From commodities to community engagement: Localities and urban development in Seoul, Korea

With Kim Su
Exporting Urban Korea? Reconsidering the Korean Urban Development Experience, pp. 81-100
Park Se Hoon, Shin Hyun Bang, Kang Hyun Soo (eds.)
Routledge | London | 2021 | ISBN 978-036-74-9840-5

Exporting Urban Korea?Markets used to be the major drive behind the transformation of localities in Korea. The state facilitated the commodification of localities through property-led urban redevelopment, which resulted in the demolition of deprived residential areas, displacement of the residents, heightened social conflicts, and destruction of social relationship networks. At the same time, localities were sites of grassroots struggles that challenged the state and struggled against the commodification of localities. Recently, the state recognized the negative consequences of urban redevelopment and started to promote state-led urban regeneration to improve the living environment and restore communal life in the cities. This chapter examines the changing relations between the state, property markets and community and their role in the transformation of localities and urban development in Seoul. The comparison of Songhak Maeul and Seowon Maeul shows that the state involvement had a significant impact on the transformation of localities. While the role of state is important, the chapter also argues that the significance of grassroots struggles in the transformation of localities should not be overlooked. Recognizing localities as sites of community engagement could contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of urban development and international development cooperation in Korea, as their success has often been attributed to the state and property markets without much consideration of the state–community relationship in building sustainable cities.

Source: doi.org/10.4324/9781003047599.

Urban change in East Asia: A comparison of civic participation in the residential neighbourhood improvement in South Korea and Singapore

With Cho Im Sik and Kim Su
Processes and Relations in East Asia, pp. 139-159
Andrej Bekeš, Jana S. Rošker, Zlatko Šabič (eds.)
University of Ljubljana Press | Ljubljana | 2019 | ISBN 978-961-06-0270-5

East AsiaDue to their successful social and economic development, South Korea and Singapore are known as two of the four Asian Tigers. In the past their industrialization and urbanization were steered by the developmental state, while civil society was largely excluded from decision making. Decades of rapid growth, however, have also contributed to social po- larization and degradation of the residential environment, which are among the major challenges for the cities in both countries. Over the last decade, civil society has become increasingly engaged in addressing these challenges along with the state. For this reason, it is important not only to know the degree of state involvement but also the relationship between the state and civil society if one is to understand the urban changes occurring in East Asia. State involvement and its evolving relationship with civil society are reflected in the provision and improvement of residential neighbourhoods. In this chapter, the authors compare civic participation in the context of residential neighbourhood improvement in South Korea and Singapore. The transformation of Samdeok Maeul in Seoul and Tampines in Singapore shows that the state has successfully involved the residents in the planning and management of neighbourhood improvement. At the same time, civic participation was strongly influenced by the state, which has negatively affected community building, as well as the sustainability of the neighbourhood improvement projects. Civic participation in the residential neighbourhood improvement in Seoul and Singapore in this sense reveals the opportunities, as well as challenges, related to more inclusive and sustainable neighbourhood management and urban governance in East Asia.

Source: doi.org/10.4312/9789610602699

Community-based urban development: Evolving urban paradigms in Singapore and Seoul

With Cho Im Sik
Springer | Singapore | 2017 | ISBN 978-981-10-1985-2

Community-based Urban DevelopmentThe book compares different approaches to urban development in Singapore and Seoul over the past decades, by focusing on community participation in the transformation of neighbourhoods and its impact on the built environment and communal life. Singapore and Seoul are known for their rapid economic growth and urbanisation under a strong control of developmental state in the past. However, these cities are at a critical crossroads of societal transformation, where participatory and community-based urban development is gaining importance. This new approach can be seen as a result of a changing relationship between the state and civil society, where an emerging partnership between both aims to overcome the limitations of earlier urban development. The book draws attention to the possibilities and challenges that these cities face while moving towards a more inclusive and socially sustainable post-developmental urbanisation. By applying a comparative perspective to understand the evolving urban paradigms in Singapore and Seoul, this unique and timely book offers insights for scholars, professionals and students interested in contemporary Asian urbanisation and its future trajectories.

