Seoul, where the main campus of Chung-Ang University is located, is a city closely related to many of us. Students visit Seoul daily and spend a lot of free time in Seoul as well. With its name so familiar to us, Seoul is also a city that represents the Republic of Korea, as it is the capital. A capital is the representing city of a nation, serving as a political, economic, and cultural hub. Now, let’s find out more about capital cities around the world, focusing on Seoul.
[What is a Capital?]
The dictionary definition of a capital is a political hub where the governmental heart of a nation is located. All around the world, many nations’ National Assembly is located in their capital city.They are often large in scale and high in population. Capitals can be divided into three categories according to their origin. One is the case that a city has long been a political and economic hub of a nation and gradually settled as the capital. Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, Tokyo in Japan, and Paris in France are examples of such cases. Another is the case that a city has been planned to be designated as a capital upon its construction. Washington D.C. in the United States of America and Brasilia in Brazil, are examples of planned capitals. The last case is where capital is divided into two cities, which could be due to a number of complex reasons. The Netherlands is one example of such a case, with its main palace located in Amsterdam and legislative branch located at The Hague.
[Capitals around the World]
As mentioned previously, cities that are designated as a capital are usually of high population and are large in scale, serving as a cultural and economic hub. Thus, most of them are well-known around the world. Let’s look closely into some of the capitals that are leading the trend around the world.
Washington D.C. / United States of America
Named after George Washington, the first president of the United States, Washington D.C. is a planned capital of the United States. On this account, the whole city is beautiful and well organized. With the White House and the Capitol Building being in the center of the city, roads are crossed in the shape of checkerboard. Although Washington D.C. is relatively small in size, the capital of one of the world’s most powerful nations has a strong political influence internationally.
Paris / France
Paris, the capital of France, is well-known to us as a city of fashion. It is not only a political, economic, and cultural hub of France, but it could proudly be referred to as a cultural hub of the world. Just like Seoul, Paris is one of the most densely populated areas in France as well as the world.
London / United Kingdom
London, the capital of the United Kingdom, leads the flow of the world in many respects. It shows outstanding achievement in almost all aspects such as art, tourism, research and development, and is one of the most important financial centers in the world. Diverse races and cultures exist together in London, with over 300 languages in use.
Beijing / China
China ranks number one in the number for the size of its population, and Beijing also has the largest population in China. Beijing is an historic city with many historic sites and relics, and has a number of temples as it is a Buddhist city. As China is showing strength in economic growth, Beijing is also showing development in its economy.
[The Soul of Korea, Seoul]
Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea, is a local autonomous entity with its official name being the Seoul Metropolitan City. Since it was designated as the capital of Joseon in 1392, Seoul has been the center of Korea for over 600 years. Seoul is divided to the South and North by the Han River, and a number of big and small mountains can be found around the city. With about 10 million people, Seoul stands as the representing city of the Republic of Korea.
[History of Seoul]
Due to geographical advantages such as the city being located in the center of the Korean Peninsula, having a number of mountains and being near the Han River, Seoul has long been a home to many people. The city has been called many names in the past such as Namkyoung and Hanyang, but the name Seoul was finally fixed in 1946. After Seoul was designated as a capital during the Joseon Dynasty, much construction occurred to create the shape of the capital we know now. After Korea’s Independence from Japan in 1945, Seoul went through dramatic growth, especially with the help of the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. Now this miraculous city is proudly counted as one of the World’s Best Top 10 Cities.
[Be Proud, This is Seoul]
The Blood Vessel of Korea, the Seoul Metropolitan Subway
The one thing that can never be missed when talking about Seoul is the subway system. If one is to say that Seoul is the heart of South Korea, then the Seoul Subway can perhaps be compared to the blood vessels that connect the city. The Subway is highly praised for its systematic design and convenience of use. 9 lines run in Seoul, helping to commute many citizens and ease the traffic problems in Seoul. Aside from its function as a mere public transportation, the Seoul Subway serves as a cultural space to many citizens.
Forest of Buildings? No, Forest of Mountains!
Seoul is a megalopolis where over 10 million people are living, but one thing that can only be found in Seoul aside from other megalopolises is the many mountains around the city. One may imagine a picture of a concrete jungle from the name of Seoul, but small and big mountains that can be found everywhere in Seoul. Its scenery is something that one cannot easily expect. Bukhansan which beautifully embellishes the back of Gyeongbokgung and Namsan which adds power to the N Seoul Tower are just two of the mountains that make Seoul so beautiful.
People living in New York are called New Yorkers, and people living in Paris are called Parisians. These are common facts. Yet, did you know that people living in Seoul are called “Seoulites”? Seoulite is a compound word made up of ‘Seoul’ and ‘~ite’, which means ‘people of ~’, and was newly added to the dictionary in 2004. Although the word is relatively not well-known by many people, the day might soon come when we can proudly say “I am a Seoulite” in front of others.
So far, we have had time to find out more about capitals around the world. So what is a capital? Maybe a capital can be compared to the yolk of an egg, or the cream in an Oreo. Although capital cities often serve as the center of a nation, they can only exist because other cities exist as well. Through this article, CAH hopes that readers will not only get to know more about capital cities but can have a chance to think about the importance of other cities as well.
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