Administrative divisions of South Korea: Wikis


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Administrative divisions
of South Korea
Provincial level
(道 도 do)
Special Self-governing Province
(特別自治道 특별자치도 teukbyeol-jachido)
Special city
(特別市 특별시 teukbyeol-si)
Metropolitan cities
(廣域市 광역시 gwangyeok-si)
Municipal level
(市 시 si)
(郡 군 gun)
(區 구 gu)
(邑 읍 eup)
(面 면 myeon)
(洞 동 dong)
(里 리 ri)
South Korea

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South Korea is divided into 8 provinces (do), 1 special autonomous province (teukbyeol jachido), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi), and 1 special city (teukbyeolsi). These are further subdivided into a variety of smaller entities, including cities (si), counties (gun), districts (gu), towns (eup), townships (myeon), neighborhoods (dong) and villages (ri), as explained below.

(Note on translation: although the terms "Special City," "Metropolitan City," "Province," and "City" are commonly used on English-language government websites, the other translations ("county," "town," "district," etc.) are not official translations, and are only intended to serve as useful illustrations of each entity's meaning.)


Local government

Administrative divisions of South Korea.

Korean terms appear in their official Revised Romanization of Korean spelling.

Level Name Types
1 Provincial level
  • Provinces (도; 道; do) (8)
  • Special Self-governing Province (특별자치도; 特別自治道; teukbyeol-jachido) (1)
  • Special city (특별시; 特別市; teukbyeol-si) (1)
  • Metropolitan cities (광역시; 廣域市; gwangyeok-si) (6)
2 Municipal level
  • Cities (시; 市; si) (77)
  • Counties (군; 郡; gun) (85)
  • Wards (구; 區; gu)
  • Towns (읍; 邑; eup)
  • Townships (면; 面; myeon)
  • Neighborhoods (동; 洞; dong)
  • Villages (리; 里; ri)

Provincial level divisions


Do (Province)

A "do" (도, ) is equivalent to a province and one of the primary divisions of the country, along with "teukbyeolsi" (특별시) and "gwangyeoksi (광역시)". South Korea has 8 provinces and one special self-governing province (teukbyeoljachido; 특별자치도; 特別自治道).

Each province is subdivided into cities ("si") and counties ("gun").

Gwangyeoksi (Metropolitan City)

Gwangyeoksi (광역시; 廣域市), or "metropolitan cities", are major cities that are not part of any province, but exist independently and are self-governed. They are comparable to China's direct-controlled municipalities. South Korea has 6 metropolitan cities with provincial status.

Each Metropolitan City are divided into wards ("gu") and outlying counties ("gun").

Teukbyeolsi (Special City)

A "teukbyeolsi" (특별시; 特別市) is one of the primary divisions of the country, along with gwangyeoksi and do. South Korea has only one special city. Seoul is divided into wards ("gu").

List of Province level divisions

# Romaja Hangul Hanja Type Capital Region Population1 Area2 Density3 ISO
1 Seoul 서울시 ——4 Special City (Jung-gu, Seoul) Sudogwon 10,421,782 605.25 17,219 KR-11
2 Busan 부산시 釜山市 Metropolitan City (Yeonje-gu, Busan) Yeongnam 3,635,389 763.46 4,762 KR-26
3 Incheon 인천시 仁川市 Metropolitan City (Namdong-gu, Incheon) Sudogwon 2,628,000 964.53 2,724.6 KR-28
4 Daegu 대구시 大邱市 Metropolitan City (Jung-gu, Daegu) Yeongnam 2,512,604 884.15 2,842 KR-27
5 Gwangju 광주시 光州市 Metropolitan City (Seo-gu, Gwangju) Honam 1,415,953 501.36 2,824 KR-29
6 Daejeon 대전시 大田市 Metropolitan City (Seo-gu, Daejeon) Hoseo 1,442,857 539.84 2,673 KR-30
7 Ulsan 울산시 蔚山市 Metropolitan City (Nam-gu, Ulsan) Yeongnam 1,087,958 1,056.4 1,030 KR-31
8 Gyeonggi 경기도 京畿道 Province Suwon Sudogwon 10,415,399 10,131 1,028 KR-41
9 Gangwon 강원도 江原道 Province Chuncheon Gwandong 1,592,000 16,894 94 KR-42
10 Chungcheongbuk 충청북도 忠清北道 Province Cheongju Hoseo 1,462,621 7,436 197 KR-43
11 Chungcheongnam 충청남도 忠清南道 Province Daejeon Hoseo 1,840,4105 8,3525 2205 KR-44
12 Jeollabuk 전라북도 全羅北道 Province Jeonju Honam 1,890,669 8,043 235 KR-45
13 Jeollanam 전라남도 全羅南道 Province Muan Honam 1,994,287 11,858 168 KR-46
14 Gyeongsangbuk 경상북도 慶尙北道 Province Daegu Yeongnam 2,775,8906 19,4406 1436 KR-47
15 Gyeongsangnam 경상남도 慶尙南道 Province Changwon Yeongnam 2,970,929 11,859 251 KR-48
16 Jeju 제주도 濟州道 Special Self-governing Province Jeju City Jejudo 560,000 1,845.55 303 KR-49
Sejong7 세종시 世宗市 Special Autonomous City TBD Hoseo TBD TBD TBD TBD

