Between the state and citizens: Changing governance of intermediary organisations for inclusive and sustainable urban regeneration in Seoul

With Kim Kon and Krystallia Kamvasinou
Land Use Policy, 105
Elsevier | Amsterdam | 2021 | ISSN 0264-8377

Cities across East Asia once experienced rapid economic growth and urban development under a strong interventionist state. The recent economic slowdown and political changes have pressured them to find alternatives to the previous state-led or market-driven urban development. New forms of participatory governance have been devised to mobilise citizen participation in decision-making. Citizen participation, however, is not simply about direct interactions between the state and citizens. It is also guided and facilitated by intermediary organisations that are state- or self-funded bodies working between the state and citizens. Seoul in South Korea is a case in point. Over the past decade, Seoul Metropolitan Government has institutionalised intermediary organisations to expand citizen participation in diverse areas of urban life. In urban development, a more inclusive approach has been put forward through new partnerships between government, intermediary organisations, and citizens. In this article, a case study of such partnership is critically examined. Urban regeneration in the Changsin-Sungin Area shows two meaningful changes in the governance of the intermediary organisation. The first change occurred when the intermediary organisation recruited residents as staff members and helped them to create a new local cooperative. The second change happened when the local cooperative took over the role of the intermediary organisation. Analysis of these changes revealed that intermediaries have a contradictory role in urban regeneration. On the one hand, the intermediary intervention has expanded citizen participation and improved consistently the engagement of the community of practice. On the other hand, intermediary intervention has served to instrumentalise citizen participation and constrain the growth of an autonomous community of practice while helping the state to retain control over urban regeneration. In this sense, the intermediary-led participation contains seeds of yet-to-be realised potential, albeit with the current flaws, for more inclusive and sustainable urban regeneration, which this study recognises as an integral part of emerging post-developmental urbanisation in South Korea.

Source: doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105433.

Social mobilisation in localities and urban change in South Korea: The evolution of the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement in Seoul

Asian Studies, 9(1), pp. 317-343
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2021 | ISSN 2232-5131

South Korea experienced rapid economic and urban growth in the past that was driven by an interventionist state and speculative markets, and citizens were largely excluded from decision making. Urban change also used to be characterized by the large-scale demolition of poor neighbourhoods and forced evictions of the residents. As a result, different forms of social mobilization emerged in localities, aiming to protect the interests of the residents and local communities, and claim their collective right to the city. The article examines the evolution of the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement in Seoul as a case of social mobilization in localities. The qualitative case study is based on a longitudinal analysis of causes for its emergence, aims, organization and practice of the community movement to better understand its importance for urban change in South Korea. The results of the study show that the community movement strengthened community building and contributed to urban change at different levels. They also reveal the contradictory relation between the state and community movements, which must maintain their financial, organizational and political autonomy while collaborating with the state to achieve their aims. In doing so, the Geumho-Haengdang-Hawangsimni community movement has successfully maintained its autonomy, for which it can be considered a good example of autonomous and sustainable community building in cities.

Source: doi.org/10.4312/as.2021.9.1.317-343.

Sharing Seoul: Appropriating alleys as communal space through localized sharing practices

With Cho Im Sik
Built Environment, 46(1), pp. 99-114
Alexandrine Press | Oxon | 2020 | ISSN 0263-7960

Sharing practices are an important part of urban life. This article examines the appropriation of alleys as communal space to understand how sharing practices are embedded in localities, how communal space is constituted and maintained, and how this sustains communal life. In this way, the article aims to understand the spatial dimension of sharing practices, and the role of communal space in strengthening social relationship networks and urban sustainability. Seowon Maeul and Samdeok Maeul in Seoul are compared in terms of their urban regeneration approaches, community engagement in planning, street improvement, and the consequences that the transformation had on the appropriation of alleys as communal space. The research findings show that community engagement in planning is as important as the provision of public space if streets are to be appropriated as communal space. Community engagement has changed residents’ perception and use of alleys as a shared resource in the neighbourhood by improving their capacity to act collectively and collaborate with other stakeholders in addressing problems and opportunities in cities.

Source: doi.org/10.2148/benv.46.1.99

Deciding together: Citizen participation in planning the neighbourhood improvement in Seoul and Singapore

With Cho Im Sik and Kim Su
Asia Review, 8(2), pp. 62-102
Seoul National University Asia Center | Seoul | 2019 | ISSN 2234-0386

Cities in East Asia are faced with growing social, economic and environmental risks. National and local governments are, hence, looking for novel policies that could improve the long-term capacity of cities to address these risks more comprehensively and effectively. Citizen participation and neighbourhood improvement are both considered playing a key role in building more inclusive and sustainable cities. This article compares the transformation of Samdeok Maeul in Seoul and Tampines in Singapore to better understand the importance of citizen participation in planning the neighbourhood improvement, and its consequences on urban development in general. Both cases represent a similar shift from previous state-led towards participatory planning. The research follows a case-oriented qualitative approach. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with major stakeholders, participant observation, expert workshops, and review of secondary resources. The research findings suggest that in both cases the residents were able to affect neighbourhood improvement through community engagement in the planning process. At the same time, the research findings imply that the state remains largely in control over the process, which indicates the challenges that need to be considered in order to empower communities in Seoul and Singapore in the long run.

