Seoul National University
Latin: Universitas Nationalis Seulensis[1]
MottoVeritas Lux Mea (Latin)
Motto in English
The Truth is My Light
EstablishedAugust 22, 1946; 77 years ago (1946-08-22)
PresidentRyu Hong-lim[2]
Academic staff
2,278 (2022)[3]
Students28,264 (2022)[3]
Gwanak-gu, Seoul (Gwanak Campus), Jongno-gu, Seoul (Yeongeon Campus), Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do (Pyeongchang Campus), Siheung-si, Gyeonggi-do (Siheung Campus)
37°27′36″N 126°57′09″E / 37.46000°N 126.95250°E / 37.46000; 126.95250 (Seoul National University)
CampusUrban, 4.2 km2 (1037 acres)
7.0 km2 (1,729 acres), including the arboreta and other campuses.
Colors  SNU Blue
MascotCrane, Zelkova Tree[4]
WebsiteOfficial website (in English)
Official website (in Korean)
Seoul National University Logotype
Seoul National University
Revised RomanizationSeoul Daehakgyo
McCune–ReischauerSŏul Taehakkyo
Note: Other names such as 漢城國立大學/汉城国立大学, named after 漢城, the historical Chinese word of Seoul, have been used historically in China.
Seoul National University is located in Seoul
Main campus in Gwanak-gu, Seoul.

Seoul National University (SNU; Korean서울대학교; Hanja서울大學校; lit. Seoul University) is a national research university located in Seoul, South Korea. The university is widely regarded as the undisputed top university in Korea by reputation, ranking, and output.[5]

The university has three campuses: the main campus in Gwanak District and two additional campuses in Daehangno and Pyeongchang County. The university comprises sixteen colleges, one graduate school and nine professional schools. The student body consists of nearly 17,000 undergraduate and 11,000 graduate students. According to data compiled by KEDI, the university spends more on its students per capita than any other university in the country that enrolls at least 10,000 students.[6]



Seoul National University (SNU) originates from various educational institutions established by King Gojong of the Joseon dynasty. Several of them were integrated into various colleges when SNU was founded later.

To modernize the country, Gojong initiated the establishment of modern higher education institutions. By means of the issue of a royal order, the law academy Beopkwan Yangseongso has been founded on March 25, 1895. It produced 209 graduates including the later envoy Yi Tjoune. Hanseong Sabeomhakgyo (established in 1895), a training school for teachers and Euihakkyo (1899), a medical school, are also considered the origins of respective colleges.

After the proclamation of the Korean Empire in 1897, Gojong, the then emperor, was motivated to create more modern education institutions. In 1899, a medical school was established. This school changed its name several times to Daehan Euiwon Gyoyukbu and Gyeongseong Euihak Jeonmunhakgyo (Gyeongseong Medical College) and finally became College of Medicine of SNU. In 1901, a department for nursing was established, which was the forerunner of the later College of Nursing.

During the Japanese rule, Keijō Imperial University was established as one of Japan's nine imperial universities. After World War II and the independence of Korea, the name of the university was changed from Keijō Teikoku Daigaku (京城帝国大学) to Gyeongseong Daehak (경성대학, 京城大學, Gyeongseong University). The Hanja that were used in the name were pronounced in the Korean reading and the attribute "Imperial" was removed. The renaming to "National" was based on the academic nationalism supported by the US military regime[clarification needed] in Korea at the time.


SNU was founded on August 27, 1946, by merging ten institutions of higher education around the Seoul area. The schools which have been merged were:

The first president was Harry Bidwell Ansted.[7] For over a year and a half, there was a protest movement by students and professors against the law of the U.S. military government in Korea merging colleges. Finally, 320 professors were fired and more than 4,950 students left the school. The university's second president was Lee Choon-ho (이춘호, 李春昊), who served beginning in October 1947.

The College of Law was founded by merging the law department of Kyŏngsŏng University (Keijō Imperial University) with Kyŏngsŏng Law College. The university absorbed Seoul College of Pharmacy in September 1950, as the college of Pharmacy. This had previously been a private institution.[8]

In 1950, during the Korean War, the university was occupied by North Korea. During which, the Seoul National University Hospital massacre occurred.[9] The university then temporarily moved to Busan and merged with other universities in South Korea.[citation needed]


Originally, the main campus (which embraced the College of Humanities and Sciences and College of Law) was in Dongsung-dong, Jongno District. After the construction of a new main campus in Gwanak District in February 1975, most colleges of the university relocated to the new Gwanak Campus between 1975 and 1979 by the request of president Park Chung Hee who disliked student protests at the site where the Gwanak golf club (founded in the early 1960s and relocated in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi) was formerly located.[10][11] Part of the former main campus in Jongno-gu is still used by the College of Medicine, the College of Dentistry and the College of Nursing and is now called Yeongeon Campus.

