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Largest Cities in South Korea

Largest Cities in South Korea

Photo: sayan uranan/Shutterstock

Want to know more about the largest cities in South Korea? Here’s an updated list, ranked by size and population in 2020.

South Korea is located in East Asia and ranks as the 28th most populous country in the world with a total population of 51,709,098.  The country is ranked 107th in terms of total area and spans a total area of 38,750 square miles.

Moreover, it is also one of the most developed and prosperous nations in the world with a high-income economy and is ranked 22nd in the global Human Development Index. It is also ranked highly at 12th in the nominal GDP.

The country is the most advanced democracy in the world and has the highest level of press freedom in Asia. South Korea is a global leader in the fields of technology and innovation with technology giants like Samsung based in the country.

Seoul

Seoul is the capital and the largest city in South Korea. The city covers an area of 233.67 square miles and has a population of 9,904,312. The city is ranked as an alpha world city and has the world’s fourth-largest metropolitan GDP.

The city’s Incheon International Airport was rated as the best airport for nine consecutive years from 2005 to 2013. Furthermore, Seoul is rated as one of the most livable cities in Asia and has the second-highest quality of life in the world.

Seoul also has a wide range of cultural attractions including 115 museums, many monuments, architectural landmarks, and parks spread all around the city.

It’s a lively city with many annual and seasonal festivals. Another interesting fact about Seoul is its large number of professional sports teams and facilities in South Korea. Moreover, Seoul has been a host city of the 1988 Olympic Games and the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Seoul

Photo: Shutterstock

Busan

Busan is the second-most populous city in South Korea with a population of 3,448,737. It has an area of 297.31 square miles. The city has the busiest port in Korea and the 5th busiest in the world. Busan is the economic, cultural and educational center of the southeastern part of South Korea.

Busan is a popular location for many international conventions and it has hosted the Asian Games as well as the FIFA World Cup. In 2014, Busan was named the “City of Film” by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and it hosts the Busan International Film Festival which is one of the most popular film festivals in Asia.

Busan

Photo: Gaid Kornsilapa / Shutterstock.com

Incheon

Incheon is the third-largest city in South Korea, located in the northwestern part of the country. With a population of 2,890,451, it is the third-most populous city of South Korea. Incheon covers an area of 410.28 square miles.

The city was designated as the first free economic zone in South Korea and has been chosen by large local and international companies for investment and economic development.

Incheon city is a major international transportation hub as it houses the Incheon International Airport and the Incheon Port which is the second-largest port in South Korea. The city also hosted the 2014 Asian Games which has since given rise to increased tourism.

Incheon

Photo: Noomna nakhonphanom/Shutterstock

Daegu

Daegu is the fourth-most populous city in South Korea with a population of 2,466,052. The city covers an area of 341.14 square miles and is located 50 miles from the coast.

The city is nicknamed as the “Apple city” because of the humid subtropical climate which is ideal for producing high-quality apples. It is also known as the “Textile City” as the textile industry was one of the major economic pillars of the city.

Daegu was most well-known for its electronics industry and was one of the major economic powerhouses in Korea during the 1960s to the 1980s. The city also hosts many festivals such as the Daegu International Opera Festival, the Daegu International Musical Festival, and the Daegu International Bodypainting Festival.

Daegu city in South Korea

Photo: Mali lucky/Shutterstock

Daejeon

Daejeon is South Korea’s fifth-largest metropolitan city with a population of 1,538,394. It is located in the central region of South Korea and has an area of 208.44 square miles. The city is at the crossroads of major transport routes due to its location.

Daejeon is one of South Korea’s administrative hubs with various government offices and agencies headquartered here. It is nicknamed as “Asia’s Silicon Valley” and a “high technology city”.

Many important research institutes and universities are based in the city. The research and development centers of many companies such as LG are located here. The city also hosts the annual Daejeon Science Festival.

Daejeon

Photo: Panwasin seemala / Shutterstock.com

Gwangju

Gwangju is the sixth-largest city of South Korea with a total area of 193.53 square miles. The city has a population of 1,502,881 and it is famous for its rich and diverse cuisine.

Gwangju has numerous designated Food Streets where many restaurants serve dishes that are renowned to Gwangju such as Mudeungsan Boribap Street, Duck Cook Street, Folk Tteokgalbi Street, and Kotgejang Baekban Street.

The Mudeungsan National Park is located in the city which is named after the 1,187m tall Mudeungsan. The city also hosts the Gwangju Biennale, a biannual modern art festival that is held every two years.

Gwangju

Photo: Amankgupta / Shutterstock.com

Suwon

Suwon is the capital of the Gyeonggi-do Province in South Korea which is the most populous province. The city has a population of 1,194,313 and covers a total land area of 46.73 square miles. It is the only remaining walled city in South Korea. The walls are a popular tourist destination in the province.

The Research and Development wing and headquarters of Samsung Electronics are located in the city. The city is also home to 11 universities and is a major educational hub.

The Hwaseong Fortress is located in the city and serves as its most notable attraction as evidenced by its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Suwon

Photo: FenlioQ/Shutterstock

Ulsan

Ulsan is the eighth-largest city in South Korea and has a population of 1,166,615 with a total area of 408.16 square miles. It is the industrial powerhouse of South Korea and is located in the heart of the Ulsan Industrial District.

Ulsan is home to the world’s largest automotive assembly plant which is operated by the Hyundai Motor Company. The city also has the world’s largest shipyard run by Hyundai Heavy Industries and the world’s third-largest oil refinery owned by SK Energy.

Ulsan has the highest GDP per capita of any region in South Korea. In addition to the automotive, shipbuilding and petroleum industries, the city has a major advanced lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant.

Furthermore, the city is also home to the only whale museum in South Korea, the Jangsaengpo Whale museum & Whale Ecological Experience Hall. Ulsan Grand Park and the Taehwagang River Grand Park are two other popular tourist attractions.

Ulsan

Photo: Panwasin seemala/Shutterstock

Most Populated Cities in South Korea

Here’s a list of the largest cities in South Korea, ranked by their total population. 

1 Seoul 9,904,312
2 Busan 3,448,737
3 Incheon 2,890,451
4 Daegu 2,466,052
5 Daejeon 1,538,394
6 Gwangju 1,502,881
7 Suwon 1,194,313
8 Ulsan 1,166,615
9 Changwon 1,059,241
10 Goyang 990,073
11 Yongin 971,327
12 Seongnam 948,757
13 Bucheon 843,794
14 Cheongju 833,276
15 Ansan 747,035
16 Jeonju 658,172
17 Cheonan 629,062
18 Namyangju 629,061
19 Hwaseong 608,725
20 Anyang 585,177
21 Gimhae 534,124
22 Pohang 511,804
 
Most populated city in South Korea

Photo: Travel man / Shutterstock.com


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