City Diplomacy


Expanding urban diplomacy by forming sister and friendship city relationships with more cities

As of March 2017, the Seoul Metropolitan City has formed sister city or friendship city relationships with 57 cities worldwide. Starting with a sister city relationship with Taipei in 1968, the SMG concluded sister city agreements with 23 cities including Washington D.C. (U.S.), Tokyo (Japan), Beijing (China), Paris (France), and Moscow (Russia). Starting with a friendship city agreement with Ottawa (Canada) in 1997, the SMG concluded friendship city relationships with 34 cities including Los Angeles (U.S.), Shanghai (China), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), and Milan (Italy).

Through active diplomatic efforts of the 5th and 6th SMGs, the number of sister cities and friendship cities have rapidly increased. For the past five years (2012-2016), the SMG has formed new sister city and friendship city relationships with 18 cities, accounting for 32% of the total number of its sister and friendship cities.

< Sister and friendship cities of the Seoul Metropolitan Government >

(As of March 2017)

Sister and friendship cities of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
Nation Sister cities (23) Friendship cities (34)
U.S. (5) Washington D.C., Honolulu, San Francisco Los Angeles, Houston
China (9) Beijing, Taipei (Taiwan) Shandong, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Tianjin,
Shanghai, Sichuan
Japan (2) Tokyo Hokkaido
Jakarta (Indonesia), Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), Hanoi (Vietnam), Astana (Kazakhstan), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Bangkok (Thailand) Vientiane (Laos), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Katmandu (Nepal), Bandung (Indonesia), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)
Ankara (Turkey), Moscow (Russia), Warsaw (Poland), Rome (Italy), Athens (Greece), Paris (France), London (U.K.), Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen/Odense (Denmark), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Budapest (Hungary), Minsk (Belarus), Bucharest (Romania), Istanbul (Turkey), Milan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain)
Oceania (2) New South Wales (Austria) Wellington (New Zealand)
Africa (4) Cairo (Egypt) Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Maputo (Mozambique), City of Tshwane (South Africa)
North/South America
Bogota (Colombia), Mexico City (Mexico), Sao Paulo (Brazil) Ottawa/Montreal (Canada), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Administrative regions of the Federal District (Brazil)

International organizations leading global agendas

Starting with its entry into the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in 1970, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has joined 17 international organizations as of March 2017. In particular, the SMG took the lead in establishing the World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments (WeGO) and the Global Social Economy Forum Secretariat (GSEF) and has been serving as the president city of CITYNET for livable communities and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) for sustainability. The SMG has been taking initiative in global issues and agendas including climate change and the social economy by launching the Promise of Seoul (April 2015) at the ICLEI World Congress held in Seoul and announcing the Seoul Declaration (November 2013) at the GSEF.

Furthermore, the SMG has been growing as a global city by inviting influential international organizations to Seoul.

As of March 2017, a total of 30 international organizations are situated in Seoul. As a result of designating the Global Center Building as an exclusive facility for international organizations and making proactive efforts to invite international organizations to Seoul by revising its ordinances and establishing various support systems, the SMG has invited 14 new international organizations, accounting for 50% of the total number of international organizations in Seoul, in the past five years (2012-2016).

< International organizations in Seoul >

(As of March 2017)

Sister and friendship cities of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
Intergovernmental organizations (16) 16 organizations including the International Vaccine Institute Headquarters, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Representation in the Republic of Korea, OECD Korea Policy Centre, UNESCO Seoul Office, Inaugural Congress of the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts & Equivalent Institutions, etc.
Quasi-governmental organizations (7) 7 organizations including WeGO Headquarters, Trans-Eurasia Information network, ICLEI East Asia Secretariat, CITYNET Headquarters, Headquarters Metropolis International Institute Seoul, etc.
International NGOs (7) 6 organizations including International Bar Association Asia Office, Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center, World Wide Fund For Nature Korea Branch, Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy, World Federation of United Nations Associations Seoul Office, etc.

< International organizations joined by Seoul >

(As of March 2017)