In 2012, lawmakers reported that the ruling Saenuri Party, prior to the presidential election in December, seriously proposed a plan to relocate the university to the newly established special autonomous Sejong City.[12] The move came as part of an overall effort to decentralize the capital's governmental apparatus. Originally the national government had approached the university in 2009 to host the building of a satellite campus.[13][14] It was reported the following year that the university had considered withdrawing from the Sejong plan.[15]



Admissions to SNU are extremely competitive. From 1981 to 1987, when an applicant could apply only to one university at a time, more than 80% of the top 0.5% scorers in the annual government-administered scholastic achievement test applied to SNU and many of them were unsuccessful.

Academic structure

Sixteen colleges of the university offer 83 undergraduate degree programs.[16] For master and doctoral programs there is one graduate school with 99 programs from five fields of studies. The interdisciplinary programs are the ones invented and operated by more than two departments.[17] In addition to that, there are twelve professional graduate schools.[18]


Professional Graduate Schools


Seoul National University occupies two Seoul-based, one Pyeongchang-based campuses: the Gwanak Campus is situated in 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu; and the Yongon Campus is north of the Han River in Daehangno, Jongno District; and the new Pyeongchang campus in Pyeongchang County, Gangwon Province.


Gwanak Campus, the main campus, is located in the southern part of Seoul. It is served by its own subway station on Line 2. Yeongeon Campus, the medical campus, is on Daehangno (University Street), northeast Seoul. The defunct Suwon Campus, the agricultural campus, also known as the Sangnok Campus (Evergreen Campus), used to be located in Suwon, about 40 km south of Seoul. The agricultural campus moved to Gwanak in Autumn 2004, but some research facilities still remain in Suwon.

Future Campus plans

In February 2010 Seoul National initiated a memorandum with the city of Siheung to establish a global campus. Signed with the city's mayor and governor of Gyeonggi Province for administrative assistance, the university acquired 826 thousand square meters (204 acres) of property in the west-coast economic zone, near the Songdo International Business District, Pyeongtaek harbor, international airport, seaport.[19]

The land acquisition will increase the university's size by 58% over its current 1.4 million square meters (350 acres) to 2.2 million square meters (550 acres) and headcount by an expected 10,000 people or 33% of its current figure.[20] Along with lecture halls and additional liberal arts and graduate courses, the initiative will add a medical complex including a research hospital and training centre, research centre for dentistry and clinical pharmacology, dormitories, apartments, an international middle and high school, and other facilities. Planning to open the international campus in 2014, the university intends to share the initiative with other regional national institutions.[21]



Passageway through the Central Library building

The Seoul National University Library[22] is located behind the university administrative building in the 62nd block of the Gwanak Campus. The chief librarian, Dr. Kim Jong-seo, professor of religious studies in the College of Humanities, took office in 2009. Following the completion of Kwanjeong Library in February 2015, the SNU Library reached a size of 57,747 square meters. As of 2022, the library is home to 5.2 million volumes of books as well as over 260,000 academic journals and e-journals, and over 230,000 non-book materials.

The Central Library has constructed a digital library, which in addition to the regular library collection provides access to university publications, ancient texts, and theses. Included here are images of pamphlets, lecture slides, and insects. The digital library offers access to video of university exhibitions, scientific events, symposia, and seminars.

The library was opened in 1946 as the "Seoul National University Central Library" and inherited its facilities and books from Kyungsung University. In 1949, the name of the library was changed to the "Seoul National University Library Annex". When the main branch of the library was relocated to the Gwanak Campus in January 1975, it was renamed the "Seoul National University Library", and then renamed again in 1992 as the "Seoul National University Central Library".

In 1966, provisions were made to systematize the library's collections. The original library was organized into 12 annexes for each of the university's colleges: engineering, education, physics, art, law, theology, pharmacology, music, medicine, dentistry, administration, and agricultural sciences. Two years later, in 1968, libraries for newspapers and the liberal arts were added to bring the number of annexes to 14. However, as the main branch was moved to the Gwanak Campus, the education, physics, legal, theological, administrative, newspaper, liberal arts, and pharmacological libraries were combined in a single building.


