Seoul, a city with rapid development, has quickly become a leader in the field of new technologies. Today, nearly all South Koreans have smartphones and have been using services and applications for years that are only now beginning to develop in other countries. Fly and discover our top 7 reasons why Seoul is the futuristic capital of South Korea and the world.
1- Seoul aims to compete with Silicon Valley
The country has many large conglomerates with numerous subsidiaries owned by families, the chaebols (Samsung, LG, Hyundai…), that completely dominate the market. However, the government is now investing in startups to support innovation and help them expand internationally. It has expressed a desire to create technology development zones in the country, similar to Silicon Valley in the United States. In Seoul, it is in the Gangnam district that Teheran-ro, the hub of the South Korean IT industry, is located. It has been transformed into a startup incubator since the government bought buildings there to house companies, including the Google Seoul Campus, where the 500 Kimchi seed capital fund is based.
2- It is the most connected city in the world
The facts speak for themselves: nearly 95% of the country’s population has access to broadband, and almost all of Seoul is covered by Wi-Fi. The inhabitants of the futuristic capital and the country can thus enjoy highly developed online services. They have the ability to print administrative documents in the subway, RFID transport cards calculate the distance traveled and the bill is automatically adjusted accordingly, and the phone can serve as a transport pass if the dedicated application is downloaded. Implemented by local authorities on the Cheonggyecheon promenade, Ubiquitous Seoul or U-City is a project that allows residents to check air quality or traffic conditions on their smartphones, laptops, or dedicated screens. In addition, an increasing number of apartments are connected, with everything centralized from one’s phone.
3- Inhabitants have an incredible number of applications
In South Korea, and especially in its futuristic capital, there are applications for every situation, both for services and for everyday life. They are so ingrained in daily life that they have become indispensable to residents. The most famous is KakaoTalk, a messaging application favored by South Koreans that serves as both an internet browser and a calling service. It is free and installed on more than 93% of phones. Applications also serve as aids for navigation on the subway or bus, such as Seoul Bus or Jihachul, for ordering in restaurants, watching HDTV television, or even downloading movies on demand. In order to make itself more accessible to visitors, the Seoul Tourism Office also offers an application, i Tour Seoul, which allows visitors to discover the city at their own pace.
4- Technology is on display in the futuristic capital
The Digital Media City (DMC) in Seoul is a technology complex located in Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu. Covering an area of 570,000 m², it showcases the future of Seoul through interactive exhibitions. This technological laboratory also houses a Korean Cinema Museum, which traces nearly a century of cinematic history, and a Digital Pavilion displaying around forty technology-related objects. At MBC World, the amusement park dedicated to hallyu (Korean wave) by the MBC channel, visitors can participate in one of the channel’s programs or even present the news. K-pop fans will be thrilled at K-Live in Lotte FitIn in Jung-gu. You can attend K-pop concerts with holograms, learn to dance with your favorite artist, and experience interactive moments with the biggest K-pop groups. All of these attractions are designed to offer visitors unique moments through technology.
5- Online gamers are stars
All Korean cities have PC cafes (cyber cafes dedicated to video games and online games), specific places in South Korea. The online gaming culture is therefore deeply rooted in society. Adulated and respected, online gamers are true celebrities in South Korea. The best, such as Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, become professionals, sign advertising contracts, and have fan clubs. Grouped together in teams, they are funded by sponsors and train professionally for 12 hours a day under the supervision of a coach. They then compete against other national or foreign players in competitions broadcast on television, such as the StarCraft II World Championship Series or Global StarCraft II League. The most popular competitions are played on World of Warcraft or StarCraft, a real-time military strategy game. The government’s early investment and rapid professionalization of this activity explain the dominance of South Koreans in international competitions.
6- 120 Dasan Center has the answer to everything about Seoul
Launched in 2007, the 120 Dasan Center has answers to all your questions about the city of Seoul. Simply dial (02) 120 from a mobile phone or 120, press 9, then choose your language, with 1 for English. This service, which answers all your questions about life and tourism in Seoul, provides a wealth of information to Seoul residents, futuristic capital, tourists, and expatriates alike. Don’t know how to get to your destination? Want to make a reservation at a restaurant or hotel? Don’t know how to use public transportation? Looking for the nearest restaurant? The 120 Dasan Center will have the answer. Accessible from 9am to 7pm on weekdays, excluding weekends and holidays, it is an essential service. You can also subscribe to the “Happy Call Service for Foreigners”, a service that contacts you once or twice a week to provide information about life or services offered in Seoul.
7- E-supermarkets have become popular
The future lies in e-supermarkets. South Koreans work a lot, and these new structures allow them to save time because e-stores are located in subway stations (such as Seolleung) and bus stops. Homeplus offers screens with more than 35,000 references (cleaning products, fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, beverages, dairy products, etc.), arranged in rows on shelves. Simply download the Homeplus application, scan the QR code of the products you are interested in, put them in your virtual cart, pay on your phone, and the products will be delivered to your door at the time of your choice. Delivery is made by the physical store closest to your home. This application is very popular and has more than 22 virtual stores throughout the country. It is mainly used by the young and technology-savvy population.
In conclusion, Seoul is a truly futuristic and connected capital city that showcases South Korea’s dedication to technology and innovation. From high-tech exhibitions at the Digital Media City to the rise of e-supermarkets and the culture of online gaming, Seoul is a city that has fully embraced the digital age. Furthermore, the government’s investments in technology have paid off, as seen through the dominance of South Koreans in international gaming competitions and the ease of access to information through services like the 120 Dasan Center. Overall, Seoul is a city that exemplifies the intersection of technology and modern living.