Source: doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-1987-6

Lessons from Wangsimni: Traditional industrial clusters in Seoul as social and cultural assets

Beyond Seun-Sangga: 16 Ideas to go beyond big plans, pp. 124-143
Hyeri Park and Vitnarae Kang (eds.)
Space Books | Seoul | 2015 | ISBN 979-11-87071-00-6

beyond seun-sangga

The Seun Arcade area is one of the remaining traditional industrial clusters in downtown Seoul. Most of these clusters date back to the early modern or even pre-modern times and were established along the major roads of Jongno, Euljiro and the former Cheonggye Expressway. Due to the continued transformation of downtown Seoul over the past few decades, many of these original clusters have already disappeared. Their transformation has often been legitimised as a seemingly unavoidable improvement of what were seen as economically underdeveloped or underused, socially decayed, unsafe or even dangerous urban areas. These places were at the same time portrayed as the unsightly legacy of South Korea’s developmentalist past, which should be eradicated and replaced by a new efforts in urban development.

Over many years of on-going urban redevelopment, these traditional industrial cluster have rarely been recognised as important social and cultural assets. Traditional industrial clusters are not only productive, but also dense social networks, which are largely based on thick interpersonal bonds of trust, a strong sense of solidarity among the member, and a shared communal culture. At the same time, the traditional industrial clusters also form distinct cultural forms, which express a particular history of the city, as well as of citizens and their everyday life.

Wangsimni is perhaps not the most representative of many traditional industrial clusters in Seoul. Nevertheless, it had a rather long history of small-sized industrial site. Small workshops, mostly for the metal industry, used to be integrated with larger productive and social networks. Industry has always been deeply intertwined with the everyday life of the area. In this sense, the transformation of Wangsimni offers valuable lessons about traditional industrial clusters, unfortunately now lost, along with its associated communal culture and everyday life, as a results of large-scale urban redevelopment.

Source: Vmspace.com

Social cohesion and community gardens: comparing Slovenia and South Korea

Model Transfer of Social Ecology into Asian Territory, pp. 38-47
Alban Mannisi (ed.)
Zzac Book | Seoul | 2015 | ISBN 978-2-9535437-1-1

social ecologyCommunity gardens have gained a lot of attention over past years as an instrument of community-driven urban design, which can help cities address their social, economic and environmental problems. Although South Korea and Slovenia have not much in common at first sight, the Community Eco Urban Garden in Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, may provide a valuable example of not only how urban gardening improves the well-being of individuals, but also of how to integrate urban gardens into community-driven urban design in order to address larger social problems, such as lacking social cohesion and civic participation. Community gardens might be small in size, but they can play an important role in addressing negative social consequences of neoliberal policy, strengthening of social cohesion, and contributing to sustainable urban development.

Source: Issue.com

Transformation of Barcelona’s Eastern Waterfront: From the City Periphery to the Central Public Space in the City

City:Edge, pp. 51-59
Uroš Lobnik and Peter Šenk (eds.)
Založba Pivec & HAM Publications | Maribor | 2014 | ISBN 978-961-6897-65-5

The transformation of Barcelona’s eastern waterfront, between the Olympic Village, Poblenou and the new Forum, is a characteristic example of successful urban regeneration, where the former city periphery was developed into one of the central public spaces in the city. In order to fully understand urban regeneration process and its consequences on everyday life in the city, the paper examines both the urban planning approach and the historical and social background of the area. The large-scale transformation of the former periphery into a public space namely not only alters spatial relations, but it also affects social and symbolic relations in the city. The evolving civic awareness about importance of integrating the city periphery into everyday life in Barcelona contributed to the eventual success of urban regeneration.

Source: Založba Pivec

Legitimizing the Architecture of Edvard Ravnikar and Kim Swoo Geun. Between Regionalism and National Narratives

45+ Post-War Modern Architecture in Europe, pp. 13-24
Stephanie Herold and Biljana Stefanovska (eds.)
Forum Stadt- und Regionalplanung | Berlin | 2012 | ISBN 978-3-7983-2435-0

Slovenia and South Korea do not seem to have much in common at first sight. Yet both countries were affected in similar ways by economic, social and political changes during the post-war reconstruction. While Slovenia was a part of Tito’s communist Yugoslavia, general Park Chung-hee ruled South Korea. The new authoritarian regimes used every opportunity to consolidate their political power by controlling every bit of society. Architecture was no exception in this sense since the regimes systematically constructed and exploited important national projects to legitimize the dominant ideology.

