Urban change and local culture: responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni

Journal of Seoul Studies, 37, pp. 117-153
Institute of Seoul Studies | Seoul | 2009 | ISSN 1225-746x

Urban renewal is a process, which improves quality of life in cities and addresses disparities caused by past urban development at the local level. Yet cities have also become increasingly integrated at the global level. The competition between them influences the way a particular city reacts to pressures and opportunities of globalization. Urban renewal is therefore often instrumentalized by political elites and private investors for improvement of global status of a particular city, which may in turn result in undesired social, economic, environmental or political outcomes at the local level. Seoul is no exception in this regard. This paper deals with the urban renewal in Wangsimni, an old neighbourhood east of the downtown Seoul, in order to study how globalization affects the urban renewal, how urban renewal constrains everyday life in cities, and how the citizens respond to challenges caused by it. In the conclusion the article argues that local culture has been a major source of responses to urban renewal in Wangsimni, although in this particular case the actual outcomes of those responses were far from desired. Urban renewal in Wangsimni namely seems closer to developmentalism, characteristic for Seoul in the past, than to anticipated sustainable development of Seoul in the future.

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Restoration of the Cheonggye Stream in Seoul: global cities and collective space

Družboslovne razprave, 55, pp. 115-134
Slovenian Sociological Association | Ljubljana | 2007 | ISSN 0352-3608

The paper explores the broader social background of transformations that public space is undergoing amidst the conditions of transnational co-operation and growing competition among cities. The character of public space in global cities is becoming more homogenous and excluding due to its increasingly instrumental role in urban development. The importance of public space for the formation of a democratic and heterogeneous civil society is thereby being eroded. The paper tries to show how the recent restoration of the Cheonggye stream in Seoul in South Korea has influenced its social role and thus verify the assumption of the excluding nature of public space in global cities. The reasons why Cheonggyecheon is losing its past role of a place where civic society and local cultures were reproduced are summed up in the conclusion.

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