts of the Korean Peninsula. Silla, along with Baekje and Goguryeo, formed the Three Kingdoms of Korea.

Taejo of Goryeo Founder of the Goryeo Dynasty

Taejo of Goryeo, also known as Taejo Wang Geon , was the founder of the Goryeo dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th to the 14th century. Taejo ruled from 918 to 943, achieving unification of the Later Three Kingdoms in 936.

The Mongol invasions of Korea (1231–1259) comprised a series of campaigns between 1231 and 1270 by the Mongol Empire against the Kingdom of Goryeo. There were seven major campaigns at tremendous cost to civilian lives throughout the Korean Peninsula, ultimately resulting in Korea becoming a vassal state of the Mongol Yuan dynasty for approximately 80 years.

After the fall of Goryeo Dynasty in 1392, the newly founded Joseon Dynasty had its capital (then called Hanseong or Hanyang), less than 100 km (62 mi) south of the old dynasty's capital, Kaesŏng. Hanyang was chosen to be the new capital for mountains surrounding it making it safe from enemies, and for the Han River, separating the north and south parts of the city that let the trade business flourish. During the new dynasty's rule, extensive road systems, administrative buildings, royal palaces, and new ports were built, quickly attracting wealth from all over the kingdom. During the Korean Empire period, Hanseong's public transportation was improved with the installation of streetcars and manually drawn trolleys similar to taxis. Horse carriage systems similar to the ones in Europe were also established.

Goryeo Korean dynasty

Goryeo was a Korean kingdom founded in 918, during a time of national division called the Later Three Kingdoms period, that unified and ruled the Korean Peninsula until 1392. Goryeo achieved what has been called a "true national unification" by Korean historians as it not only unified the Later Three Kingdoms but also incorporated much of the ruling class of the northern kingdom of Balhae, who had origins in Goguryeo of the earlier Three Kingdoms of Korea. The name "Korea" is derived from the name of Goryeo, also spelled Koryŏ, which was first used in the early 5th century by Goguryeo.

Joseon Korean kingdom, 1392 to 1897

Joseon dynasty was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and was replaced by the Korean Empire in October 1897. It was founded following the aftermath of the overthrow of Goryeo in what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul. The kingdom's northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the rivers of Amnok and Tuman through the subjugation of the Jurchens. Joseon was the last dynasty of Korea and its longest-ruling Confucian dynasty.

Korean Empire Last unified state of Korea from October 1897 to August 29, 1910

The Korean Empire was the last independent unified Korean state. Proclaimed in October 1897 by Emperor Gojong of the Joseon dynasty, the empire stood until Japan's annexation of Korea in August 1910. During the Korean Empire, Emperor Gojong oversaw the Gwangmu Reform, a partial modernization and Westernization of the military, economy, land system, and education system, and of various industries. In 1905, Korea was made a colonial protectorate of Japan and in 1910 it was annexed by the latter outright.

Following the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910, Hanseong was renamed Keijo (Gyeongseong) and served as colonial Korea's capital. Upon Korea's liberation from Japan in 1945, the former colonial capital was renamed Seoul and became capital of South Korea.

In the Korean War (1950–1953), the Capital Area became the focus of battles so destructive that most of Seoul and the surrounding regions were eradicated. Seoul was especially hit hard, since it exchanged hands four times during the course of the war.

Korean War 1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.

During the latter half of the 20th century, the Capital Area began to rapidly develop as South Korea's economic wealth expanded. Population expanded fourfold since the Korean War. In 2001, the new Incheon International Airport took over all international flights to Seoul.


Covering only about 12% of the country's area, the Seoul Capital Area is home to more than 48.2% of the national population, and is the world's fifth largest urban area. This percentage has risen steadily since the mid-20th century, and the trend is expected to continue. Currently more than half of the people who move from one region to another are moving to the capital area. By 2020, it is projected that more than 52% of South Korea's population will live within the area, or 26,310,000 people. However, the Seoul Capital Area reached 25,620,000 people by 2015, bringing the chance of reaching a population of 26.31 Million in less than 5 years.


In 2017, Seoul Capital Area's gross regional product was ₩870,509 billion(US$769.8 billion), generating 50.2% of the country's total gdp. [4] It is the fourth largest urban economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles, [5] and the region hosts headquarters of 59 Forbes Global 2000 companies. [6] As the economy of Seoul Capital Area transformed to knowledge economy from the manufacturing-based economy of the 20th century, there are a number of high-tech business parks in Seoul Capital Area, such as Digital Media City and Pangyo Techno Valley.

