Administrative divisions of South Korea

Administrative divisions of South Korea
Administrative divisions
of South Korea
Provincial level
(道 도 do)
Special Self-Governing Province
(特別自治道 특별자치도 teukbyeoljachi-do)
Special city
(特別市 특별시 teukbyeol-si)
Metropolitan city
(廣域市 광역시 gwangyeok-si)
Municipal level
(市 시 si)
(郡 군 gun)
(區 구 gu)
(邑 읍 eup)
(面 면 myeon)
(洞 동 dong)
(里 리 ri)
South Korea

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South Korea is divided into 8 provinces (do), 1 special autonomous province (teukbyeol jachido), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi), and 1 special city (teukbyeolsi). These are further subdivided into a variety of smaller entities, including cities (si), counties (gun), districts (gu), towns (eup), townships (myeon), neighborhoods (dong) and villages (ri), as explained below.

Note on translation: although the terms "Special City", "Metropolitan City", "Province", and "City" are commonly used on English-language government websites, the other translations — "county", "town", "district", etc. — are not official translations, and are only intended to serve as useful illustrations of each entity's meaning. The northwestern islands of Yeonpyeong Island, Baengnyeong Island, Daecheong Island, and the much smaller Socheong Island are part of Ongjin.


Local government

Korean terms appear in their official Revised Romanization of Korean spelling.

Level Name Types
1 Provincial level
  • Provinces (도; 道; do) (8)
  • Special Self-Governing Province (특별 자치도; 特別自治道; teukbyeoljachi-do) (1)
  • Special city (특별시; 特別市; teukbyeol-si) (1)
  • Metropolitan cities (광역시; 廣域市; gwangyeok-si) (6)
2 Municipal level
  • Cities (시; 市; si) (77)
  • Counties (군; 郡; gun) (85)
  • Districts (구; 區; gu)
  • Towns (읍; 邑; eup)
  • Townships (면; 面; myeon)
  • Neighborhoods (동; 洞; dong)
  • Villages (리; 里; ri)

Provincial level divisions

Provincial level divisions are the first-level division within South Korea and it is divided into four groups: provinces, special self-governing province, special city, and metropolitan cities.

Municipal level divisions

A map of all South Korean metropolitan cities' wards (gu), municipal cities (si), and counties (gun).

Si (City)

A si (시, ) is one of the divisions of a province, along with gun. Cities have a population of at least 150,000; once a county (gun) attains that population, it becomes a city (Gijang county in Busan is an exception). Cities with a population of over 500,000 (such as Suwon, Cheongju, and Jeonju) are divided into districts (gu); Hwaseong and Namyangju are noticeable exceptions to this rule. Gus are then further divided into neighborhoods (dong); cities with a population of less than 500,000 do not have wards – these cities are directly divided into neighborhoods (dong).

Gun (County)

A gun (군; ) is one of the divisions of a province (along with si), and of the metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon and Ulsan (along with gu). A gun has a population of less than 150,000 (more than that would make it a city or si), is less densely populated than a gu, and is more rural in character than either of the other 2 divisions. Gun are comparable to British non-metropolitan districts. Counties are divided into towns (eup) and districts (myeon).

Gu (District)

A gu (구; ) is equivalent to district in the West. Most cities are divided into gus, though the metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon and Ulsan contain guns as well. Gus are similar to boroughs in some Western countries, and a gu office handles many of the functions that would be handled by the city in other jurisdictions. Gus are divided into neighborhoods (dong).

Eup (Town)

An eup (읍; ) is similar to the unit of town. Along with myeon, an eup is one of the divisions of a county (gun), and of some cities (si) with a population of less than 500,000. The main town or towns in a county—or the secondary town or towns within a city's territory—are designated as eups. Towns are subdivided into villages (ri). In order to form an eup, the minimum population required is 20,000.

Myeon (Township)

A myeon (면; ) is one of the divisions – along with eup – of a county (gun) and some cities (si) of fewer than 500,000 population. Myeons have smaller populations than eups and represent the rural areas of a county or city. Myeons are subdivided into villages (ri). The minimum population limit is 6,000.

Dong (Neighborhood)

A dong (동; ) is the primary division of districts (gu), and of those cities (si) which are not divided into districts. The dong is the smallest level of urban government to have its own office and staff. In some cases, a single legal dong is divided into several administrative dong. Administrative dongs are usually distinguished from one another by number (as in the case of Myeongjang 1-dong and Myeongjang 2-dong). In such cases, each administrative dong has its own office and staff.

The primary division of a dong is the tong (통; ), but divisions at this level and below are seldom used in daily life. Some populous dong are subdivided into ga (가; ), which are not a separate level of government, but only exist for use in addresses. Many major thoroughfares in Seoul, Suwon, and other cities are also subdivided into ga.

Ri (Village)

A ri (리; ) is the only division of towns (eup) and districts (myeon). The ri is the smallest level of rural government to contain any significant number of people.


Although the details of local administration have changed dramatically over time, the basic outline of the current three-tiered system was implemented under the reign of Gojong in 1895. A similar system also remains in use in North Korea.

See also


External links

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