Seoul ( /, like soul; : Korean 서울 [sʌ.ul] (; ) listen lit. "Capital"), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest  of metropolis . South Korea With surrounding  metropolis and Incheon , Seoul forms the heart of the Gyeonggi province Seoul Capital Area.
Strategically situated along the
, Seoul's history stretches back over two thousand years, when it was founded in 18 BCE by the people of Han River , one of the Baekje . The city was later designated the capital of Three Kingdoms of Korea under the Korea Joseon . Seoul is surrounded by a mountainous and hilly landscape, with dynasty located on the northern edge of the city. As with its long history, the Bukhan Mountain contains five Seoul Capital Area : UNESCO World Heritage Sites , Changdeok Palace , Hwaseong Fortress , Jongmyo Shrine and the Namhansanseong . Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty More recently, Seoul has been a major site of modern architectural construction – major modern landmarks include the  , the N Seoul Tower , the 63 Building , the Lotte World Tower , Dongdaemun Design Plaza , Lotte World , Trade Tower , and the COEX . Seoul was named the IFC Seoul . As the birthplace of 2010 World Design Capital and the K-pop , Seoul received over 10 million international visitors in 2014, Korean Wave making it the world's  and 9th most visited city . 4th largest earner in tourism 
Today, Seoul is considered a leading and rising
, resulting from the South Korean economic boom – commonly referred to as the global city – which transformed it into the world's Miracle on the Han River with a 4th largest metropolitan economy of US$635.4 billion GDP in 2014 after  , Tokyo and New York City . International visitors generally reach Seoul via Los Angeles from the AREX , notable for having been rated the best airport for nine consecutive years (2005–2013) by the Incheon International Airport . In 2015, it was rated Asia's most livable city with the second highest Airports Council International globally by quality of life , with the Arcadis in Seoul being $39,786. Inhabitants of Seoul are faced with a high cost of living, for which the city was ranked 6th globally in 2017. GDP per capita (PPP)   Seoul is also an extremely expensive real estate market, ranked 5th in the world for the price of apartments in the downtown center.  With major technology hubs centered in  and Gangnam , Digital Media City the Seoul Capital Area is home to the headquarters of 15  companies, including Fortune Global 500 , Samsung  , and LG . Ranked sixth in the Hyundai and Global Power City Index , the metropolis exerts a major influence in global affairs as one of the five leading Global Financial Centres Index . hosts of global conferences Seoul has hosted the  , 1986 Asian Games , 1988 Summer Olympics , and more recently the 2002 FIFA World Cup . 2010 G-20 Seoul summit
The city has been known in the past by the names
( Wiryeseong : Korean 위례성; : Hanja 慰禮城, during the era), Baekje ( Hanyang 한양; 漢陽, during the era), Goryeo ( Hanseong 한성; 漢城, during the era), Joseon ( Keijō 경성; , during the colonial era). 京城
, " Japan's annexation of Korea Hanseong" ( 漢城) was renamed "Keijō" ( by the Imperial authorities to prevent confusion with the 京城) ' hanja ' (a transliteration of an ancient Korean word " 漢 " ( Han ) meaning "Great"), which refers to Han people or the 한 and in Japanese is a term for "China". Han dynasty
Its current name originated from the
word meaning "capital city", which is believed to have descended from an ancient word, Korean Seorabeol ( : Korean 서라벌; : Hanja 徐羅伐), which originally referred to , the capital of Gyeongju . Silla Ancient Gyeongju was also known in documents by the Chinese-style name  Geumseong ( 金城, literally "Gold Castle/City" or "Metal Castle/City"), but it is unclear whether the native Korean-style name Seorabeol had the same meaning as Geumseong.
Unlike most place names in Korea, "Seoul" has no corresponding
( hanja used in the Chinese characters ). On January 18, 2005, the Seoul government changed its official Chinese name from the historic Korean language Hancheng ( : simplified Chinese 汉城; : traditional Chinese 漢城; : pinyin ), which was still in common use, to Hànchéng Shou'er (simplified Chinese: 首尔; traditional Chinese: 首爾; pinyin: ). Shǒu'ěr  
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