Special Cities of South Korea
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Special Cities of South Korea
Special city
Revised Romanizationteukbyeolsi
Metropolitan city
Revised Romanizationgwangyeoksi
Special autonomus city
Revised Romanizationteukbyeol-jachisi

Special cities are one of the first-level administrative divisions within South Korea. There are 8 first-level cities in South Korea: Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Incheon, Sejong, Seoul and Ulsan.

Position in hierarchy and types

Special cities are the highest-ranked administrative divisions in South Korea. These cities have equal status to the provinces. There are three kinds of first-level city in South Korea.

Type Hangul Hanja RR City names No. of cities
Special city ??? ??? teukbyeolsi Seoul 1
Metropolitan city ??? ??? gwangyeoksi Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan 6
Special autonomous city ????? ????? teukbyeol-jachisi Sejong 1
  • Seoul was designated a "special free city" (teukbyeol jayusi; ; ) separate from Gyeonggi Province on August 15, 1946; it became a "special city" on August 15, 1949.[1]
  • Metropolitan cities were called "direct control (meaning directly-administered) city" (jikhalsi; ; ) before 1995.


In South Korean special city and metropolitan cities, the Mayor is the highest-ranking official in charge. The Mayor is directly elected by the people registered in the city for a duration of four years. e.g. Mayor of Seoul.

Metropolitan functions such as water supply and public transport are integrated into the sole prefecture other than scattered to each municipality.

List of metropolitan cities

Name Hangul Hanja Type ISO Population Area
City seat Region Province
split from
Year of
Busan Metropolitan city KR-26 3,574,340 766 4,666 Yeonje Yeongnam South Gyeongsang 1963
Daegu Metropolitan city KR-27 2,512,604 884 2,842 Jung Yeongnam North Gyeongsang 1981
Incheon Metropolitan city KR-28 2,953,255 1,062 2,810 Namdong Sudogwon Gyeonggi 1981
Gwangju Metropolitan city KR-29 1,415,953 501 2,824 Seo Honam South Jeolla 1986
Daejeon Metropolitan city KR-30 1,442,857 540 2,673 Seo Hoseo South Chungcheong 1989
Sejong ? Special autonomous city KR-50 122,263 465 380 Boram-dong Hoseo South Chungcheong 2012
Seoul * Special city KR-11 10,464,051 605 17,288 Jung Sudogwon Gyeonggi 1946
Ulsan Metropolitan city KR-31 1,126,879 1,056 1,030 Nam Yeongnam South Gyeongsang 1997
  • There are no Hanja for "Seoul"; in Chinese, it is written as / (pinyin: Sh?u'?r), a transcription based on the pronunciation of "Seoul". As a suffix, the character Gyeong (?/?) is used, which means "capital".

Specific cities that meet the minimum requirements for Metropolitan city status but have not yet been nominated

  • Suwon ( / ) - Population: 1,177,376; Area: 121.1 km²; Density: 9,722.34 /km²
  • Changwon ( / ) - Population: 1,106,081; Area: 736.34 km²; Density: 1,502.13 /km²
  • Goyang ( / ) - Population: 1,014,162; Area: 267.29 km²; Density: 3.794.23 /km²

Specific cities with more than 900,000

  • Seongnam ( / ) - Population: 972,797; Area: 141.70 km²; Density: 6,865.18 /km²
  • Yongin ( / ) - Population: 968,346; Area: 591.36 km²; Density: 1,637.48 /km²

See also


  1. ^ ? (in Korean). Seoul Metropolitan Government. Retrieved 2013.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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