605.21 km2    (233.67 sq mi)

Located in the northern region, Seoul is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. Roughly 9,700,000 people live in the metropolis with population kept at a relatively steady rate. According to the Seoul Development Institute, over 50% of Seoul’s population consider air pollution to be the most imminent environmental issue in the city.

Current Air Quality Situation
PM2.5 > WHO Air Quality Guidelines x 2.4 (24 μg/m3 in 2014)
Air Quality Action Areas
Steps Taken

2003 Special Act on the Improvement of Air Quality in the Seoul Metropolitan Area

  • 1st Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Improvement Plan (2005-2014)

    • Goal: drop PM10 levels from 69 µg/m3 to 40 µg/m3 and NO2 levels from 38 ppbv to 22 ppbv.

    • Outcome: the annual average PM10 concentrations decreased from 70.0 μg/m3 in 2001 to 44.4 μg/m3 in 2011and 46 μg/m3in 2014, yet it was still at least twice than that recommended by the WHO Air Quality Guidelines.)

  • 2nd Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Control Master Plan (2015-2024)

    • Goals: decrease PM10 to 30 µg/m3 and PM2.5 to 20 µg/m3 with a required 35-45% reduction of these particle emissions by 2024.

Increased international cooperation

  • A meeting between South Korean, Chinese, and Japanese ministers took place in 2013, announcing a plan to develop cooperation between the countries in order to prevent rises in PM concentrations.

  • A partnership between researchers in the United States and South Korea is conducting an international air quality field study in Korea (KORUS-AQ).

  • Academic institutions in Seoul are completing research and hold Asian emissions inventories to take stock on the emissions of SO2, NO2, PM2.5, PM10, and main GHGs.

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The ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability East Asia Secretariat is generously supported by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 

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