Seoul’s Urban Redevelopment Policy

Date 2015-06-25 Category Urban planning Updater scaadmin
Jae-Sub Yang
the Seoul Institute
Last Update

Background to Seoul’s Urban Redevelopment Project

In the mid-1960s Seoul began to take political measures, realizing the need for urban redevelopment projects. The following is an introduction to the background in urban redevelopment projects in terms of the social, environmental, physical, and economic aspects.

Social & Environmental Aspects

The need for urban redevelopment projects (downtown renewal projects) in Seoul first became apparent in the 1960s. Korea had regained social stability after the Korean War and one of the main tasks of the city administration was the development of its deteriorating downtown: the city had to be modernized before urban functions could be implemented. Downtown Seoul was vulnerable to fire at the time with wooden buildings being the main type of residence, and also lacking basic hygiene. In 1971, provisions related to urban redevelopment projects were established in the Urban Planning Act to boost safety, hygiene, and the aesthetic appeal of downtown.

Physical Aspects

In the early 1960s, the central part of Seoul had small irregular lots and narrow roads. Physical structures were overcrowded and chaotic. Korea was extremely impoverished, with political and social turmoil right after the Korean War and the physical environment of downtown areas in gradual decline. Slum areas had developed as illegal dwellings and other buildings were erected and inhabited by a massive number of poor people migrating into Seoul. Essentially, the downtown areas were congested until the 1960s with deteriorating traditional urban structures built during a period of poverty.
<Figure 1> Downtown Seoul, 1960s


Economic Aspects

With accelerating economic development in the 1970s, the headquarters of large firms such as banks and insurance companies were constructed downtown and the demand for office had space dramatically increased. A stimulus policy initiated by the government in the early 1980s to break through economic recession intertwined with demand for office spaces in Seoul, led to an office building boom through urban redevelopment projects. The Korean economy, spurred by the three-low boom (declining crude prices, international finance rate, and dollar depreciation) during a 10-year period, needed modern office spaces and jump started urban redevelopment projects.


Chronological Development

Seoul's urban redevelopment projects introduced the first related system in the 1970s; the project went through a massive promotional period in the 1980s and 1990s and faced a changing direction in the 2000s.  


1960-1970: Demolition of Downtown Areas & Modernization

A need for urban redevelopment projects was recognized in the 1960s, but projects were not implemented until the 1970s when the necessary systems and laws were in place. In 1971, provisions related to the downtown renewal projects that allowed collective reconstruction projects were established in the Urban Planning Act, and in 1973, the first 11 downtown districts were designated as redevelopment districts. In 1976, the first Urban Planning Act was established and active promotion began for the downtown renewal projects. In 1978, Seoul city established its first downtown redevelopment master plan targeting the area within the four major gates, and in 1979, it added the entire Mapo-ro area and supplemented the master plan. Political strategies during this period included the modernization of the downtown infrastructure, such as roads, parking lots, and parks, with buildings being demolished and high-rises taking their place.


The 1980s: Intensive Regulation & Suggestion of Redevelopment

In 1979, controls were intensified on the number of stories in buildings and density in order to control overcrowding the downtown area; in 1983, however, a downtown renewal project plan was announced which included new construction and expansion of existing facilities, and deregulation of the building-to-land ratio, floor area ratio, and usage restrictions as part of the preparations for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. These preparations included an area of about 600,000 m² (Approx. 180,000 pyeong) beside arterial roadways being designated as areas for reconstruction.