Sister and friendship cities of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
No. Organization Members
(Cities and groups).
Overview Notes
1 Pacific Asia Travel Association
73 branches
About 1,000 members
Develop the tourism business and create added values in the Asia Pacific region Joined in 1970
2 World Association of the major Metropolises
171 cities and groups (Paris, Berlin, Cairo, etc.) Develop the economy of metropolises and improve the quality of life Joined in 1987
A member of the executive committee
3 CITYNET for livable communities 130 cities and groups from 24 countries Efficiently develop cities and guarantee livable communities through cooperation between cities, local governments, and NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region Joined in 1989
4 United Cities and Local Governments
About 1,000 cities and groups (Barcelona, Beijing, Bangkok, etc.) Improve civil service of local governments, enhance the residential environment, and support the local economy Joined in 1998
A member of the executive committee and an executive member of the Asia-Pacific Region
5 International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
for sustainability
1,078 cities and groups from 67 countries (LA, New York, Berlin, Rome, etc.) Protect the global environment and aim for sustainable development Joined in 1999
6 The Asian Network of Major Cities 21
13 cities (Tokyo, Delhi, Singapore, etc.) Aim for win-win growth of metropolises through a cooperative system between Asian metropolises Joined in 2001
7 The International Association of Public Transport
About 90 countries / 2,900 members (Hong Kong, Singapore, etc.) Provide quality public transportation services by exchanging research, information, and technology on public transportation between members Joined in 2005
8 The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
(C40 Climate Leadership
40 members and 19 participants Cooperatively cope with global climate change and promote businesses related to climate change Joined in 2006
Vice Chair
9 Lighting Urban Community International
Member cities: 71 members
Associated members: 52 companies
Share excellent cases to apply advanced urban lighting systems across the world Joined in 2007
10 Global Design Cities Organization
26 cities (Ankara, Yangzhou, Bangkok, etc.) Develop and share experiences and policies related to urban development and design Joined in 2011
the Creative Cities Network
116 Cities (7 fields / Beijing, Sydney, etc.) Promote the diversity of global cultures by developing creative, social, and economic possibilities in cultural business Joined in 2010
12 World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments
72 member cities Aim for sustainable development and share excellent cases of e-governments through international exchange and cooperation Founded and joined in 2010
13 World Tourism Cities Federation
A total of 168 members (113 cities and 55 groups) Promote economic and social development of world tourism cities and expand upon exchange through promotion of tourism Joined in 2012
14 Union of International Associations (UIA) 6,000 organizations and associations all over the world Establish information data on international organizations and associations, exchange information between members, and construct a PR framework Joined in 2012
15 World Cities Culture Forum
32 cities (London, Moscow, Shanghai, etc.) Intercity policy network for exchanging information related to cultural policies between major cities Joined in 2013
16 UN Global Compact
78 local governments (San Francisco, etc.) Sustainable and balanced development of the global economy through a UN-companies partnership Joined in 2014
17 Global Social Economy Forum Secretariat
31 cities and groups (Montreal, Bilbao, etc.) Systematically develop the society and economy and solve social issues through international cooperation between private organizations and local governments Founded and joined in 2014

Sharing SMG’s experience and policies with the world

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has been contributing to solving global urban issues by sharing its excellent policies for urban issues. The SMG has shared its 45 policies with 36 cities in 25 countries. Through systematizing its experience and technology as business models since 2012, a total of 36 projects, accounting for 84% of the total overseas expansion projects, have been exported in the past five years (2012-2016).

< International organizations in Seoul >

(As of March 2017)

Sister and friendship cities of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
Transportation (22 cases) 13 transportation card cases including Consulting of Bangkok (Thailand) Transportation Card System, 3 transportation information center cases including Manila (Philippines) Intelligent Transportation System, and 6 transportation plan cases including Technical Advice of Transportation System in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Waterworks (5 cases) 3 facility improvement cases including the Chanchamayo Waterworks Water Supply Plant Improvement Project, 1 facility construction case (Infrastructure Construction Consulting in PMB, Brunei), and 1 water quality management case (Water Quality Improvement in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)
e-Government (5 cases) 2 e-government cases including the Feasibility Study on the e-Government of Maputo, Mozambique, the Citizens Participation System for Mumbai, India, Urban Disaster Prevention System using Big Data for Columbia, and the Analysis on Commercial Supremacy of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Urban railway (6 cases) 2 facility improvement cases including Railway Signal System Improvement between Chittagong and Chinki Astana in Bangladesh, 2 financial procurement cases including Policy Advice on Public-Private Partnerships of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and 2 consulting cases for light rail transits including the Light Rail Transit of Manila, Philippines
Urban planning (2 cases) Strategic Consulting for Urban Development of Da Nang, Vietnam and Master planning for Urban Development of HanthaWaddy and southern Yangon Region, Myanmar
Environment (2 cases) Design Consulting for River Restoration of Hunan/Henan, China and Installation of LED Streetlights in Manila, Philippines
Others (3 cases) Consulting for the Emergency Management System of the Fire Service & Civil Defense of Bangladesh, the HR Capability Building Program for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Korean Smart City ICT Application Project for India

International status of Seoul

By the SMG’s continued efforts for city diplomacy, Seoul has become one of the top 10 international cities of the world. As a result of inviting international conferences proactively, Seoul has made it onto the list of top 3 international conference cities.

< International status of Seoul >

(As of March 2017)

International status of Seoul
Global Power City Index (GPCI) Ranked 6th for 4
consecutive years
AT Kearney GCO (Global Cities Outlook) Ranked 1st in Asia and
10th in the world
PWC Cities of Opportunity Ranked 11th in the world
ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index Ranked 11th in the world
International conference city rank, Union of International Associations (UIA) Ranked 11th in the world