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Special cities of South Korea

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Title: Special cities of South Korea  
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Subject: Politics of South Korea, List of cities in South Korea, Pyongyang, Incheon, District, Provinces of Korea, Special cities of Korea, Lee Jong-wook, Daejeon, Consolidated city-county
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Special cities of South Korea

Special cities are one of the first-level administrative division 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 특별시 特別市 teukbyeol-si Seoul 1
Metropolitan cities 광역시 廣域市 gwangyeok-si Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Incheon, Ulsan 6
Special autonomous city 특별자치시 特別自治市 teukbyeoljachi-si Sejong 1
  • Seoul was designated a "special free city" (teukbyeol jayusi; 특별자유시; 特別自由市) separate from Gyeonggi Province on August 15, 1946; it became a "special city" on August 15, 1949.[1]
  • Metropolitan cities were called "directly-administered city" (jikhalsi; 직할시; 直轄市) 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.

List of special cities

Name Hangul Hanja Type ISO Population Area
Capital Region Province
split from
Year of
Busan 부산광역시 釜山廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-26 3,574,340 766 4,666 Yeonje District Yeongnam South Gyeongsang 1963
Daegu 대구광역시 大邱廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-27 2,512,604 884 2,842 Jung District Yeongnam North Gyeongsang 1981
Daejeon 대전광역시 大田廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-30 1,442,857 540 2,673 Seo District Hoseo South Chungcheong 1989
Gwangju 광주광역시 光州廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-29 1,415,953 501 2,824 Seo District Honam South Jeolla 1986
Incheon 인천광역시 仁川廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-28 2,710,579 965 2,810 Namdong District Sudogwon Gyeonggi 1981
Sejong 세종특별자치시 世宗特別自治市 Special autonomous city KR-?? 122,263 465 380 Hansol-dong Hoseo South Chungcheong 2012
Seoul 서울특별시 서울特別市 Special city KR-11 10,464,051 605 17,288 Jung District Sudogwon Gyeonggi 1946
Ulsan 울산광역시 蔚山廣域市 Metropolitan city KR-31 1,126,879 1,056 1,030 Nam District Yeongnam South Gyeongsang 1997
  • Notes: There is no hanja for "Seoul," but in Chinese, it is written by its Joseon Dynasty name Hanseong (韓城). The new Chinese name, 首爾/首尔, is a transcription based on the pronunciation of "Seoul". As a suffix, the character gyeong () is used, which means "capital".

See also


  1. ^ 행정연혁 (in Korean). Seoul Metropolitan Government. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
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