<Figure 2> The Plaza Hotel in the 1970s

<Figure 3> Standard Chartered Bank Korea in the 1980s

The 1990s: Searching for Ways to Prevent Decline in Downtown Areas

In 1994, the downtown redevelopment master plan was supplemented with plans to prevent any decline in downtown areas, including the sub-centers of Yeongdeungpo and Cheongnyangni in the Urban Master Plan for Seoul (1990). In 1996, floor-height planning for the downtown area was supplemented and the master plan partly modified in order to encourage construction of mixed-use buildings. The Urban Redevelopment Act, revised in July 1990, stipulated a method for small unit redevelopment, which was proposed for the Bukchang district in the 1994 Downtown Redevelopment Plan. In 1996, however, provisions related to small-unit redevelopment (Article 3.2 of the Enforcement Ordinance) were deleted when the Urban Redevelopment Act was revised and small-unit redevelopment methods lost their legal basis.

 <Figure 4> Seoul Finance Center in the 1990s

<Figure 5> SKT Tower in the 2000s

The 2000s: Policy Shift Towards Preservation of Historical & Cultural Characteristics

With the establishment of the Downtown Management Master Plan (2000), management of the area within the four major gates changed towards preserving historical and cultural characteristics. The 2001 Downtown Redevelopment Master Plan reflected and strengthened the aforementioned height limit, and either lifted redevelopment district designation for certain downtown areas or allowed switching to small-unit redevelopment methods. Districts with modern buildings were able to engage in conservation redevelopment.


The 2005 Master Plan reflected the changing circumstances from such plans as the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents in 2002 and the Downtown Development Plan in Accordance with Restoration of Cheonggye Stream in 2004, and introduced deregulation of oblique line limitations, 20m height restrictions, and an FAR (floor area ratio) incentive to promote finishing of incomplete projects. It also designated a wide area of small-unit renewal districts to ensure redevelopment projects considered downtown characteristics, and also enabled application of urban redevelopment projects in balanced development project districts.

The Master Plan established in 2010 provided small-unit redevelopment methods towards maintenance of downtown characteristics and functions with conservation of historical and cultural characteristics.  Moreover the plan included methods of revitalization and contributions to the creation of multi-nucleic spatial structures as political objectives, and expanded the range of application of urban redevelopment projects to the core center of the city.

<Table 1> Seoul Urban Redevelopment Policy Transitions


Main Event

Laws & Related Plans

Master Plan

The 1960s

Kyongin Expressway opened (1969)

• Improvement projects for poor areas included in the Urban Planning Act (1962)
• Revision of the Urban Planning Act (Established a basis for designating redevelopment districts)(1965)


The 1970s

Gyeongbu Expressway opened (1970)
Seoul Subway Line 1 opened (1974)


•Revision of the Urban Redevelopment Act (Redevelopment projects included in urban planning projects) (1971)
• Establishment of the first Urban Redevelopment Act (1976)
• Installation of the Urban Redevelopment Fund (1978)
•Strengthening of building height limits and density control to curb overcrowded urban development (1979)

•Establishment of a master plan for initial urban redevelopment (1978)
•Supplement to Master Plans for Urban Redevelopment (Mapo area added)(1979)

The 1980s

The 1988 Seoul Olympic Games/Seoul population exceeds 10 million (1988)


•Revision of the Urban Redevelopment Act (1982)
•Establishment of five-year plans for redevelopment projects
 (Preparation for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games) (1982)
•Urban redevelopment promotion plans  (1983)
•Easing of construction restrictions within redevelopment areas (major repairs, change of usage, reconstruction, etc.) (1989)

•Basic inspections towards improvement of master plans for urban redevelopment (1986)

The 1990s

Balanced development policy for Gangnam and Gangbuk


The Asian financial crisis (1997)

•Complete revision of the Urban Redevelopment Act  (1995)
•Maintenance of Urban Redevelopment Systems & Revitalization Plan (1998)


•Modification / supplementing of redevelopment master plan according to finalization of the Seoul urban master plan (1990)
•Modification/supplementing of the downtown redevelopment master plan (1996)

After 2000

Organization of Bukchon Hanok Village


The 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup (2002)
Organization of Seoul Plaza (2004)
Completion of the Cheonggye Stream Restoration Project
Organization of Gwanghwamun Plaza (2009)