Industrial Clusters in Seoul Capital Area Spatial Structure Of Capital Region.jpg
Industrial Clusters in Seoul Capital Area

The South Korean government is now implementing a plan to create several centers for economic activities in the Capital Area. According to the plan, for example, Seoul is a 'Northeast Asia's Financial and Business Hub', and southwestern coast, with Incheon and Suwon, is 'International logistics and High-tech Industrial Belt'.

The Seoul Capital Area is home to the most affluent and livable cities and apartments in Korea but there are significant discrepancies between cities and districts, particularly between those built in the older and newer generations. Newer areas with more modern and luxurious apartments and infrastructure are more expensive, along with proximity to Gangnam District, the commercial center of the region. [7]


Various agencies have been set up to deal with the intergovernmental problems of the region. Proposals for consolidating some or all of the cities of the capital area into a handful of metropolitan cities have thus far not been implemented.

Development in the area is currently governed by the Capital Region Readjustment Planning Act (수도권정비계획법), first passed in 1982 and last revised in 1996.


The Seoul Capital Area is divided among the special city of Seoul, the metropolitan city of Incheon, and province of Gyeonggi-do. Seoul has 25 gu (local government wards), Incheon has 8 gu and 2 counties, and Gyeonggi-do has 27 cities and 4 counties as the subdivisions.

Suwon Hwaseong Third North Secret Gate and Dongbuk Gangnu - 2009-03-01.JPG
Bundang, Seongnam Bundang Jeongja.jpg
Bundang, Seongnam
Anyang, Gyeonggi Anyang city.jpg
Anyang, Gyeonggi


The 25 districts of Seoul.


The 8 districts and 2 counties of Incheon.


27 cities and 4 counties of Gyeonggi-do. Below are seven of the largest cities, sorted by their population size:


The 4 gu of Suwon (수원; 水原).


The 3 gu of Goyang (고양; 高陽).


The 3 gu of Yongin (용인; 龍仁).


The 3 gu of Seongnam (성남; 城南).



The 2 gu of Ansan (안산; 安山).


The 2 gu of Anyang (안양; 安養).


Incheon International airport Incheon Airport Prasertwit-1.jpg
Incheon International airport
Seoul Metropolitan subway, Line 3 SMSC EMU3000 VVVF 301.jpg
Seoul Metropolitan subway, Line 3
Map of Seoul Ring Expressway 100 Seoul Ring.svg
Map of Seoul Ring Expressway

The cities of the capital area are tightly interconnected by road and rail. Many of the country's railroad lines, most notably the Gyeongbu Line, terminate in the region. In addition, the needs for commuter rail are served by the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, which passes through Seoul, Incheon, and most of the outlying cities.

The region is a nexus for travel by air and water. The country's two largest airports, Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport, are in the metropolitan area. International and domestic ferries depart from Incheon's ferry terminals several times a day. Massive volumes of international freight pass through the container terminals of Incheon (primarily bound to and from China).

Seoul Ring Expressway (Expressway No. 100) connects satellite cities around Seoul: Ilsan, Toegyewon, Hanam, Pyeongchon, Songnae, Bundang, Pangyo and Gimpo.

See also


  1. A government publication states that on 1 November 2010, the population of "Seoul Metropolitan Area" stood at 23,616 thousand, which is the sum of the figures given for Gyeonggi-do (11,270 thousand), Seoul (9,708 thousand) and Incheon (2,638 thousand), apparently including the periphery.
    Source: "Preliminary Results of the 2010 Population and Housing Census" (PDF). Statistics Korea. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  2. "2017년 지역소득(잠정)".
  3. "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 2018-09-13.
  5. "통계청 - KOSIS 국가통계포털". Archived from the original on 2016-04-03.
  6. or empty |title= (help)
  7. ""미군 잔류로 낙후된 동두천, 특별법 제정해야"".
  1. ^ Korea National Statistical Office (2008-07-22). e나라지표:수도권 인구 집중 현황 (in Korean).
  2. ^ Ryu Boseon (류보선) (2005-08-23). 수도권 인구 편중현상 계속 (in Korean). Korea National Statistical Office (KNSO) News. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.
  3. ^ Hong, Yong-deok (홍용덕) (2005-06-01). 각종 분산정책 불구하고 수도권은 ‘인구 블랙홀’ (in Korean). The Hankyoreh.

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Gyeonggi Province Province in Sudogwon, South Korea

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Suwon Specific city in Sudogwon, South Korea

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Seongnam Specific city in Sudogwon, South Korea

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Bundang-gu Non-autonomous District in Sudogwon, South Korea

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