Towering over the former city hall building, Seoul's sleek, 13‐story City Hall, the current residence of city government, is an architectural wonder that only opened for business in 2012. A wander through the wave‐shaped building leads past a seven‐story vertical garden, down a spiral staircase and into the basement where an exhibition hall showcases Gungisi artifacts such as arrowheads unearthed during the construction of the new City Hall. Back on the first floor, an art installation representing modern and past Seoul, bubbles up along the building’s glass‐paned front. Several gift shops and cafés also pepper the property.
The building’s unusual shape, with geometric window panels and curvaceous front wall, was designed by architects and planners to reflect the Korean Hanok houses, and their traditional concepts of horizon and deep shadow. The older City Hall building is also worth a gander, and now houses the Seoul Metropolitan Public Library with more than 70,000 regional and global works. The oval‐shaped grassy plaza fronting the building is also a popular gathering space that hosts regular evening events in the summer and a skating rink in winter.
Seoul City Hall is a functioning government building, but visitors can wander through its basement, first, eighth and ninth floors between 7:30am and 6pm. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. til 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays. There is no admission, and a number of guided city tours incorporate stops. Subway lines 1 and 2 service the area and can be taken to City Hall, exit 5, in addition to a number of buses such as 172, 700, 101 and 405. Self‐guided city hall tour brochures are available within the building.