Settled since Paleolithic times, Seoul only rose to prominence in 1394, when an upstart general overthrew the previous dynasty and named the city his new capital. Since that time, Seoul has remained a vital political and economic center; indeed, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Seoul slowly grew into a modern metropolis, even amidst the turmoil of colonialization and the devastation of the Korean War.
Today, Seoul is a vibrant, futuristic megacity that is a curious fusion of the ancient and the modern. Past meets present as ornate temples and sprawling palaces contrast with the shining glass and steel office towers of Itaewon and starchitect-designed museums. With 20.5 million residents, Seoul is the world's second-largest metropolitan area, and in 2010, was designated a World Design Capital. Enter this energetic, fascinating city, and experience its diverse character for yourself.