Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a metropolis where the modern, high-tech and pop culture blend with the traditional street markets, Buddhist temples and palaces. As the business and financial hub of the country, it is also an up-and-coming global cultural capital. But how is Seoul performing in terms of reputation and influence, business attractiveness and sustainability?
In this Seoul city guide:
- Seoul’s reputation and performance as city brand
- The global influence and economic performance of Seoul
- Seoul’s position in indices of environmental sustainability
- Seoul as a hub for creativity and innovation
- How attractive for digital nomads?
Seoul’s reputation and influence
Ranked 6th in the Global Power City Index (2017), Seoul is the 3rd best-placed city in Asia. The city received high scores for R&D (5th), Economy and Accessibility (both 10th). It ranked 11th on Cultural Interaction and 22nd on Livability. Its weakest point is Environment, where it ranked 27th.
In terms of its attractiveness for different audiences, Seoul ranked 10th for researchers, 12th for managers, 24th for artists and visitors, and 27th for residents.
Seoul has a moderate reputation, ranking 47th in the City RepTrak (2017) study, which is the 4th highest position among Asian cities (after Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong).
Seoul ranked 38th on the Ipsos Top Cities Index (2017), and 36th in Resonance Consultancy’s World’s Best Cities Report (2018). In the latter, it scored 15th position in the sub-index of “Top Cities for Programming”.
Economic performance of Seoul
Ranked 27th in the Global Financial Centres Index (2018), Seoul has changed its status and has now become a Global Leader in the ranking. The index also includes the city among the 15 centres likely to become more significant in the future.
Seoul ranks 5th on the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, which means that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world for expats.
Seoul’s sustainability performance
With its overall ranking as 7th, Seoul is the 2nd best placed Asian city in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index (2016). Here, Seoul scores the top position in the People category, 18th on the Profit sub-index, while its weakest score (26th) is on the Planet sub-index.
Health and education bring Seoul to the top of the People sub-index, while the 2030 Seoul Plan that focuses on different issues in the city’s development is expected to positively impact all three pillars of sustainability.
The Green City Index (2012), which focuses exclusively on environmental aspects, ranked Seoul above average on the list of Asian cities. The city stands out thanks to its “Green Seoul Citizen Committee” program, which is an example of citizen involvement in environmental decisions. The study also highlights that Seoul has the densest public transport network of Asian cities included in the index.
Innovation in Seoul
Seoul ranks 12th in the Innovation Cities Index (2018), being 3rd among Asian cities, after the global leader Tokyo and Singapore (6th).
The city ranked 12th on the 2017 Global Cities Index that studies the capacity of cities to disrupt through innovation. This is one position down from the 2016 result and four positions weaker than in 2012, when it ranked as the 8th most powerful city for its potential of global innovation.
How attractive is Seoul for digital nomads?
A great asset for those living in Seoul is the ease of cashless payments. Currently, the country in general is ranked 7th for payments without cash (Digital Life Abroad report). Furthermore, Internet speed is great (South Korea in general is considered a leader in this area).
Interestingly, the Nomad List and the Digital Nomad Index contradict each other in that the former puts the city currently in a 7th position, whereas the latter ranks the country only 42nd. One reason for this might be that Nomad List includes many factors contributing to its overall assessment (such as weather, which varies considerably between summer and winter).
A real asset, considering most of the other leading cities, is the great affordability of Seoul, which is stressed by both studies.
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