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Seoul History, South Korea

Seoul's history stretches back to a time before Christ to 18 BC or maybe even earlier. In its two millennia years of history, Seoul has served as a capital of kingdoms since its establishment.

There is evidence of human settlements in the vicinity along Han River in the period spanning the Paleolithic Age. This claim has been backed by archeological evidence as well as that of the period known as Neolithic Age. Remains dug up from the Prehistoric Site in Gangdong-gu dated from 3000 to 7000 years ago. While the facts are still not totally established, the possibility remains.

The oldest written history of Seoul dates back to 18 BC when the Baekje kingdom established Wiryseong as its capital and the ancient name of Seoul. Baekje then expanded from a fellow-member state of the confederacy of Mahan to one of the three Kingdoms of Ancient Korea. Remains from this era still exist to this day like the Pungnap Toseong, which is an earth wall in the southeastern part of present Seoul. Nearby Mongchon Toseong is also a remnant of this ancient time. These ancient sites are nestled along the southern part of Han River and not in the historic Seoul district which is in current-day Jongno and is up north from the river.

During the three Kingdoms era, Baekje was soon dominated by Goguryeo in the year 392 and then by what was known as Silla-Baekje alliance. That was in 551. Silla then gained absolute control of the said city, then the whole peninsula. In the period of the Unified Silla, a place called Hanyang, which was referred to as one of the districts in this city, was taken as the whole city. This cycle went on from Goryeo Dynasty to Joseon Dynasty when Hanyang was the capital, it was later known as Hanseong.

By the late 19th century after staying true to the reputation as the Hermit Country, Korea opened up to the world with Seoul as the center of its modernization. Seoul went on to become the very first city in all of Asia to have running water, reliable electricity, good trolley car, a modern telephone and fixed telegraph systems which were brought on by their trades with the US. This modernization however was a little too late as Japan succeeded in occupying the country. Seoul became its capital during the colonial period known as Gyeongseong at that time. The Japanese General Government Building, which was torn down by 1995, became the seat of government for the Japanese. Right after the Japanese were defeated by the Americans, Korea was liberated and Seoul took its current name. When the Republic of Korea, more commonly known as South Korea, was established, Seoul became its true capital.

The Korean-War began during the 1950's and the city went back and forth between the communist-China-backed North-Korean forces and the democratic UN-backed-South Korean contingency. Seoul was heavily damaged by the end of the grueling war leaving its infrastructure in ruins and many families without houses to live in. With the help of the US however, they were able to rebuild and become the capital city that it is today.

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  • norfolkjonBukchon Hanok Village
    travel tip by norfolkjon posted more then 30 days ago
    To see and 'experience' some of the traditional side of Seoul a visit to the Bukchon Hanok Village is a worthwhile thing. There are several old, traditionally Asian houses, called hanok, which you can enter (not every one of...
  • sunnybeachGyeongbokgung Palace
    travel tip by sunnybeach posted more then 30 days ago
    One of the national landmarks of the city, the Gyeongbokgung Palace is a very old building , home of the royal families of Korea. The whole palace was built in traditional Asian style with beautiful terraces and roofs, walls. And though...
  • SophiaNational Museum of Korea
    travel tip by Sophia posted more then 30 days ago
    History, art and culture; that is what museums are all about. For an understanding of Korea and its background the National Museum of Korea is definitely the best. It offers various kinds of information on both history and culture and...
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    Vancouver, BC (YVR)  Seoul, KR (ICN)
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Seoul City Ratings

  • Rating93%
    City Rank59
  • History & Culture: rated for 98%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 100%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 80%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 88%
  • Food: rated for 98%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 88%
  • Shopping: rated for 100%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 95%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 100%
Seoul is one of the "must visit" tourist destinations in the world. This rank is based on what other travelers shared about their experiences in Seoul
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