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History of Administration


Joseon Dynasty to the Second Republic

Joseon Dynasty (Haseongbu) – ruled by King Gojong
  • Title : Haseongbu
  • Administrative districts : 5 bu, 47 bang, i.e.  central (8), east (12), west(11), south (11), north (10)
    ※ The city perimeters were marked 4km outside the city walls.
  • Population : approx. 200,000 inhabitants
  • Organization : Panyun (Mayor), jwayun, wuyun (Deputy Mayors), jusa, seogi (clerks)
  • Location : current Korea Telecom building, #100 Sejong-ro, Jongno-gu
Colonial Period (Gyeongseongbu)
  • Title : Gyeongseongbu
  • Administrative districts : 1911 - 5 bu, 8 myeonje / 1914 - 86 dong(洞), jeong (町), tong (通), each run by the east, west, Yongsan, and north branch offices / 1943 - branch offices nullified, reversion to old jurisdiction system comprising 7 gu (Jongno-gu, Jung-gu, Yongsan-gu, Dongdaemun-gu, Seongdong-gu, Seodaemun-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu)
  • Population : 988,357 inhabitants (as of 1944), i.e. Korean: 824,976 / Japanese: 158,6198 gwa (division),  15 gye
  • Organization : (Secretariat, General Affairs Division, Home Affairs Division, Social Welfare Division, Education Division, Public Hygiene Division, Public Works Division, Water Supply Division, Tax Collection Division)
  • Location : moved to the area occupied by the  current City Hall building in October 1926
※ Imperial Japan’s exploitation of Korea’s resources and explosive population growth furthered the nation’s economic woes. Survival itself became the sole objective for many Korean people. The city continued to grow with no regulations or city planning.
US Military Governance (Seoul ‘Special Free City’)
  • August 15, 1946: Declaration of the Seoul Charter and reorganization of its governing body
  • Based on the Home Rule Charter of the USA
  • Title : Gyeongseongbu  → Seoul Special Free City
  • Establishment of regulations : Mayor, Head of Administration, 8 Divisions / Public Management Division, Police Division, Firefighting Division, Education Division, Public Project Division, Public Health and Hygiene Division / A council, park committee, city planning committee, and permit committee were all organized under the direct supervision of the mayor
  • Publically-elected officials : Judicial, Financial Management and Financial Audit Officers
※ The USA and a Korean government body governed Seoul together, although the administration was chaotic due to a lack of administrative experience.
The 1st Republic (1948-1960)
  • Nov. 17,1948: Declaration of the “Temporary Law on Local Administration” (expiry within 5 months)
  • Nov. 4, 1949:  Legislation and declaration of the “Local Administration Laws”
  • Title : Seoul Metropolitan Government
  • Establishment of regulations : city council
  • Organization : mayor, Vice-mayor, 7 Bureaus, 34 Divisions, 114 internal affairs divisions, finance bureau, education bureau, construction bureau, business bureau, social bureau, police bureau ※ The police came under the mayor’s jurisdiction
The 2nd Republic (1960-1961)

First elected mayor Kim, Sang-don takes office.

Kim pledged to ①  prevent unnecessary waste of the city budget; ② prevent civil servants from embezzling public funds; and ③ swift processing of administrative work.Kim resigned after the May 16 Coup after struggling with trust issues regarding the Seoul government’s affairs.

The 3rd Republic to the Present

Elevation of Seoul’s Legal Status

The Act on Special Measures for the Administration of the Seoul Special Metropolitan Government was enacted in 1962 to raise Seoul’s legal status along with that of its civil servants, by separating it from the aforementioned local district laws that placed Seoul under the Minister for Home Affairs.

Elevation of legal status
  • Seoul Metropolitan Government is placed directly under the prime minister.
  • Seoul Mayor is a Privileged Government Position.
  • Seoul Mayor can report its affairs at cabinet meetings.
Elevation of Civil Servants’ Status
  • The status of the director general for planning and coordination, the director of bureaus, and the section chief was promoted by one tier.
  • The status of 1 Vice-mayor, 7 Bureaus, 34 Divisions, and 114 internal affairs divisions was elevated and expanded in accordance with the new law.
※ The enactment of the new law represented a major paradigm shift for Seoul’s administration

  • Mayor of Seoul became a state minister, allowing him or her to participate in the establishment of policies for Seoul.
  • Absolute delegation with authority over work distribution, planning, amendment, and regulation gave Seoul executive authority.
  • The synthesizing of similar tasks, separation of planning and management, and elevation of the status of supporting organizations improved the executive ability.

