Seoul Campus

1. Seoul’s Land Readjustment with Gangnam Development

Date 2017-09-25 Writer ssunha
  • Urban Planning
  • Prof. Name Myunggu Kang
  • 2017-09-25
<Land Readjustment Module 1>
Hello, everyone. I hope you enjoyed the last week’s presentation on the overview of Seoul’s development history.
As you saw, Seoul has experienced a very rapid change over the last half of the century. This week we will talk about how to accommodate those changes, especially in terms of the land issue.

Today I will go over the backgrounds and explain the concept of land readjustment, which was the major tool in the development of Seoul’s urban lands. Thirdly, I will give you an overview on the Seoul Land Readjustment Project and review Gangnam’s development as an exemplary case of the Land Readjustment Project. And lastly, I will end the lecture with some concluding remarks.


As I’ve said before, Seoul’s rapid growth of population and economic activities were the most important change that the city has underwent, and the main issue in its development was to accommodate to the growing population and business activities. This week, we will talk about the development of new urban lands. With the rapid growth of business activities, the development of new land for housing, commercial and industrial uses was required.

Here, I emphasize the term ‘urban land’ because it does not refer to the land in its natural state, but a land that has been developed properly with sufficient infrastructure, including things like transportation, water, electricity and communication. The land should be equipped with proper infrastructure, and only then can we use the lands for urban purposes. So this week, I will go over how the urban lands were developed in Seoul.

Again, this is how the population has changed over the years. As you see, the population was 2.4 million until the 1960’s, but the population grew very rapidly up to more than 10 million by the 1990’s. This meant that Seoul’s population grew by around 300 thousand every year for thirty years, and the preparations needed to be made for the rapid growth of population.

Another interesting point is this red line. This is the population growth of the Seoul’s metropolitan area, which indicates the population growth of Seoul city and the surrounding areas. As you see, the population kept increasing over and over until it reached over 20 million.
The population of Seoul’s metropolitan area, which was the center for economic activities, continued to grow with the New Town Development outside of Seoul, while the population of Seoul city itself remained stable since the 1990’s.

Back to Seoul, we had to prepare for the drastic increase of population. With the rapid population growth and the shortage of urban lands, the citizens of Seoul suffered from bad living conditions. As you see, this is a picture of the slum area near Cheonggyecheon.
That area didn’t have infrastructure. They had no water supply system, no sewer system, no sanitation and no electricity. Their living conditions were very poor and the degradation of the environment was getting worse and worse, so the development of new urban land to support and accommodate the growing population and business activities was necessary.

Looking at Seoul’s housing stock from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, you can see that it was not until 1990 that housing units and household ratio became higher than 50% despite the average of 40 thousand housing units supplied annually. That means that more than the 50% of the households did not have a proper housing unit and that the quality and the quantity of the housing was a big problem. There was also another problem in terms of land price.

The price of urban lands continued to increase due to the growing demand of urban land and their limited availability. The drastic increase in land price was not exclusive to Seoul, but experienced by almost all the cities in Korea, and the stabilization of land prices became an issue. So the Seoul government decided to provide new urban lands that lead to the expansion of Seoul.

As you see in the picture, the yellow area, oldest area of Seoul, is small. But later, around the 1950’s, the city is a little bigger but still only around a 300 km² and includes mainly the northern part of the Han River. As you’ve seen in the last week’s lecture, Seoul expanded its boundaries and its size grew to 600 km², which remains the same to this day.

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