This is a first step in fighting type 2 diabetes, and with this kind of activity every person has to get some idea about the vulnerability of type 2 diabetes in Korea. Asia has two thirds of people with diabetes in the world, and Asia is the epicentre of diabetes nowadays, so we need our own programme for prevention and fighting diabetes.

Professor Kunho Yoon 
The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital
CCD Ambassador of Korea

Seoul is among the most population dense high-income cities in the world. With a population density of 10,400 per square kilometre, Seoul is almost twice that of New York and eight times greater than Rome.


At present, Seoul has a total of 2,278 green spaces (146.22km2), which accounts to approximately a quarter of the city’s total area (605.25 km2)

Increased cost of living

Inhabitants of Seoul are faced with high cost of living, for which the city was ranked 7th globally in 2019.

The diabetes challenge in Seoul

Seoul is an Asian megacity with a 9.9 million inhabitants. As the capital of the Republic of Korea, Seoul has grown to be one of the most economically powerful cities in the world. Korea is a highly urbanised society, and already today, 81% of people with diabetes live in urban areas. Like other countries in East Asia, Korea is facing future challenges managing care for an aging population. In 2050 an estimated 38.2 % of the population will be above the age of 65.

Today, 5 million people (>30 years of age) in Koreas are estimated to live with diabetes, and 38.1% of them are unaware of their condition.4 25% of adults in Korea are estimated to live with prediabetes.



Highlighting current challenges

The current situation of large numbers of undiagnosed people, people living with prediabetes and high levels of childhood obesity challenge social and economic sustainability of Korea and thus requires immediate action to halt the rise in in both obesity and diabetes.



The Cities Changing Diabetes partnership in Seoul consists of representatives from the city of Seoul, academic societies, including the Korean Diabetes Association (KDA), Korean Study of Obesity (KSSO), International Diabetes Federation (IDF), IDF West Pacific branch and the Embassy of Denmark in Korea. The head of each organisation in the partnership has appointed a representative from their organisation to the action committee of Seoul Cities Changing Diabetes programme. The city will soon start its quantitative and qualitative research with the purpose to ensure a better understanding of the social and cultural dynamics of the city and build an evidencebased action plan.

Seoul's partners

Korean Diabetes Association (KDA)

Korean Study of Obesity  (KSSO)

International Diabetes Federation (IDF)

IDF West Pacific branch

Embassy of Denmark, Korea


1. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2018). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision

2. Korean Statistical Information Service. 2017.

3. Data from National Statistical Office (NSO)

4. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8 edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017.

5. Noh, Junghyun. “The diabetes epidemic in Korea.” Endocrinology and Metabolism 31, no. 3 (2016): 349‑353. Applies to 2013.

6. Cities Changing Diabetes. Diabetes Projection Model for UK. Data on file. Novo Nordisk. In: Incentive, ed. Holte, Denmark 2017.

7. OECD, Applies to 2018.‑systems/obesityandtheeconomicsofpreventionfitnotfat‑koreakeyfacts.htm.