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Seoul 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.
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
This city was renamed from Hanyang (??) to Hanseong (??) 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 (?? -- Keijo in Japanese)
during the Japanese Colonial Period, and finally given the name Seoul after
the 1945 liberation. The word seoul comes from the Indian word "Sravasti",
the name of a retreat that Buddha had spent much of his life; this word
eventually came to mean "capital" in Korean. The Hanja gyeong (?) 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
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 Yi dynasty, each entrance was
opened and closed each day, by ringing large bells, to allow traffic.
Seoul's role as capital was interrupted during the turmoil caused by
Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910-1945), when the Japanese had renamed
it to a central administrative city called Keij?.
Seoul was the host city of the 1988 Summer Olympics and the 2002 Korea-Japan
World Cup Games.
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, 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, Sejongno,
Chungmuro, Yulgongno, and Toegyero.
Seoul is divided into 25 gu (? "districts"), which are sub-divided into
15267 tong, which are in term divided into 112,734 ban in total.
Historic sites and tourism
There is also a minor palace:
Other sites include:
* Samjeondo Monument
* Seoul National University of South Korea
* Yonsei University
* King Sejong University (named after King Sejong the Great of Joseon)
* Korean National University of Physical Education
* Korean National University of Arts
* Korea University
* Chungang University
* Chugye University for the Arts
* Dankuk University
* Dongduk University
* Dongduk Women's University
* Duksung Women's University
* Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
* Hansung University
* Hanyang University
* Hanyang Women's University
* Hong-ik University
* Induk University
* Konkuk University
* Kookmin University
* Kang-woon University
* Kyunggi University
* Kyunghee University
* Myongji University
* Sahmyook University
* Sangmyung University
* Seogyeong University
* Seoul University
* Seoul Women's University
* Sogang University
* Songshin Women's University
* Sookmyung Women's University
* Gimpo Airport
* Incheon International Airport in Incheon