•Establishment of the Seoul Urban Planning Ordinance (strengthening FAR) (2000)
•Downtown management planning (2000)
•Establishment of the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents (2002)
•Downtown development planning according to restoration of Cheonggye Stream (2004)
•Establishment of a comprehensive plan for urban recreation (2007)

• Revision of the master plan for urban redevelopment for 2010 (2004)
• Revision of the master plan for urban redevelopment for 2020 (2010)

 Source: Seoul, 2010, “Proposed Master Plan for Urban & Residential Redevelopment in Seoul 2020 - The Urban Redevelopment Sector”


Urban Redevelopment Policy as a Means to Actualize Urban Spatial Structures

In 1973, urban redevelopment projects were referred to as downtown renewal projects in accordance with the Urban Redevelopment Act. In 2002, however, this reference changed to “urban redevelopment projects” in accordance with the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents. In legal terms, urban redevelopment projects are defined as "projects that make effective use of land, such as commercial and industrial areas, and improve downtown and sub-center urban environments which require market revitalization or restoration of urban functions". These projects have been used as a means of actualizing urban spatial structures, including core systems proposed by city master plans and also as a means of expanding and redeveloping work-related spaces in the city core, such as businesses and commercial areas.

<Figure 6>  Conceptual Image of Urban Redevelopment Projects


The Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents

Urban redevelopment projects are enforced in accordance with the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents. The Act, which integrates housing redevelopment projects, reconstruction projects, and residential environment improvement projects, which were specific identification methods of 2002, was established towards systematic management of urban areas. The Act regulates details necessary for improving deteriorated unauthorized housing as well as redeveloping deteriorated residential areas or those that require a restoration of urban functions.

<Figure 7> Changes to Laws Related to Urban Redevelopment Projects

Source: Seoul Planning Portal

Master Plan for Urban Redevelopment Projects

Seoul's Master Plan is in response to statutory requirements under the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents (Articles 3 and 8 of its Enforcement Decree), with feasibility reviewed every five years for redevelopment. The plan lays down a physical framework and political strategies for urban redevelopment projects, where urban redevelopment projects in Seoul are promoted in accordance with policy strategies proposed by the master plan.

<Table 1> Changes to Urban Redevelopment Project Master Plan for Seoul




‧First downtown redevelopment master plan established

  1979 - 1st Revision

‧ Addition of Mapo-ro

  1994 - 2nd Revision

‧ Addition of Yeongdeungpo, Cheongnyangri
‧ Designation of mandatory/recommended housing complex districts

  1996 - 3rd Revision

‧ Housing complex guideline incentives, height limits loosened
‧ First draft of environmental design guidelines

  2001 - 4th Revision

‧ Addition of Yongsan as sub-center
‧ Strengthening of height limits and density, recovery/conservation redevelopment, guidelines  drawn up for each downtown district

  2005 - 5th Revision

‧ Revision of the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents in 2002
‧ Addition of new towns / Balanced Development Projects, deregulation of height limits and incentives for districts with estimated reconstruction of small units

  2010 - 6th Revision

‧ Application of development guidelines for each area, comprehensive plan for re-creation of downtown area (2007)
‧ Expansion of urban redevelopment projects outside downtown and sub-center areas

 Source: Seoul, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas 2020 – The Urban Redevelopment Sector


Project Implementation Methods

Urban redevelopment projects are implemented in three phases: Estimated districts for redevelopment → designation of districts for redevelopment → implementation plans for each project district. The plan determines an approximate range of districts (estimated redevelopment districts) to be designated as urban redevelopment districts, while the Seoul city government designates districts for redevelopment in response to requests and reviews the administrative district within the estimated redevelopment districts. Following the designation of districts for redevelopment, implementation plans are established for each project district to construct buildings and provide public facilities such as roads and parks.