See also: Kyujanggak

Historical document in the Kyujanggak Archives

The Kyujanggak, also spelled "Gyujanggak", was the royal library of the Joseon dynasty. It was founded in 1776 by order of King Jeongjo of Joseon, at which time it was located on the grounds of Changdeok Palace. Today known as Kyujanggak Royal Library or Kyujanggak Archives are maintained by Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies[23] (규장각한국학연구원) at SNU. It functions as a key repository of Korean historical records and a centre for research and publication of the annual journal Kyujanggak.[24]


Seoul National University Museum[25] is located at the Gwanak Campus. It opened alongside the university in 1946 under the name "The Seoul National University Museum Annex." The original two-story Dongsung-dong building, which was erected in 1941, had served as the Kyungsung Imperial University Museum until it was transferred intact to SNU. When the museum was moved to the sixth floor of the Central Library, in 1975, it was renamed the "Seoul National University Museum". The museum was then moved to newly constructed facilities, next to the Dongwon Building, in 1993, which it has occupied to this day. Dr. Park Nak-gyu is its director.

Museum of Art

The new building of the Museum of Art

Main article: Seoul National University Museum of Art

The Seoul National University Museum of Art (SNUMoA) was established in 1995 with contributions from the Samsung Cultural Foundation after a proposal from Dr. Lee Jong-sang, a professor of Oriental Art. The building was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, with construction entrusted to the Samsung Group. The 4,450 square metres (47,900 sq ft) structure lies three stories above and below ground, with its major distinguishing feature, the forward area, cantilevering off the ground. Construction lasted from 2003 to 2005, and the museum opened on June 8, 2006. Dr. Jung Hung-min assumed directorship of the gallery in 2006.[26]


Main article: Seoul National University Gymnasium

The Seoul National University Gymnasium is an indoor sporting arena. The capacity of the arena is 5,000 and was built in 1986 to host table tennis and badminton (demonstration) events at the 1988 Summer Olympics.


More than 1,300 dorm rooms stand newly renovated at Gwanaksa since September 2010.

The dormitory of SNU is named Gwanaksa (관악사).[27] Dormitories for undergraduate and graduate students as well as families are located here. It was founded August 1975, with five Gwanaksa buildings and one welfare building, which housed 970 male students. The female dormitory was founded in February 1983. By June 2007, there were one administration building, two welfare buildings, 12 undergraduate dormitory buildings, six graduate students’ dormitory buildings, which in total housed 3,680 students. Unlike other university dormitories in South Korea, there is no curfew hour.

The dormitory Yeongeonsa is located on the Yeongeon campus, which is the medical school of SNU. Yeongeonsa can house 533 undergraduate students and 17 family households.

University Newspaper

Editorial building of the students' press

The University Newspaper (Korean대학신문; Hanja大学新闻; RRDaehak Sinmun) is school's student newspaper.[28] The first edition of the paper was launched during the Korean War, on February 4, 1952. In 1953 it was moved to Dongsung-dong in Seoul, where from 1958 even editions for high school were published. Financial difficulties in 1960 led the paper to cease printing for a time. It was relocated to the Gwanak Campus in 1975, where it has been in continuous publication until the present day.[29] At the time of its first launch the paper was sold for 500 won a copy, sometimes twice a week. Now, however, it is distributed for free every Monday. The school paper is not available during schools breaks or exams.

Reputation and rankings

Official poster of the 60th anniversary in 2006


SNU graduates dominate South Korea's academics, government, politics and business. A KEDI study found that the university's name-value translates into wages that are on average about 12 percent higher than that of any other Korean university.[30] Approximately one in four Korean university presidents obtained their undergraduate degree at SNU.[31] Between 2003 and 2009, more students who graduated from science high schools and received presidential scholarships matriculated at SNU than at eight other leading universities combined.[32]

The chiefs of the government-run College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) are mostly SNU graduates.[citation needed]

International rankings

University rankings
QS National[33] General 1
ARWU National[34] General 1
USNWR National[35] General 1
QS Asia
(World Ranking version)[36]
General 7
QS Asia
(Asian Ranking version)[37]
General 7
THE Asia[38] General 9
USNWR Asia[39] General 12=
THE World[40] General 60
QS World[36] General 29
USNWR World[41] General 128=
ARWU World[42] Research 101–150

