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