<Figure 8> Project Implementation Methods for Urban Redevelopment Projects


Project Operators

The landowner(s), or a joint enforcement by the mayor or governor and the Korea Land & Housing Corporation with majority consent of the association members implement the Urban redevelopment projects. Unlike housing redevelopment and reconstruction projects promoted at an association level, landowners implement most urban redevelopment projects.


Target Areas


Unlike housing redevelopment and reconstruction projects, laws and regulations do not request specific criteria for urban redevelopment projects, such as the number of deteriorated buildings. The prioritized target areas for urban redevelopment projects are 1) land unsuited for buildings or where deterioration of the urban environment is highly likely because of underutilized land; 2) areas where buildings have deteriorated to a point where full functionality is no longer possible or areas with heavy concentrations of buildings; 3) areas where population and industries are concentrated and thus require the recovery of urban functions; 4) areas with easy access to public transportation (such as subway lines) and require construction of mixed-use buildings (Enforcement Decree of the Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents - Attached Table 1).

The target areas for urban redevelopment projects have been expanded to include Mapo, sub-center areas (Cheongnyangni, Yeongdeungpo, and Yongsan), and districts where balanced development projects are being promoted following determination of the “downtown” being the area within the four major gates in 1978. In particular, the Master Plan for urban redevelopment projects established in 2010 provides measures for spatial structure multinuclearation and is expanded to the city’s core center for strengthening the key functions. As such, urban redevelopment projects have been undergoing gradual expansion for spatial structure multinuclearation and redevelopment of downtown and sub-centers with high concentration but weak infrastructure due to integrated businesses and commercial facilities.

<Figure 9> Target Areas (estimated districts) for Seoul Urban Redevelopment Projects)

Source: Seoul, 2010, Proposed Master Plan for Seoul City & Maintenance of Living Environment - The Urban Redevelopment Sector

FAR Incentives

The FAR (Floor Area Ratio) incentive is available (within a 200% range) for those making a contribution to historical preservation or environmentally-friendly development, urban housing and downtown revitalization (culture and welfare facilities, public facilities, facilities promoting urban industry, etc.) to increase public interest and promote the completion of unfinished redevelopment projects in the downtown area. The City Planning Commission calculates the exact FAR incentive, with the addition of itemized amount incentive to standard FAR, upon review.

The FAR incentive has contributed to revitalizing urban development projects. There is, however, concern that incentives are excessive when compared to general construction; hence, the 2010 Master Plan has revised awarding FAR incentives according to land annexation and public facilities.


Public Support Funds (Urban/Residential Redevelopment Funds)

Urban redevelopment projects can receive financial assistance through urban/residential redevelopment funds, which is public financing for project revitalization, maintenance and conservation of urban characteristics, and promoting public interest.

The current urban redevelopment project provides financing for construction expenses by utilizing these funds. As of 2009, an average of approximately 27 billion won (about 8.7 billion won for each project district) had been provided for financing.


Project Status

In 1973, Seoul designated the first 11 districts for urban redevelopment and since has designated downtown and sub-center areas, such as Mapo, Yeongdeungpo, Cheongnyangni, and Yongsan. In line with its 1970 commitment to urban renovation, approximately 1,000,000 m² (approximately 330,000 pyeong) of the downtown area has been designated as urban redevelopment areas. Approximately 200,000 m² (about 60,000 pyeong) were added in the 1980s in preparation for the Seoul Olympic Games.

The projects for downtown and the Mapo area are making continued progress since their designation for redevelopment in the late 1970s; however, only 3 or 4 districts in Yeongdeungpo and Cheongnyangni are implementing such projects.

Of the total designated areas, about 44% (222 districts) have completed their urban redevelopment projects. Districts implementing the project account for about 7% (36 districts), suspended districts account for about 8% (41 districts), and districts with unfinished projects account for about 41% (209 districts).


