South Korea Travel Glossary

Below is South Korea Travel Glossary

If you ask Koreans what he can say about Seoul, perhaps the first answer is, “Seoul is a very big city.” Well, it’s just a big deal. Seoul is really huge. It is also of great importance in the life of Korea, a country that is far from being centralized.

Take, for example, the physical size of the city and its population. It now reaches 10 and a half million (more precisely, at the end of 2000, 10,373,234 persons). It means that every fourth Korean person lives in Seoul. In addition, with regard to the people of Seoul, the Seoul suburbs, which from an administrative point of view are not considered part of Seoul but are in fact part of the same giant mega-city, should be taken into account.

Koreans themselves often speak not so much about Seoul as about the so-called “metropolitan area”, which includes all the many suburbs and satellite cities of the Korean capital. This zone can be simplistically represented as a large circle, with a radius of about 70-80 kilometres, and with a centre somewhere in the southern suburbs of the capital. The entire metropolitan area is literally permeated by the railway and Metro lines, and a large part of its population works or learns in Seoul (or, on the contrary, lives in Seoul and works in one of the satellite cities). The population of the “metropolitan zone” now stands at 19 million people or, in other words, about 40 per cent of the total population of the country. For comparison, all as are only 1/15 people in Russia. There are few countries in the world with such a high concentration of population in the capital and its district.

Even on the world scale, Seoul is quite noticeable, now every 500 inhabitants of our planet live in the city (and if we talk about the “metropolitan zone” again, every 250-th earthling). It must be said that the rapid growth of Seoul’s population began only in our century, soon after the capture of Korea by Japan. Previously, for nearly five centuries, the population of the Korean capital had remained relatively constant and had fluctuated at a level of 100-150 thousand people. In 1936, it already amounted to 727 thousand, in 1945 (the first year of the Korean independence)-901 thousand, and in just a few years, it was a million-dollar border. In 1960, the city already had 1.5 million inhabitants, in 1975-5 and a half million.

The area of the city is now 605 square kilometers, which is a little larger than Tokyo, and is noticeably larger than the area of Paris. But the area is a notional one, because the real city is far more than its formal borders, fluiding for a quarter of a century. Seoul by population density leaves far behind most of the major cities of the world, because the density of the development in the Korean capital is exceptional, at home closeing to each other, leaving room for only narrow, windy alleys, which at times may not be able to accommodate two cars. Not surprisingly, in administrative terms, Seoul is now the so-called “special city”, procurator rights to the province (although in practice its political significance is much greater than that of any Korean province). At the same time, only 40 per cent of the city’s population is indigenous Seul’cami, i.e. born in the Korean capital. Those who were born in Seoul and fathers are only 7%. Seul’cys in their majority remember where they themselves or their parents came to this city. Therefore, all regional policy problems, conflicts between the provinces (and in Korea such conflicts are very strong)-all of which are reflected in Seoul.

It started yesterday and not even half a century ago. The highest centralization has always been characteristic of Korea. So, two hundred years ago, in the late 18th century, of about two and a half thousand officials in the country, about 2 thousand were concentrated in Seoul, and only a few hundred worked outside the capital. This tradition persists in our day. The official Korean Institute for Urban Development has published its calculations of the specific weight of Seoul in various areas of national life five years ago. I don’t know, and I’m just going to tell you their numbers. So, according to their calculations, in Seoul 76% of the country’s total economic potential is concentrated, 92% foreign policy capacity, 62% of all financial possibilities. In Seoul, 26% of all Korean students are studying, 41% of all Korean doctors work.

In Seoul, almost every career, almost all of the country’s states, was made. Even if the factories are located somewhere on the periphery, the headquarters of any company is necessarily located in Seoul. The biographies of most Korean industry generals, “oligarchs”, are very similar: they were usually born somewhere in the province, all of whom came to Seoul to make fame and money in their young years, and eventually sought their own. It is clear that millions of others also came to Seoul, dreaming of fame and money, and eventually remained with nothing, but for our history it is important that future automobile kings and steel barons realize their dreams

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