A Comprehensive Guide to South Korea’s Administrative Divisions

Welcome to the first issue of Know your Korea series where we introduce you to the Korean provinces.

Today we’ll be seeing an overview of the Administrative divisions of South Korea

South Korea is divided into 17 first-tier administrative divisions:

  • 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi): Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, and Daejeon
  • 1 special city (teukbyeolsi): Sejong
  • 1 special self-governing city (teukbyeol-jachisi): Seogwipo
  • 9 provinces (do ): Gyeonggi, Gangwon, Chungcheongbuk, Chungcheongnam, Jeollabuk, Jeollanam, Gyeongsangbuk, Gyeongsangnam, and Jeju

These first-tier divisions are further subdivided into a variety of smaller entities, which includes cities (si 시), counties (gun 군), districts (gu 구), towns (eup 읍), townships (myeon 면), neighborhoods (dong 동), and villages (ri 리).

Metropolitan cities

Metropolitan cities are the highest level of administrative division in South Korea. They are largely autonomous and have their own elected mayors and city councils. Metropolitan cities are home to South Korea’s largest and most important cities, including Seoul, Busan, and Daegu.

Special city

Sejong is the only special city in South Korea. It was created in 2007 to house some of the country’s government ministries and agencies. Sejong is also home to a number of universities and research institutes.

Special self-governing city

Seogwipo is the only special self-governing city in South Korea. It is located on Jeju Island and has a special status due to its unique geography and culture. Seogwipo is a popular tourist destination and is home to a number of natural attractions, including Hallasan National Park.


Provinces are the second-highest level of administrative division in South Korea. They are governed by elected provincial governors and provincial councils. Provinces are responsible for providing a variety of services to their residents, including education, healthcare, and infrastructure development.

Thanks for reading our newsletter! We hope you enjoyed this issue. See you in the next post 😁✌️

close-up photography of green and red temple during daytime
Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash

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