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.

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.