Evolution of the administrative district


8 gu, 268 dong

  • Seoul’s districts expanded to 268.353㎢, representing a twofold increase in size since national independence in 1945.
  • Changes in si and do districts and gu and gun names, location, and jurisdiction zones encompassed 45 ri-districts including Sungin-myeon, Dokdo-myeon, Eunpyeong-myeon, and Siheung-gun, and Dong-myeon of Goyang-si, Gyeonggido Province.
  • Seongbuk-gu was added to the eight districts, making nine in total.
  • Seoul incorporates 5 gun and 84 ri districts
  • area 595.50㎢, population 2.59 million.
  • Gupabal-ri, Jingwannae-ri, Jingwanoe-ri of Goyang-gun, Gyeonggi-do are incorporated into Seoul
  • area 605.33㎢
  • Gwanak-gu, Dobong-gu (9→11 gu districts)

Gangnam-gu (11→12 gu districts)


Gangseo-gu (12→13 gu districts)


Eunpyeong-gu, Gangdong-gu (13→15 gu districts)

  • Guro-gu, Dongjak-gu (15→17 gu districts)<.li>
  • Seoul’s population reaches 9.2 million

Songpa-gu, Jungrang-gu, Nowon-gu, Seocho-gu, Yangcheon-gu (17→22 gu districts)


Gangbuk-gu, Geumcheon-gu, Gwangjin-gu (22→25 gu districts)

Current Status
  • area : 605.25㎢, population 10.464 million
  • district : 25 gu, 424 autonomous centers
  • Organization : Mayor, 3 Vice-Mayors, 1 Office, 5 headquarters, 8 Bureaus, 113 Divisions, 3 Authorities, 40 Affiliated Office, 30 Direct Institutions

Reforms of Administrative Districts


4Organigations 20Divisions(1Office 18 Divisions 1Center) 86Affiliated Offices

  • '46 Head of administration (Vice-Mayor)
  • '48 Establishment of police bureau

7Bureaus 31Divisions 61Affiliated Offices


1Office10Bureaus 44Divisions 85Affiliated Offices

  • '62 Vice-Mayor (2person)

4Departments 16Bureaus 1Headquarter 88Divisions 1Center 77Affiliated Offices

  • '69 Establishment of civil servant education center

1Office 1Group 2Departments 11Bureaus 1Headquarter 86Divisions 1Center 1Headquarters 54 Affiliated Offices

  • '81 : 1 Vice-Mayor (vice-minister) / Establishment of general construction headquarter
  • '82 Renaming to bureaus and divisions

1Office 2Departments 15Bureaus 1Headquarters 8Offices 85Section 1Center 3Headquarters 65 Affiliated Offices

  • '88 Establishment of family welfare bureau
  • '89 : Olympic Preparation Group abolished / Establishment of citizen living bureau, culture and tourism bureau, housing bureau / Waterworks Authority, Subway construction headquarter

2Offices 1Departments 12Bureaus 1Headquarters 3Offices 67Divisions1Center 4Headquarters 66Affiliated Offices

  • '91 Police bureau gains independence as Seoul Metropolitan Police'
  • '92 Establishment of city cleaning project headquarter'
  • '93 - Citizen living bureau, Welfare society bureau, Environment and greenery bureau abolished
  • Establishment of Welfare society environment bureau'
  • '95 Establishment of city facility safety management headquarters (General Construction headquarters →Affiliated Office)

3Vice-Mayor 3Offices 8Bureaus 5Departments 63Divisions3Authorities77Affiliated Offices

  • '98 Streamlining of organization by abolishing and merging office, bureau, and division (16 offices, bureau, headquarter → 11 offices, bureau) 

3Vice-Mayor1Office 12Bureaus 9Departments 1Group 68Divisions3Authorities 74 Affiliated Offices

  • 2003 Establishment of Finance bureau, Legal Affairs (4)
  • 2005 : Establishment of Green Seoul Bureau / One backup organization (1)

3Vice-Mayor 1Office 12Bureaus 9Departments 1Group 68Divisions3Authorities 75 Affiliated Offices

  • Establishment of Seodaemun Fire Station(1.1)

1st Seoul Metropolitan Council (September 5, 1956)

Councilors  47

민주당19명 시민당17명 무소속17명 한독당1명

※ terms extended from 3 years to 4 years

2nd Seoul Metropolitan Council (December 22, 1960)

Councilors  54

민주당40명 농민회1명 자유당1명 무소속5명

※ May16 coup in 1961 disperses the council

3rd Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 8, 1991)

Councilors  132

민자당103명 민주당22명 무소속2명 신민당1명

4th Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 12, 1995)

Councilors  147

민주당130명 민자당17명

※ Seoul mayor election and gu district heads were selected simultaneously

5th Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 1, 1998)

Councilors  104

민주당80명 한나라22명 무소속1명 자민련1명

6th Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 9, 2002)

Councilors  102

한나라당86명 민주당8명 열린우리당7명 민주노동당1명

7th Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 1, 2006)

Councilors  106

한나라당86명 민주당8명 열린우리당7명 민주노동당1명

8th Seoul Metropolitan Council (July 1, 2010)

Councilors  114

한나라당102명 열린우리당2명 민주당1명 민주노동당1명