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

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

Call for papers: Local transformations in urban Asia (CLOSED)

With Kim Su
Asian Studies, 9(1)
Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana | Ljubljana | 2021 | ISSN 2232-5131

The future of Asia seems to largely depend on the effective management of cities and metropolitan regions. Emerging approaches to urban governance in Asia, addressing social, economic and environmental challenges in a more sustainable way, are well acknowledged. Competition and global aspirations of cities in Asia are at the same time considered major drivers of their urban growth. Less attention, however, is placed on the consequences of urban growth on the everyday life in localities. These are not only passive recipients but also as active agents, capable of responding to competition and global aspirations of cities. Moreover, localities are relevant for their growing importance for inclusive urban governance, which aims to foster community development, collaborative economies, grassroots placemaking or expansion of local autonomy. The 2021 special issue of Asian Studies journal, therefore, aims to explore the diverse consequences of urban growth on the transformation of localities in urban Asia by addressing the following key questions:

● How does urban growth affect everyday life in localities across Asia?
● How do localities sustain or resist competition and global aspirations of cities in Asia?
● What is the importance of localities for building just and sustainable cities in Asia?

The special issue aims to bring together contributions from scholars in human geography, urban and regional planning, environmental management, landscape architecture, urban sociology and anthropology, cultural studies or political sciences, which can contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the local transformations in urban Asia. It aims to focus on residential neighbourhoods, traditional commercial areas and markets, streets and alleys or urban parks, for instance, to explore how everyday practices and shared identities, embedded in localities, affect and are affected by the urban change. These localities are seldom part of global financial centres, shopping malls or speculative mega projects but belong to multifaceted civic spaces, where diverse social groups can mingle and coexist.

Next from its focus on a comprehensive understanding of localities, the special issue also wants to engage with a locally informed understanding of the local transformations in urban Asia. Cities in Asia were often studied in relation to and based on the methodological tools and explanatory frameworks, borrowed from the Global North, without challenging their relevance for particular Asian urban contexts. This not only restricts the understanding of cities in Asia but also possibilities to challenge general urban theory. The special issue, therefore, aims to bring together contributions that critically address the local transformation in urban Asia while challenging established methodological tools within Asian urban contexts. Theoretical or empirical contributions are welcome from scholars, researchers, PhD students and other experts, particularly from those using a qualitative research approach.

Previously unpublished original contributions should be submitted online by July 1st, 2020 via the journal’s website. Additional information available here.

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