Seoul As­cend­ing

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE -

South Korea’s cap­i­tal is a ris­ing eco­nomic power, an in­ter­na­tional cen­ter of taste and de­sign and a global travel hub

South Korea has gone from aid re­cip­i­ent to donor in a mere 50 years – an achieve­ment spear­headed by the eco­nomic steam en­gine at its heart. The story of its cap­i­tal, Seoul, is one of sur­vival, tenac­ity and un­prece­dented suc­cess.

The city proper has about 11 mil­lion peo­ple and three buzzing cen­tral busi­ness dis­tricts: the tra­di­tional cen­ter of Myeong­dong, its Wall Street equiv­a­len­tYeouido and the newer Gang­nam, lo­cated south of the Han River – in an area made up of rice pad­dies only 30 years ago. The Seoul Na­tional Cap­i­tal Area, which en­com­passes Gyeonggi prov­ince and the colos­sal free eco­nomic zone of Songdo, near In­cheon, is the se­cond-largest met­ro­pol­i­tan area in the world, af­ter Tokyo, home to about 23 mil­lion peo­ple in to­tal.

This eco­nomic breed­ing ground spawned the emer­gence of for­mi­da­ble do­mes­tic cor­po­rate pow­er­houses or chae­bols, in­clud­ing Sam­sung, Hyundai, Lotte and LG. These com­pa­nies’ clout runs the in­dus­trial gamut: from telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions to ship­build­ing to in­ter­na­tional in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ments – a dy­namism that has pro­pelled ex­ports. For­eign busi­nesses have also flocked to the city, with Seoul cur­rently host­ing 22 global banks, 45 for­eign se­cu­ri­ties ser­vices and 82 transna­tional in­sur­ance firms, with more on the way, ac­cord­ing to AIG. Un­sur­pris­ingly there­fore, the city sits at a com­fort­able sixth place in the Global Fi­nan­cial Cen­ters In­dex.

Com­pre­hen­sive con­ven­tion ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture have cropped up to cater to this growth. The stan­dard of fa­cil­i­ties and

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