The Seoul Metropolitan Government bestows honorary citizenship to foreigners who love Seoul and contribute to the development of Seoul’s municipal administration. Honorary citizens are conferred with a certificate of distinction, encouraging them to keep making efforts for the advancement of Seoul as a global city.
In 2020, a total of 21 recipients—19 non-Korean residents and 2 international visitors of Seoul acknowledged for their contribution to Seoul’s municipal administration—were selected as honorary citizens. Since 1958, the number of Seoul’s honorary citizens is 878 from 99 countries (as of Jan. 2021).
Honorary citizens are provided opportunities to participate in not only various events organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, but also in Seoul’s municipal administration. Additionally, admission is free for them at Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul Museum of History, Seoul Grand Park, special exhibitions of Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), and more.
Jackie Chan (1999) – Actor who loves Korea dearly
Guus Hiddink (2002) – Head coach who led the national team to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup
Hines Ward (2006) – American football athlete
Christopher R. Hill (2005) – Former ambassador of the United States to the Republic of Korea
Susan Soonkeum Cox (2005) – Vice President of Holt International Children's Services
Raimund Royer (2010) – First international doctor of Korean medicine
Peter Bartholomew (2010) – Guardian of hanok architecture
Sister Maria Bertilde (2011) – Volunteer in Korea for over 40 years
Michael Sandel (2014) – Author of "Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?" and Harvard professor
Thomas Bach (2018) – President of the IOC for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
Felipe VI (2019) – King of Spain
Qiu Guohong (2019) – Former ambassador of China to the Republic of Korea
- Non-Korean residents who have been living in Seoul for three consecutive years or at least five years in total, having distinctively contributed to Seoul and became examples for Seoul citizens and international residents
- Guests who visit Seoul or live abroad specially recognized to be appointed
- By the head of a public/social institution, or by 30 citizens or more
Current status of honorary citizens
- 878 from 99 countries; 173 guests who visited Seoul, 535 individuals who contributed to Seoul’s municipal administration, 170 others including those who participated in a global conference, etc.