Cities, Counties, & Provinces

Profiles of provinces, cities, and more districts on Korea’s bike paths.

Where am I? What city, county, province, or tiny town am I cycling through?

The Cities, Counties, & Provinces section explores the administrative districts on Korea’s certification bike paths, including their unique histories, geographies, and cultures.

Korea’s Administrative Districts

Tip! Korea’s Administrative Districts

Korea divides its administrative districts into a simple system. The two largest local governance territories include provinces and metropolitan cities.

  • Metropolitan Cities (광역시; gwangyeok-si) are cities with populations over one (1) million. They are “self-governing provinces,” and operate their own infrastructure and local government. Provinces hold no authority over them. Metro cities further divide themselves into districts (; gu), then neighborhoods (; dong). There are eight (8) Metro Cities in Korea.
  • Provinces (; do), like states in the United States of America, are large territories that encompass counties and cities. If one of their cities receives a promotion and ascends to Metropolitan status, the city breaks away from the province. There are eight (8) provinces in Korea.

Under provinces, you’ll find two smaller districts: cities and counties.

In some countries, counties hold jurisdiction over cities. Not in South Korea. The dimensions of cities and counties vary. But their “city” and “county” title has nothing to do with size.

So, what makes a city a city and a county a county? People.

  • Counties (; /gun/) hold under 150,000 people.
  • Cities (; /si/) hold over 150,000 people.

While both cities and counties have “downtown” urban areas, you’ll often find smaller settlements within their borders.

  • Towns (; /eub/) are urban settlements with 20,000 or more people.
  • Townships (; /myeon/) are rural settlements with less than 25,000, but over 2,000 people.
  • Villages (; /lee/) are rural settlements with less than 2,000 people.
  • Neighborhoods (; /dong/) are subdivisions within cities.

Metropolitan Cities