Seoul Campus

7. Seoul Experience on Slum Upgrading

Date 2017-09-25 Writer ssunha
  • Urban Planning
  • Prof. Name Myunggu Kang
  • 2017-09-25
 <Slum Upgrading Module 7>
We saw the concept of the slum and what slum upgrading means. And we also reviewed the historical experience of Seoul in terms of slum upgrading. So I’d like to conclude with some remarks. Although slum upgrading looks easy as I’ve said before, the actual process is quite complex and difficult and it raises many social conflicts. And one of the conflicts comes from the agreement. Because it involves upgrading the existing habitat we need agreement from the dwellers.

But as you can see, we didn’t have the dwellers’ agreements for redevelopment up until the 1988 although we had over two thirds of land and building owners’ approval. One of the reasons for the upgrading is the huge influx of inmigrants. As you saw earlier, Seoul received tones of people from the rest of country and it was hard to gain the agreement of newly settle inmigrants.

So up until 1988, district designation had been done by the government. After 1988 you can see that over 90% agreement from the land and building owners was required for the designation and implementation. It was because during that time there were lots of requests from citizens who wanted their voices reflected in district designation and implementation.

But after the 1990’s the agreement standard decreased to just requiring agreement from two thirds of land and building owners for the designation and implementation. It was partly because if the standards were raised there were some positive and negative effects. If the standard is raised it’s good for just a few people’s voices but causes problems with the majority of the people.
If the standard is lowered the problem happens vice versa. There is no right answer to this problem but two thirds seems to be quite a good indicator when looking at Seoul’s experience. There is also housing size regulation for affordability. Affordability had been a big issue especially in slum upgrading as it is for low income people.

One of the major ways to secure affordability is that we set a specific housing size requirement. Until 1984 over 50% of all built housing units were under the national standard housing size, which was about 85 m² for now. Later on, the affordable housing unit increased over 60% in 1988, and it increased over 80% of all built households in 1991.

Of which more than 50% should be built smaller than 60 m². Positive effects of slum upgrading and redevelopment. Redevelopment contributed to housing supply of more than double housing units in the sum that had been demolished. So we built more than double, and even triple, the number of demolished buildings.

It accounted for 10% of new housing supply and 20% in the 1990’s especially with the partnership development scheme. It had significantly ameliorated Seoul’s chronic housing shortage problem. Also it had enhanced the overall quality of Seoul’s housing stock, which would eventually benefit low-income people through the filtering effect of the housing market.

Because we demolished low standard housing units to build better houses we could move more people to a better housing condition. The remarkable housing supply had contributed to keeping housing and general consumer prices stable for the general public. It is another big impact because Seoul suffered from huge increase in housing prices, with this high volume of supply we could stabilize the housing price and also help to stabilize the general consumer price. Still there are some concerns because the substandard housing units had diminished which were Seoul’s low-income housing stock and it was critical to the tenants of SHR districts.

We demolished low quality substandard housing units but those housing units were used by the low-income people so the concern for low-income people began to grow. So the government made sure that tenants were given the opportunity to rent newly built small units or to move to public low-income rental housing but this was neither affordable nor in a good location for some tenants.

So we needed a more active measure to help the low-income people. And another big concern was the erosion of social ties in communities. Basically the redevelopment scheme involves demolishing the whole area so that it is rebuilt, but during the construction  Period sometimes the slum communities are demolished also.

So we also need to be concerned about building communities. Another problem was that as density increased with building of more than double housing units the area’s road network became congested and the water and sewer infrastructure also had to be re-examined as well as schools, parks, and other infrastructure that were lacking as the project developed. As partnership development scheme was a private development, the responsibility to provide proper public service were often neglected.

This affected the neighboring infrastructure of the neighboring areas negatively. Another problem was the speculation. Because it is a redevelopment, throughout the redevelopment the land and housing value increase so there is the possibility of speculation. And also we went over the issue of corruption of owner’s association.

The owner’s association is the key driving force behind the redevelopment but some associations has problems of corruption which leads to low quality construction and other problems. So we also need to fix or have some countermeasure to overcome these issues. This is a snapshot of housing improvement comparing 1960 to 2010 in Seoul.

As you can see more than half of the household lived in one-room housing in 1960. One-room here means literally one room. That means there is no bathroom, kitchen or extra dining room. They only have one room in which to carry out their daily lives such as cooking or others.

The average persons per room was 3. In terms of the UN-Habitat standard, on average most of Seoul’s population lived in a slum area. And housing area per capita was 3.3, which was very small. But in 2010, as you can see, about 44% of households lived in three-room housing.

It’s quite improved. And average person per room is 1. And housing area per capita 23.3m². But interestingly, you can see that the housing area per capita for single housing is 20 while it is about 26m² for apartments. When we imagine a single house we may think of one big house but there are also small single houses that are categorized as a slum.
So in terms of the physical condition of housing, the apartments are a bit better. So, this week we reviewed the basics of slum upgrading. What a slum is and what slum upgrading means. And also we reviewed Seoul’s experience of slum upgrading. Through this experience, I hope there will be some implication for slum upgrading in cities of the developing world that have problems with expanding slums. So I hope this lesson will help make your city a better place.

Related Contents

Total Courses