4. Overview on Seoul Urban Planning Experience
Rapidly Urbanizing World and Overview on Seoul Urban Planning Experience
<Urban Planning Module 4>
Let’s take a look at Seoul’s transformation from 1960 to 2010. This is one of the articles that articulates the situation of the time. During that time Seoul’s unemployment rate was 25 percent and the per capita GNP was well under hundred dollars. And we suffered from electricity generation shortage and we had no gas and no mineral resources. We exported 20 million per year, but imported 200 million per year. This article concluded that there is no possibility of urban economic miracle.
But the miracle happened. The thick line shows that Korea was one of the lowest ranked countries but nowadays Korea is now one of the leading countries. So we believe that all countries can make the same developments. Even the countries at the bottom of the graph can become a highly developed country. This is the picture of Seoul five decades ago. You can see the issues of congestion, pollution, water shortage and slums just 50 years ago. But nowadays Seoul is viewed as one of the vital place. Seoul is regarded as a place of high tech industry, a historical place and ecological place with lots of cultural events.
The question is how Seoul transformed from one of the poorest cities to an affluent and vibrant city. These are some of the changes in the numbers. The first thing I’d say is the big jump in the life expectancy. Life expectancy increased from 51 in 1960 to 81 in 2010. On the average, citizens of Seoul live 30 years longer than the previous generation. And infant death rate also dropped dramatically from 83 to 3. In 1945, one of ten babies were dead but nowadays, hypothetically, no babies are dead when born. And the GNI per capita increased from under 100 to over 30,000. We also observed big improvements in air and water quality. In terms of housing, over 50% of households lived in a one-room housing. This meant that this one room was literally just the one room with no bathroom, no kitchen and no extra rooms. The one-room living condition was quite miserable but nowadays the average household lives in a 3 bedroom housing.
And the physical development also shows that we improved the urban land development from 130 to 260 And we supplied a lot of housing units and we also saw improvement in the public space. Especially, the green space per capita improved from 4 to around 6. Compared to the population growth, the green space per capita improvement was a huge development. This picture shows the quality of rivers. Up to the 1980’s the river quality degraded and it was a big problem. But after the 1980’s we put in a lot of effort to improve the river quality nowadays we have very safe and clean river water and this water resource became the base for a sustainable development.