The paper attempts to address some of the practices, which were to legitimize the architecture and consequently the dominant ideology in modernizing Slovenia and South Korea. It compares the architecture and legitimization of the Regional People’s Committee in Kranj in Slovenia and Buyeo National Museum in South Korea, designed by Edvard Ravnikar and Kim Swoo Geun, who were two of the most prominent modernist architects in each country. Although they eagerly followed the principles of modernist architecture, the two buildings were also affected by what the architects perceived as regional and national culture. It seems that the legitimization of architecture in this case was not framed only by personal experiences or cultural references of the architects but also by the dominant ideology, which in Yugoslavia favoured cultural diversity, while in South Korea it strived for a strong and uniform national culture.

Source: doi.org/10.14279/depositonce-3358

Urban regeneration in global Seoul: new approaches, old divides?

Viennese Contributions to Korean Studies II, pp. 185-204
Koreanologie am Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften, Universität Wien (eds.)
Praesens Verlag | Vienna | 2010 | ISBN 978-3-7069-0619-7

The Cheonggyecheon restoration, as the most known example of urban regeneration in Seoul, has drawn a lot of attention in Korea and abroad for its innovative approach. The restoration is often presented as a case that has noticeably improved quality of life and resolved growing social, economic and environmental disparities in the city. Yet the Cheonggyecheon restoration also plays an important strategic role as an instrument of urban policies, by which Seoul Metropolitan Government is trying to improve global competitiveness and global image of the city. In this paper we show that it is precisely the discourses and policies of globalization that have become not only a motor of urban regeneration, but also an important source of emerging social and spatial divides in Seoul. We argue that exclusion of local residents, caused by the Cheonggyecheon restoration, may lead towards decline of civic participation and alienation of the city as a common political agent of all citizens. Such undesired social, spatial and political outcomes may at the end prevail over the actual benefits of urban regeneration.

Source: Praesens.at

Local responses to global challenges: cultural context of urban change in Barcelona and Seoul

Založba FDV | Ljubljana | 2009, ISBN 978-961-235-386-5 | 2012, ISBN 978-961-235-501-2 (ePub)

Local Responses to Global ChallengesThe book Urban Change and Local culture in Barcelona and Seoul talks about how globalization influences everyday life in cities and about the importance of local culture for urban change. With a broad cross-cultural study of 22@ Activity District urban renewal in Poblenou in Barcelona and Wangsimni New Town urban redevelopment in Seoul the book reveals how structural inequalities on the global and national level influence everyday experience of both cities. Residents in Poblenou and Wangsimni actively respond to the changes in their everyday living environment, which are caused by the globalization, and in this way influence the transformation of both neighbourhoods. Contrary to a general belief that due to globalization cities are becoming more similar to each other, the book shows how local culture remains an important source of urban change in cities today, while being at the same time the source of their distinctiveness and diversity.

Purchase the book or download the English summary.

Cheonggyecheon restoration: bridging old, building new divides in global Seoul

Urban regeneration in New York, London and Seoul, pp. 216-229
Urban Regeneration Network (eds.)
Pixelhouse | Seoul | 2009 | ISBN 978-89-958897-5-6

The article shows that it is the discourses and policies of globalization that have become not only the motor of urban regeneration, but also the main source of growing social and spatial divides in cities. These divides are even more obvious in globalizing cities such as Seoul. In conclusion the article argue that exclusion of marginalised social groups, which emerges as a consequence of urban regeneration, leads towards declined participation of citizens in the process of urban governance and towards alienation of cities as shared political institutions. Such undesired outcomes of urban regeneration may at the end prevail over its benefits, as the case of the Cheonggyecheon restoration illustrates.

Purchase the book.