Seoul Campus

2. Seoul Experience on Slum Upgrading

Date 2017-09-25 Writer ssunha
  • Urban Planning
  • Prof. Name Myunggu Kang
  • 2017-09-25
 <Slum Upgrading Module 3>
We reviewed slum upgrading and it may look easy. But in the real world, slum upgrading is a very difficult and complex process. So I will show you some issues in slum upgrading.
The first is that there are two viewpoints on slums. One of the problems is that the current residents in the slums are from another area and the land is owned either by other people, private entities, the government, or the public
So in this case, the slum dwellers are technically illegal occupants.  So the main issue here is the legality of the residents and how this problem can be fixed. Another issue is that of urban illness.
Unfortunately, the statistics show that the slum areas tend to have a high rate of crime and disease. So something is needed to be done in order to alleviate such problems. Because there are slums, providing the proper infrastructure where needed is made difficult.
Some view slums as an obstacle to development. So in this viewpoint, the natural conclusion is to clean up the area. But there is another viewpoint. The other viewpoint is that the slum dwellers are poor. The people in slums are poor, impoverished, suffering from lack of resources and money and that’s why they end up in the slum area.
And also being disadvantaged, they have less education and work experience on average so it’s harder for them to find jobs or get better education and treatment. These people are deprived, so the natural conclusion is to help these people and an inclusive development is required.
I think that each of these viewpoints has its own strong rationale. The criminal and illegal issues here are problems that need fixing. And here, we have to help those in deprivation to provide opportunities to improve the quality of life. So in my view, these viewpoints are not contradicting, but both essential.
The point here is that we need both approaches. The second thing is that even though a slum usually happens in a city and that it could be considered to be a responsibility of the city government, but the problem is actually beyond the capacity of a municipality.
Here is an example of Seoul. In the 1970’s, about three million people have come to Seoul from outside the city.  The number here is bigger than the population of Seoul then. It continues for three decades, until new town outside of Seoul is established.  So as you can see, Seoul’s population was about two million and became ten million. but additional seven or eight million people came into Seoul from the outside.
This is not solely the responsibility of the municipality. So a state or national government must put in more resources and effort to fix this problem with the municipality. This is not a problem that can be solved solely by the city government. And there is another problem in slum upgrading.

When a slum is upgraded, we hope to provide better quality of life for the low income people living there. This is what we want to achieve. We want the low income welfare to increase when we upgrade slums. But in the real world, often times it is the case that more affluent people come into the area when the area is improved.
There is an inherent conflict between upgrading and displacement. There is a possibility that if one place becomes more livable, more rich people want to use that place and low income people are displaced into another slum area.

If a slum is upgraded, the value of place is increased and indigenous low income dwellers cannot afford the place without additional care. So for a successful slum upgrading, economic development should be accompanied. So slum upgrading under the surface is that we need both clean up and inclusion. Just one of the two viewpoints is not enough. The second thing is that the state or national government is also responsible for slum upgrading especially because rapidly expanding urbanization calls for a national policy.
For the success of slum upgrading, we have to provide some economic opportunity for low income people. We need an economic development policy to complete the upgrading of slums. City-wide, or metropolitan-wide approach is also required because slums tend to expand and sprawl outside the boundaries of the municipality. So in many cases, the city governments in the surrounding areas should work in collaboration with one another to upgrade the slum area.

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