Seoul Capital Area

Seoul Capital Area

 South Korea

Major Cities Seoul Special City
Incheon Metropolitan City
Population (2016)
  Metro[1] 25,514,000
  Percentage of South Korea's total population ~50% (50,100,000)
  SMA = Seoul (10 mil.) + Incheon (2.98 mil.) + Gyeonggi (11.8 mil.)
GDP(Metro) US$ 845.9 billion [2]
GDP per capita(Metro) US$ 34,355 [2]
Seoul Capital Area
Hanja 首都
Revised Romanization Sudogwon
McCune–Reischauer Sudokwŏn

The Seoul Capital Area (SCA) is the metropolitan area of Seoul located in the north-west of South Korea. It is referred to as Sudogwon (Hangul: 수도권; Hanja: 首都圈; RR: Sudogwon; MR: Sudokwŏn, [sʰudoɡwʌn]) or Gyeonggi region (Hangul: 경기 지방; Hanja: 京畿地方; RR: Gyeonggi Jibang; MR: Kyŏnggi Jibang) in Korean, and contains three different administrative districts; Incheon, Seoul and Gyeonggi-do.

The Seoul Capital Area has a population of 24 million (as of 2012) and is ranked as the fourth largest metropolitan area in the world. Its area is about 11,704 km2. 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.

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.


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.

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.

After the fall of Goryeo Dynasty in 1392, the newly founded Joeson Dynasty had its capital (then called Hanseong or Hanyang), less than 100 km 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.

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.

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 third 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 2014, Seoul Capital Area's gross regional product was ₩663,833 billion(US$630 billion), generating 48.2% of the country's total gdp. It is the fourth largest urban economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles,[3] and the region hosts headquarters of 14 Fortune Global 500 companies.[4] Seoul Capital Area is now experiencing a fast transition toward knowledge economy, so South Korean government set out a plan to build a number of high-tech business parks, such as Digital Media City and Pangyo Techno Valley.

Industrial Clusters in Seoul Capital Area

The South Korean government is now implementing a plan to create several industrial clusters 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'.

Cities and districts by apartment prices in 2016

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. Fast access to the subway/bus/highway, good educational and healthcare facilities, parks, scenery and cultural amnesties all contribute to expensive apartment prices. In the case of many older apartments located in desirable surroundings, the investment potential for the possibility of demolishing and reconstructing in the future to a more luxurious apartment plays a large role in setting the price. Due to their undesirability, some of the cheapest apartments can be found near the border to North Korea and U.S. military installations.[5]

New cities in bold denotes a second-generation new city - A planned city built in the 21st century. Other new cities were built in the 1990s.

Rank Metropolis/Province District/City/County Price per square meter
in 10,000 KRW[6]
Relative price
1 Seoul Gangnam District 967 967
2 Seoul Seocho District 867 867
3 Gyeonggi Gwacheon City 791 791
4 Gyeonggi Pangyo New Town 703 703
5 Seoul Yongsan District 692 692
6 Seoul Songpa District 683 683
7 Seoul/Gyeonggi Wirye New City 683 683
8 Seoul Yangcheon District 551 551
9 Seoul Gwangjin District 543 543
10 Seoul Mapo District 534 534
- Seoul Average 528 528
11 Seoul Jung District 522 522
12 Seoul Seongdong District 521 521
13 Gyeonggi Gwanggyo New Town 520 520
14 Seoul Gangdong District 517 517
15 Seoul Jongno District 486 486
16 Seoul Yeongdeungpo District 475 475
17 Seoul Dongjak District 474 474
18 Gyeonggi Seongnam City 472 472
19 Gyeonggi Bundang New Town 460 460
20 Gyeonggi Pyeongchon New Town 421 421
21 Seoul Gangseo District 419 419
22 Gyeonggi Gwangmyeong City 404 404
23 Seoul Seodaemun District 396 396
24 Seoul Dongdaemun District 395 395
25 Seoul Seongbuk District 388 388
26 Seoul Gwanak District 385 385
27 Seoul Eunpyeong District 384 384
28 Incheon Songdo International City 381 381
29 Gyeonggi Hanam City 365 365
30 Gyeonggi Byeollae New Town 363 363
31 Gyeonggi Anyang City 362 362
32 Seoul Guro District 357 357
33 Seoul Nowon District 354 354
34 Gyeonggi Uiwang City 347 347
35 Gyeonggi Dongtan New Town 340 340
36 Seoul Jungnang District 339 339
37 Seoul Gangbuk District 338 338
38 Gyeonggi Guri City 333 333
39 Incheon Cheongna International City 326 326
40 Gyeonggi Ilsan New Town 320 320
41 Gyeonggi Gunpo City 319 319
42 Seoul Geumcheon District 316 316
43 Seoul Dobong District 315 315
44 Gyeonggi Sanbon New Town 312 312
45 Gyeonggi Hangang New Town 307 307
46 Gyeonggi Jungdong New Town 306 306
47 Gyeonggi Bucheon City 303 303
48 Gyeonggi Yongin City 302 302
49 Gyeonggi Suwon City 301 301
50 Gyeonggi Ansan City 300 300
51 Incheon Yeonsu District 297 297
- Gyeonggi Average 294 294
52 Gyeonggi Goyang City 294 294
53 Gyeonggi Unjeong New Town 288 288
54 Incheon Yeongjong Sky City 276 276
55 Gyeonggi Hwaseong City 265 265
56 Gyeonggi Gimpo City 259 259
57 Incheon Seo District 257 257
58 Incheon Bupyeong District 253 253
59 Incheon Average 252 252
60 Gyeonggi Namyangju City 247 247
61 Incheon Namdong District 246 246
62 Incheon Jung District 240 240
63 Gyeonggi Siheung City 231 231
64 Gyeonggi Uijeongbu City 228 228
65 Incheon Gyeyang District 226 226
66 Gyeonggi Yangpyeong County 226 226
67 Gyeonggi Gwangju 225 225
68 Gyeonggi Paju City 219 219
69 Gyeonggi Osan City 217 217
70 Incheon Nam District 216 216
71 Gyeonggi Pyeongtaek City 208 208
72 Gyeonggi Icheon City 205 205
73 Gyeonggi Anseong City 176 176
74 Gyeonggi Yangju City 175 175
75 Gyeonggi Yeoju City 166 166
76 Gyeonggi Gapyeong County 160 160
77 Gyeonggi Dongducheon City 150 150
78 Gyeonggi Pocheon City 147 147
79 Gyeonggi Yeoncheon County 131 131


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.


Further information: Seoul

The 25 districts of Seoul.


Further information: Incheon

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:


Further information: Suwon

The 4 gu of Suwon (수원; 水原).


Further information: Goyang

The 3 gu of Goyang (고양; 高陽).


Further information: Yongin

The 3 gu of Yongin (용인; 龍仁).


Further information: Seongnam

The 3 gu of Seongnam (성남; 城南).


Further information: Bucheon


Further information: Ansan

The 2 gu of Ansan (안산; 安山).


Further information: Anyang, Gyeonggi

The 2 gu of Anyang (안양; 安養).


Incheon International airport
Seoul Metropolitan subway, Line 3
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 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. 1 2 "Global city GDP 2014". Brookings Institution. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  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. 
  3. ^ Hong, Yong-deok (홍용덕) (2005-06-01). 각종 분산정책 불구하고 수도권은 ‘인구 블랙홀’ (in Korean). The Hankyoreh. 

External links

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