Notes: 1 as of 2000; 2 km²; 3 per km²; 4see Names of Seoul; 5 Daejeon excluded; 6 Daegu excluded 7 currently being planned

Municipal level divisions

Si (City)

A si (시, ) is one of the divisions of a province, along with gun. Cities have a population of at least 150,000; once a county (gun) attains that population, it becomes a city (Gijang county in Busan is an exception). Cities with a population of over 500,000 (such as Suwon, Cheongju, and Jeonju) are divided into wards (gu); Changwon and Namyangju are noticeable exceptions to this rule. Gus are then further divided into neighborhoods (dong); cities with a population of less than 500,000 do not have wards – these cities are directly divided into neighborhoods (dong).

Gun (County)

A gun (군; ) is one of the divisions of a province (along with si), and of the metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon and Ulsan (along with gu). A gun has a population of less than 150,000 (more than that would make it a city or si), is less densely populated than a gu, and is more rural in character than either of the other 2 divisions. Counties are divided into towns (eup) and districts (myeon).

Gu (District)

A gu (구; ) is equivalent to district in the West. Most cities are divided into gu-s, though the metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon and Ulsan contain gun-s as well. Gu-s are similar to boroughs in some Western countries, and a gu office handles many of the functions that would be handled by the city in other jurisdictions. Gu-s are divided into neighborhoods ("dong").

Eup (Town)

An eup (읍; ) is similar to the unit of town. Along with myeon, an eup is one of the divisions of a county (gun), and of some cities (si) with a population of less than 500,000. The main town or towns in a county—or the secondary town or towns within a city's territory—are designated as eup-s. Towns are subdivided into villages (ri). In order to form an eup, the minimum population required is 20,000.

Myeon (Township)

A myeon (면; ) is one of the divisions – along with eup – of a county (gun) and some cities (si) of fewer than 500,000 population. Myeon-s have smaller populations than eup-s and represent the rural areas of a county or city. Myeon-s are subdivided into villages (ri). The minimum population limit is 6,000.

Dong (Neighborhood)

A dong (동; ) is the primary division of wards (gu), and of those cities (si) which are not divided into wards. The dong is the smallest level of urban government to have its own office and staff. In some cases, a single legal dong is divided into several administrative dong. Administrative dong-s are usually distinguished from one another by number (as in the case of Myeongjang 1-dong and Myeongjang 2-dong). In such cases, each administrative dong has its own office and staff.

The primary division of a dong is the tong (통; ), but divisions at this level and below are seldom used in daily life. Some populous dong are subdivided into ga (가; ), which are not a separate level of government, but only exist for use in addresses. Many major thoroughfares in Seoul, Suwon, and other cities are also subdivided into ga.

Ri (Village)

A ri (리; ) is the only division of towns (eup) and districts (myeon). The ri is the smallest level of rural government to contain any significant number of people.


Although the details of local administration have changed dramatically over time, the basic outline of the current three-tiered system was implemented under the reign of Gojong in 1895. A similar system also remains in use in North Korea.

Proposed future changes

In late April 2005, the governing Uri and leading opposition Hannara parties agreed to a sweeping change in the country's local administration. This reform, tentatively slated to take place in 2010, would replace the current three-tier system with a two-tier system. The existing provinces (do) and metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi) would be eliminated. The current gu, si, and gun units would be reorganized into about 60 "metropolitan cities" with a population of roughly 1 million each. Beyond this, the details of the reform have not been decided. Opposition is likely from politicians and constituent groups who will be disadvantaged by the changes. (Sources: Korea Times [1], Korea Herald [2]).

See also

External links


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