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Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is easily the most noticeable city of the country.

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Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is easily the most noticeable city of the country. Having been the capital of Korea for more than six hundred years, Seoul is the focal point of the country in politics, business, industry, education, et cetera (shown by figure 1). However, not many other cities in the world have gone through such radical changes in the last century. Only hundred years ago Seoul was very traditional; unlike the Japanese and the Chinese, Koreans obstinately refused to accept western culture. In just hundred years however, extreme reformations and miraculous economic development shaped Seoul to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. These changes, however, brought its harmful effects as well. Today, Seoul suffers many urban issues, such as land usage, housing, traffic, aging, and pollution/waste management. These problems naturally occur with urbanization in most other cities as well, but it is especially severe in Seoul since the city grew so much so quickly. However, Seoul's administration realized the problems relatively early and the situation is generally improving now. Area Population Gross Regional Product Banking Capacity Figure 1: Pie graphs showing the influence of Seoul Figure 2: Line graphs showing the population increase in Seoul and ratio to that of South Korea Seoul is the fourth most populated city in the world only behind Tokyo, Mexico City, and New York. According to figure 2, Seoul accounts for nearly one fourth the entire population in South Korea. Including its satellite cities, the population of the area is an astounding 46.3% of the entire population. ...read more.


Carpooling is an afterthought, as 85.4% of car-owners ride their car to work and 70% go to work riding alone. Excess of cars also leads to accidents; South Korea is third in the world for car accidents per capita. This traffic problem was handled based on models of other countries, especially the United States, and Seoul's city administration has done an outstanding job to minimize road traffic. During the 1970s, when there were less than 0.2 million registered cars in Seoul, the city planners looked at the United States and forecasted that there would be many cars in Seoul later on; hence, they built wide freeways on areas - which were then still used for farming - and it helps lessen traffic in one of the busiest areas of Seoul today. To offset road traffic, the government also promoted public mass transportation, which amasses 47.4% of total transportation shown by figure 4. Today, the public transportation system in Seoul is one of the best in the world. Even though the subway in Seoul was constructed rather recently in 1974, figure 5 shows that it was ridden 2.44 billion times in 2002, making it the third busiest subway system in the world after Moscow's and Tokyo's. Seoul's subway system is also second only to New York's with 367 total stations. There are also 390 different bus lines in Seoul, used more than 4 billion times in 2002. The government made public transportation very affordable in Seoul, where prices are nearly half of other cities' systems. ...read more.


In total, there are 1,437 parks in Seoul covering 155.85 km2, which is roughly 25% of Seoul's total area. Park area per capita is 15 m2, which is about the same as cities in other EMDC countries. Figure 9: Bar Graphs showing air pollution in different cities Figure 10: Annotated picture of Nanji-do before and after construction of World Cup Stadium Figure 11: Amount of water pollution in Seoul Figure 12: Amount of air pollution in Seoul Similar problems have occurred in every other major city as well. However, since development occurred so much faster in Seoul, the problems are in some ways more severe. It seems Seoul's administration has done a good job, pretty much having the handles on every urban issue except for one, which is the aging. This problem does not only concern Seoul; every other EMDC city is going through it as well. Then again, the other cities are going through this change after they became moderately wealthy; the fact that this change is occurring in Seoul today is detrimental. There is no clear solution to this problem, and no city actually succeeded in making itself younger once it started aging. I see this problem as the most serious issues facing Seoul today, because it directly damages production when Seoul most needs it. Transportation issues and pollution issues cannot be overlooked, but it is much easier since there are concrete solutions to the problem. Population issues will also be eventually solved once other cities are developed. These problems obviously cannot be solved overnight; however, these must be solved in order for Seoul to join other EMDC cities and be known as the proud capital city of South Korea. ...read more.

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