Source: doi.org/10.24987/SNUACAR.2019.02.8.2.65

Streets as spaces of community building: A case study of urban regeneration in Samdeok Maeul, Seoul

Asian Studies, 6(2), pp. 231-251
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2018 | ISSN 2232-5131

Streets play rather diverse roles in the everyday lives of cities, which have changed considerably in recent decades. The South Korean capital of Seoul is no exception in this regard. Streets once used to be traditional centres of social and economic life, which thus affected the urban structure and identity of the city. The rapid growth of motorised traffic along with market-driven urban development gradually transformed the streets into traffic corridors, with a very limited role in reproducing and maintaining the communal life in localities. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and civil society, however, recently increased their efforts to improve walkability and recover streets as a part of public life in the city. The urban regeneration of Samdeok Maeul is an example of these efforts, where street renewal was carried out with of an aim of raising the quality of the living environment as well as enhancing community building. The case study of Samdeok Maeul can in this regard contribute to a better understanding of streets as spaces of community building as well as community-based urban regeneration, and the role of different stakeholders in it. The research results show that urban regeneration strengthened the communal importance of streets in Samdeok Maeul, which was mainly a result of civic participation in urban regeneration rather than the actual street renewal. Partnerships, which are in this way established between public institutions, civil society and residents, could lead towards socially more inclusive, just and sustainable urban development in Seoul and beyond.

Source: doi.org/10.4312/as.2018.6.2.231-251

Transformation of deprived urban areas and social sustainability: A comparative study of urban regeneration and urban redevelopment in Barcelona and Seoul

Urbani izziv, 29(1), pp. 30-41
Urban Planning institute of the Republic of Slovenia | Ljubljana | 2018 | ISSN 0353-6483

The transformation of deprived urban areas is important for strengthening social sustainability in particular localities, and it is also instrumental in attracting new investments to cities. Speculative urban development, however, often ignores the social importance of localities and considers them mere economic assets that can be stripped of historical, social, and symbolic meaning and turned into easily marketed commodities. This article examines the somewhat contradictory role of the transformation of deprived urban areas in cities. It compares Barcelona and Seoul, two cities with different historical, cultural, and institutional contexts. The 22@ Activity District in Poblenou and Wangsimni New Town are explored as case studies to understand how urban regeneration and urban redevelopment are embedded in a particular locality and what consequences they have on social sustainability. Although the two cases differ in terms of planning approach, stakeholders, and institutional contexts, the findings suggest that the consequences for social sustainability were similar in both. The article argues that declining social cohesion and a lack of citizen participation were a consequence of speculative urban development, in which urban regeneration and urban redevelopment were instrumentalized to attract investments, strengthen economic competitiveness, and improve the city’s global appeal rather than address diverse local challenges.

Source: 10.5379/urbani-izziv-2018-29-01-003

Comparing transformation of deprived mixed-use areas in Seoul: Community building in traditional industrial clusters

With Cho Ha-young
The Entrepreneurial City, pp. 370-381
Hendrik Tieben, Yan Geng and Francesco Rossini (eds.)
International Forum on Urbanism and The Chinese University of Hong Kong | Hong Kong | 2017 | ISBN 978-962-8272-33-4

Cities in East Asia are some of the world’s largest urban agglomerations. Their growth is a result of rapid economic and urban development, where little attention was paid to the environmental or social consequences in the past. In the aftermath of the global economic slowdown, these approaches do not work anymore, and cities are faced with growing social and economic uncertainties. Local governments are thus looking for new urban policies to address these uncertainties in a more comprehensive and sustainable way. Seoul is no exception in this regard. Seoul Metropolitan Government introduced new urban policies, which aim to strengthen social cohesion and contribute to more sustainable economic and urban development. Urban regeneration of deprived urban areas plays a key role in these efforts.

