The Korea Herald


What's Seoul's No.1 landmark? Seoulites say Han River, foreigners pick Gwanghwamun Plaza

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 11, 2024 - 16:01

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A man rides a Flyboard on the Han River, near Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, April 14. (Yonhap) A man rides a Flyboard on the Han River, near Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, April 14. (Yonhap)

Seoul's Han River was picked by the city's residents as the capital's most iconic feature, according to the results of a survey by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday.

Foreign nationals, on the other hand, chose Gwanghwamun Plaza as Seoul's top landmark in the same survey.

A total of 35,881 South Koreans aged 15 or over, and 2,500 foreign nationals who stayed in the country for at least 91 days took part in the 2023 Seoul Survey.

In the poll, in which multiple answers were permitted, 48.3 percent of local respondents said the Han River was the city's No.1 landmark.

This was followed by Gwanghwamun Plaza and the royal Joseon-era (1392-1910) palaces, each logging 36.1 percent and 32.3 percent, respectively. Namsan Seoul Tower, or the N Seoul Tower, received 17.2 percent while Lotte World Tower recorded 15.6 percent.

Foreign nationals visiting Korea had somewhat different views on what they thought were the most iconic sites of Seoul. Following Gwanghwamun Plaza at 45.9 percent, 41.4 percent of respondents picked the royal palaces, while 25.6 percent chose Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which did not even rank among the top five picks by Seoul citizens.

For foreign nationals, the Han River came in fourth place with 23.1 percent, while the Namsan Seoul Tower was chosen by 19.5 percent.

The 2023 Seoul Survey also asked citizens about their perception of life in the city. On average, Seoul citizens ranked their job satisfaction at 6.16 out of 10, with the highest score of 6.8 from respondents working managerial jobs, while the lowest score of 5.81 came from blue-collar workers.

In terms of transportation, respondents gave an average satisfaction rating of 6.62 out of 10, in the order of buses (7.03), the subway (7), express or inter-city buses (6.25), and taxis (6.1).

About 42.2 percent of Seoul-based respondents said they felt stress in the two weeks leading up to the survey, compared to 33.4 percent in 2022.

A section of the survey was devoted to how foreign nationals perceive Seoul, and how happy they were with their time here.

Foreign respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much they agreed with various descriptions of Seoul based on the image they feel the city presents to outsiders. "A city pursuing trendy culture" ranked the highest with an average of 7.55, followed by "An international city" (7.38) and "A city that embraces (diverse cultures)" (7.28).

People of other nationalities living in Seoul gave an average of 6.83 points out of 10 in terms of how happy they felt here, down by 0.24 points from 7.07 in last year's survey. Respondents gave an average of 6.72 points out of 10 in terms of general satisfaction with their quality of life in Seoul, down from 6.91 in 2022.

While most South Koreans may have gotten used to sharing the peninsula with an openly hostile North Korea, the survey showed that foreign nationals here are still concerned about the security risks. Foreign national respondents said that the biggest factor threatening their safety was national security at 55 percent, followed by financial risks at 42.2 percent, manmade disasters at 41.2 percent, and natural disasters at 40 percent.