In 2015, Thomson-Reuters ranked SNU as the 31st most innovative institution in the world.[45] QS World University Rankings (2023)ranked SNU as the best university 29th in the world and 7th in Asia, whilst it is 7th in the independent regional QS Asian University Rankings (2023).[46] SNU is 11th in Asia and 56th in the world according to the 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. In 2023, its World Reputation Rankings were considered it to be 44th globally.[47] Moreover, ARWU (2022) regarded SNU to be among 98th worldwide and the best in the country.[48] CWUR 2020-2021 ranks SNU as 31st best in the world.[49]

QS University Subject Rankings (2018):[50] 25th, Arts and Humanities; 16th, Engineering and Technology; 37th, Life Sciences and Medicine; 21st, Social Sciences and Management; 20th, Natural Sciences.

The institute was ranked 20th in publications by a 2008 analysis of data from the Science Citation Index,[51] and the following year ranked 8th in the world in clinical trials.[52] In 2011, the Mines ParisTech: Professional Ranking World Universities reported that SNU is ranked 10th in the world in terms of the number of alumni holding CEO positions in Fortune 500 enterprises.[53] SNU also had the third highest number of students who went on to earn Ph.Ds in American institutions in 2006.[54]

International partners

SNU students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the National Taiwan University, Sciences Po, Sorbonne University, University College London, and the University of Warwick.

Notable alumni and faculty

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Seoul National University people.

Among its notable alumni are prominent figures in international organizations and businesses such as Ban Ki-moon, the eighth secretary-general of the United Nations (UN); Hoesung Lee, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Song Sang-hyun, former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC); Lee Jong-wook, the sixth director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), O-Gon Kwon, former vice president and permanent judge in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); Kwon Oh-hyun, former CEO and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics; and Bang Si-hyuk, the chairman and founder of HYBE Corporation.

In popular media

See also



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  2. ^ "President's Office / Curriculum Vitae". Seoul National University. Retrieved February 6, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Facts". Seoul National University. April 1, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  4. ^ "Symbols & Identity | Overview | About SNU | SNU".
  5. ^ "Is the prestige of Seoul National University all it's hyped up to be?". Korea Joongang Daily. 2022-09-24. Retrieved 2023-08-22.
  6. ^ "Best Investment to SNU Students". 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2011-02-20.
  7. ^ SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY. "1st Harry B. ANSTED - History of Office - President's Office - About SNU - SNU". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  8. ^ "History of the College of Pharmacy". SNU College of Pharmacy website. Retrieved July 24, 2005.
  9. ^ "서울대병원, 6.25전쟁 참전 용사들을 위한 추모제 가져". Seoul National University Hospital. 2010-06-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
  10. ^ Park, Jin (2015). 박진의 종로이야기 [Story of Jongno by Park Jin] (in Korean). Star Books. ISBN 9791157954070.
  11. ^ Sang, Hojun (2020-07-25). "박정희·노무현도 즐긴 태릉 골프장…"동대문 야구장 같은 곳"" [Taerung golf course where park chung hee and roh moo hyun visited. Just like Dongdaemun baseball stadium]. JoongAng Ilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 2021-08-30.
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  13. ^ "Seoul Nat'l Univ. Asked to Build 2nd Campus in Sejong City". Donga Ilbo. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
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  15. ^ Kang, Shin-who (27 June 2010). "University campuses in Sejong City unlikely". Korea Times. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
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  24. ^ "History: Kyujanggak". Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  25. ^ "서울대학교 | 서울대학교박물관".
  26. ^ "서울대학교미술관".
  27. ^ Gwanaksa
  28. ^ "대학신문". 대학신문.
  29. ^ "대학신문".
  30. ^ Han, Dongsook; Bae, Kwangbin; Sohn, Hosung (2012). "Estimating the university prestige effect in South Korea's labor market". KEDI Journal of Educational Policy. Korean Education Development Institute. 9 (2): 383–396. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  31. ^ Shin, Ha-young (20 December 2013). "나는 총장이다대학의 별 총장…서울대 출신 24.3% 최다 (Nearly 1 in 4 Korean University Presidents are SNU Alumni)". E Daily. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  32. ^ Kang, Shin-who (30 May 2010). "Science High Schools Dominate Scholarship". Korea Times. Korea Times. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
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  52. ^ "Seoul National University College of Medicine: World Ranking". Seoul National University. Archived from the original on 2011-04-01. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
  53. ^ Won, Pia (2009-07-16). "SNU Ranked World's Top 5th in Producing Global CEOs". Retrieved 2009-08-19.
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Further reading