This study takes Sangwangsimni and Haebangchon in Seoul as a case study to better understand the changing approaches of Seoul Metropolitan Government to transform deprived mixed-used areas and consequences of these approaches on traditional industries. The authors have conducted policy analysis and in-depth interviews with residents, local business, civic groups, experts and public officials, involved in the transformation of both localities. The research results show that the local government failed to recognise the importance of traditional industries in Sangwangsimni, which led to their decline. In Haebangchon, on the contrary, traditional industries are recognised as important assets, which will be preserved. This change came largely as a result of an emerging partnership between the local government and different stakeholders in the locality.

Source: Academia.edu

Recovering streets as communal space in localities: Urban regeneration of Samdeok Town in Seoul

With Park Hayun
Crossroads: Asian Streets in the Dynamics of Change, pp. 8-17
Heng Chye Kiang and Zhang Ye (eds.)
School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore | Singapore | 2016 | ISBN 978-981-11-1812-8

Cities are faced with growing social and economic disparities, environmental problems and political tensions, which erode their capacity to effectively cope with social, economic and environmental risks. Community-based urban regeneration has been recognised as one of the key approaches that can help cities to achieve a socially inclusive and environmentally balanced urban development. While different views exist on the role of communal space for successful urban regeneration, recovery of local streets, plazas or parks is recognised to play a vital role in bringing together residents with different economic, social and cultural backgrounds. This is seen as an important step towards sustainable development of cities.

Seoul Metropolitan Government has recently placed community building and urban regeneration at the centre of their efforts to address social, economic and environmental challenges in the city. Community-based urban regeneration is expected to improve built environment as well as restore communal life and shared identities in localities. In result, there is also a growing interest in Seoul in recovering streets as spaces of everyday life.

This paper explores urban regeneration of Samdeok Town to understand the changing role of streets as communal space in localities. By taking the Residential Environment Management Project as a case study, this research focuses on how the community-building and urban regeneration affect perception of streets among the residents and their appropriation of streets as communal space in Samdeok Town. The authors conducted extensive fieldwork and attended community workshops as well as interviews with several residents, urban planners, community activists and researchers. The research results show that the perception of streets has been largely changed and the residents have successfully recovered them as their communal space, which played the key role in successful community-based urban regeneration of Samdeok Town.

Source: Academia.edu

Local responses to market-driven urban development in global cities

Teorija in praksa, 51, pp. 221-240
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2014 | ISSN 0040-3598

Urban development has become an important instrument of neoliberal urban policy by which cities are trying to respond to global pressures and opportunities. Barcelona and Seoul are taken as case studies with different historical, cultural and institutional background, yet similar when it comes to how neoliberal urban policy and market-driven urban development are embedded into particular localities. The paper compares transformation of Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni in Seoul in terms of planning approach, consequences on the everyday life in locality and local responses to market-driven urban development. Although its outcomes in Poblenou and Wangsimni were rather similar, the local responses were quite different. While the residents in Poblenou saw transformation of the neighbourhood as a threat to their collective identity, the residents in Wangsimni initially perceived it as an opportunity to improve their economic situation. The paper argues that local responses to market-driven urban development in this way reveal what Mlinar calls the mutual interdependence between individuation and globalisation. Although similar structural processes transform localities around the world, the later remain an important source of social and urban change in global cities.

Source: dlib.s/details/URN:NBN:SI:DOC-FPJ1AGLZ

Social role of urban parks in global cities: a case study of Cheonggyecheon Restoration, Seoul and Diagonal Mar Park, Barcelona

Asian Urban Places, pp. 7-15
Heng Chye Kiang, Oscar Carracedo García-Villalba and Zhang Ye (eds.)
School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore | Singapore | 2014 | ISBN 978-981-09-3687-7

Provision of urban parks is considered to be an important instrument, which helps addressing social and territorial cohesion in global cities. Yet local governments strive to create new investment opportunities for global capital and provide spectacle for expanding tourism and cultural industries, which often makes urban parks into an instrument of competition between global cities rather than an effective approach, dealing with their social and environmental problems. Speculative urban development considers urban parks merely as an economic asset, which can be stripped off their social meanings, and turned into a commodity that can easily be marketed and consumed.

The paper compares Cheonggyecheon Restoration in Seoul and Diagonal Mar Park in Barcelona to explore the changing social role of urban parks as urban commons and meaningful communal space in global cities. Cheonggyecheon is a large urban park in the downtown Seoul, constructed after the Cheonggye Expressway was demolished and an ancient stream was recovered on its place. It quickly became a popular public space and a new tourist attraction in Seoul. Diagonal Mar Park, constructed on a former industrial site in Barcelona, is less centrally located and is one among many urban parks in the city. Although the two parks seem to have little in common at first sight, the paper argues that the instrumentalisation of Cheonggyecheon and Diagonal Mar Park, in order to improve economic competitiveness and global appeal in Seoul and Barcelona, has negatively affected their social role in a similar way.

Source: Academia.edu