Seoul to get name change

Written by on April 1, 2013 in Special Report

Just when you thought Psy’s hit song “Gangnam Style” had run out of ways to surprise you, the City of Seoul reports that it’s going Gangnam Style. That is, the metropolis is set to rebrand itself with a name change…to Gangnam City.

The announcement was made on the morning of Monday, April 1, at the Seoul City Hall press room before a crowd of expectant reporters.

“Now we will have the greatest anthem on the planet!” announced Deputy Mayor of Seoul Metropolitan Government Hong Kildong.

The name change is set to capitalize on not only Psy’s viral rise to fame, but also the moving of the Korean capital to Sejong City outside Daejeon, according to Deputy Mayor Hong. “This is a tremendous chance for the city to rebrand itself,” he explained to gathered reporters. “No longer a city of government, now a city of Gangnam!”

Psy has not yet made a statement on the honor.

The name Seoul is derived from Seorabeol, which means “capital city,” but with the government capital being moved south to Sejong City, it no longer has relevance.

“It has always been hard for foreigners to pronounce the name ‘Seoul,’ but this new name will be much easier to say, and has the star power of K-pop!” exclaimed Deputy Mayor Hong.

Literally meaning “South of the River,” Gangnam will now officially apply to both sides of the Han River, north as well as south. So, the side of the city formerly known as “Gangbuk” will soon be located within the city of Gangnam.

When asked how the government will integrate this new name in a way that won’t confuse Gangbuk residents, the deputy mayor answered: “If they cared so much, then where’s their hit single that received a billion views?”

“I’m a little jealous of my brother Psy, bless,” admitted Delir, the rapper whose hit song “Gangbuk Side,” a follow-up to “Gangnam Style,” failed to chart overseas. Delir was on hand at the press conference to rap his own version of “Gangnam Style,” as Psy was unavailable that day. Psy has so far declined to comment.

There are plans to rename the district of Gangnam-gu, as it would be redundant for it to keep its name after the name change. The municipal government has set up the Gangnam Name Transition Committee to select a new name for the south-side district. The current frontrunner is Jaesang-gu, named after Psy’s real name of Park Jae-sang.

“With the new renaming of Seoul as Gangnam City, we enter a new era of history,” said Deputy Mayor Hong. “This is a city who knows a thing or two.”

Gangnam District may have to change its name to avoid confusion with Gangnam City.

In the past, Seoul has been known by many names, including Wirye-seong, Hanju, Namgyeong, Hanseong, and Hanyang, before finally becoming Gangnam. This latest name change will take effect once the transition to Sejong City is complete.

By Jon Dunbar Editor
April 1 Bureau


About the Author

Jon Dunbar

Jon Dunbar is a former editor and staff writer for His first visit to Korea was in summer 1996 when he was a teenager, and he returned permanently in December 2003. He is involved in the Korean underground music scene and has supported local musicians through writing, photography, and occasionally planning events. He has been blogging for more than a decade, mainly on music, urban exploration, and his cats