Seoul has been the capital of Korea for more than 600 years and the largest city in the Korean peninsula. Since the Korean War it became the capital of the Republic of Korea or South Korea. The name of the city comes from the former Korean "Seorabeol" or "Seobeol" which means "capital city". The city was known in the past by several successive names: Wiryeseong, Hanyang and Hanseong (Koryo period and Chosŏn period). It is located on the Han River, in the North-West of the country. Demilitarized zone (DMZ) is about 45 kilometers from downtown.
With a population of more than 22 million inhabitants, Seoul is the most populated the third city in the world. More than 3 million vehicles are recorded, causing daily traffic jams beyond midnight.
With the assistance of the United States, Seoul became the center of a huge reconstruction and modernization of the Republic of Korea. The rapid economic growth achieved during the industrialization of the 1960s and 1970s has elevated the standard of living. The office towers and apartments began to grow throughout the city during the construction boom of the 1980s.
During the 1990s, the city has begun to attract many workers from other countries. Previously, almost all residents of Seoul were Korean, with the exception of a small Chinese minority. Today, an estimated 200 000 foreigners live in Seoul. These include workers in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
As a major business, commercial and financial center, Seoul also has many executives and analysts came from North America, Europe and Japan. Seoul ranks 7th in the world in terms of number of multinational companies ranked with Fortune 500, having their headquarters in Seoul. It is also the second most expensive city in the world, leading Tokyo and Hong Kong (classified 3rd and 4th respectively).
Seoul hosted the Olympic Games of 1988 and World Cup in 2002.
The historic center of Seoul is located on a site backed by mountains and open to the Han River. Modern towers dominate the old palace with graceful curves that reflect the rich cultural heritage of country, such as Gyeongbokgung (palace of shining happiness) which was the main Palace during the Chosun Dynasty, or Chagyong-jon who was housing for the Dowager Queen Cho, the mother of King Hõnjong of the same dynasty. North of the palace is Hyangwonjeong, a hexagonal pavilion surrounded by a lotus pond, which itself is a pure wonder....
Be sure to visit the Namdaemun market, one of the most famous of Korea. It is located near the City Hall. There is practically everything: clothing, footwear, fabrics, leather, flowers, vegetables, ginseng, toys, watches, etc.... a bazaar which will delight you!
The love of plants and the landscapes is shown nationally by the "Arbor Day ", on April 5, holiday where the population is invited by local authorities voluntarily to reforest the hills.
A city modern and ancient, Seoul is a summary of all Korea!