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History of Administration


Joseon Dynasty to the Second Republic

Joseon Dynasty (Haseongbu) – ruled by King Gojong
  • Title : Haseongbu
  • Administrative districts : 5 bu, 47 bang, i.e.  central (8), east (12), west(11), south (11), north (10)
    ※ The city perimeters were marked 4km outside the city walls.
  • Population : approx. 200,000 inhabitants
  • Organization : Panyun (Mayor), jwayun, wuyun (Deputy Mayors), jusa, seogi (clerks)
  • Location : current Korea Telecom building, #100 Sejong-ro, Jongno-gu
Colonial Period (Gyeongseongbu)
  • Title : Gyeongseongbu
  • Administrative districts : 1911 - 5 bu, 8 myeonje / 1914 - 86 dong(洞), jeong (町), tong (通), each run by the east, west, Yongsan, and north branch offices / 1943 - branch offices nullified, reversion to old jurisdiction system comprising 7 gu (Jongno-gu, Jung-gu, Yongsan-gu, Dongdaemun-gu, Seongdong-gu, Seodaemun-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu)
  • Population : 988,357 inhabitants (as of 1944), i.e. Korean: 824,976 / Japanese: 158,6198 gwa (division),  15 gye
  • Organization : (Secretariat, General Affairs Division, Home Affairs Division, Social Welfare Division, Education Division, Public Hygiene Division, Public Works Division, Water Supply Division, Tax Collection Division)
  • Location : moved to the area occupied by the  current City Hall building in October 1926
※ Imperial Japan’s exploitation of Korea’s resources and explosive population growth furthered the nation’s economic woes. Survival itself became the sole objective for many Korean people. The city continued to grow with no regulations or city planning.
US Military Governance (Seoul ‘Special Free City’)
  • August 15, 1946: Declaration of the Seoul Charter and reorganization of its governing body
  • Based on the Home Rule Charter of the USA
  • Title : Gyeongseongbu  → Seoul Special Free City
  • Establishment of regulations : Mayor, Head of Administration, 8 Divisions / Public Management Division, Police Division, Firefighting Division, Education Division, Public Project Division, Public Health and Hygiene Division / A council, park committee, city planning committee, and permit committee were all organized under the direct supervision of the mayor
  • Publically-elected officials : Judicial, Financial Management and Financial Audit Officers
※ The USA and a Korean government body governed Seoul together, although the administration was chaotic due to a lack of administrative experience.
The 1st Republic (1948-1960)
  • Nov. 17,1948: Declaration of the “Temporary Law on Local Administration” (expiry within 5 months)
  • Nov. 4, 1949:  Legislation and declaration of the “Local Administration Laws”
  • Title : Seoul Metropolitan Government
  • Establishment of regulations : city council
  • Organization : mayor, Vice-mayor, 7 Bureaus, 34 Divisions, 114 internal affairs divisions, finance bureau, education bureau, construction bureau, business bureau, social bureau, police bureau ※ The police came under the mayor’s jurisdiction
The 2nd Republic (1960-1961)

First elected mayor Kim, Sang-don takes office.

Kim pledged to ①  prevent unnecessary waste of the city budget; ② prevent civil servants from embezzling public funds; and ③ swift processing of administrative work.Kim resigned after the May 16 Coup after struggling with trust issues regarding the Seoul government’s affairs.

The 3rd Republic to the Present

Elevation of Seoul’s Legal Status

The Act on Special Measures for the Administration of the Seoul Special Metropolitan Government was enacted in 1962 to raise Seoul’s legal status along with that of its civil servants, by separating it from the aforementioned local district laws that placed Seoul under the Minister for Home Affairs.

Elevation of legal status
  • Seoul Metropolitan Government is placed directly under the prime minister.
  • Seoul Mayor is a Privileged Government Position.
  • Seoul Mayor can report its affairs at cabinet meetings.
Elevation of Civil Servants’ Status
  • The status of the director general for planning and coordination, the director of bureaus, and the section chief was promoted by one tier.
  • The status of 1 Vice-mayor, 7 Bureaus, 34 Divisions, and 114 internal affairs divisions was elevated and expanded in accordance with the new law.
※ The enactment of the new law represented a major paradigm shift for Seoul’s administration

  • Mayor of Seoul became a state minister, allowing him or her to participate in the establishment of policies for Seoul.
  • Absolute delegation with authority over work distribution, planning, amendment, and regulation gave Seoul executive authority.
  • The synthesizing of similar tasks, separation of planning and management, and elevation of the status of supporting organizations improved the executive ability.

Evolution of the administrative district