<Table 2> Seoul Urban Redevelopment Projects




In Progress









Outside downtown area 

























Other areas












Source: Current Status of Urban Redevelopment Projects, Seoul, City Renewal Division (Dec. 31, 2013)

<Figure 10> Downtown Seoul Redevelopment Projects

Source: Seoul, 2010, Proposed Master Plan for Urban & Residential Redevelopment of Seoul 2020 - Urban Redevelopment Sector


Main Policy & Details

Physical Characteristics of Urban Redevelopment Projects


Size of Redevelopment Areas & Project Districts

The average urban redevelopment district in Seoul is about 50,800 m² with most between 40,000 and 100,000 m². Recently, however, projects have tended to be smaller at about 10,000 m². Urban redevelopment districts are usually divided into 10-20 project districts, and in some cases are divided into 50 or more. The average size of districts where projects have been completed is approximately 5,000 m², with the average land area, excluding land for public use such as roads, parks, and parking lots, being about 4,000 m².


Purpose of Buildings

In terms of the purpose for buildings constructed through urban redevelopment projects, business facilities account for 72%, apartment houses account for 14%, sale neighborhood account for 11%, and accommodations account for 3%. These percentages suggest that the areas tend to be focused on business.


Building Sizes, Number of Floors, & Density

The average floor area (ground floor) of a building constructed through urban redevelopment projects is about 1,800 m² (about 550 pyeong).

The average number of floors of a building in a completed project districts is 17 floors. In the 1980s, the floor height was under ten stories on average, but by the early 1990s, the floor height was 15 stories on average, and 20 stories or higher by the end of the 1990s.

The average building-to-land ratio of districts where urban development had been completed was approximately 45% with the average FAR roughly 660%. From the late 1980s, the floor area ratio was less than 50%, but exceeded 900% by the late 1990s, an overcrowded situation; however, the ratio had decreased slightly to 800% by 2004.

<Figure 11> Average FAR of Completed Districts

Source: Seoul City, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas 2020 - Urban Redevelopment Sector


Lead Time

The average period for redevelopment of a project district was 15.4 years. In the early 1990s, this had lengthened to 22 years on average, and 25 years on average by the early 2000s.


Customized Small Unit Redevelopment Projects


Introduction: Background & Definition

In the 1970s, redevelopment of urban redevelopment projects was oriented towards demolition. These methods were responsible for the loss of downtown characteristics and the sense of place, resulting in urban environmental degradation from high-density and development of high-rise buildings. Accordingly, the need for redevelopment of small units that preserved old city structures surfaced.

Unlike demolishing an area and creating a new foundation for a community such as businesses and commercial facilities, small-unit redevelopment, which focuses on area-specific renewal of smaller areas, gradually improves a degraded urban environment and deteriorated buildings while maintaining and preserving regional characteristics and the existing sense of place. Here, "small unit" refers to development on a smaller scale with a combination of several lots. “Area-specific” refers to redevelopment in line with the unique physical environments and functional characteristics of an area.

<Table 4> Comparison of Demolition-type Redevelopment & Area-Specific Small Unit Redevelopment


Demolition-type Redevelopment

Area-Specific Small Unit Redevelopment

Redevelopment Method

Ignores existing conditions and functions
Innovative modification of urban structure after demolition

Respects existing road network and lot patterns
Widens/connects roads, encourages renewal through construction/parking lot deregulation, and encourages joint development

Pace of Change

Pursues rapid change to existing functions / severance of organizations

Pursues gradual change of physical environment
Maintains existing functions / organization continuity

Development Density

Allows high-density development to ensure large-scale private projects are economical

Maintains development density to fit regional characteristics and road conditions

Development Size

Large-scale group development of an average project district size of approximately 5,000 m² (about 1,500 pyeong)

Pursues small-unit development, such as retention, community-initiated renewal, joint development according to lot/building conditions

Project Entity

Public: Zoning, project planning
Project Implementation: Driven by large private enterprise

Focuses on resident participation in and government support for projects

Source: Seoul, 2010, Master Plan for Urban Redevelopment Projects in Seoul - Urban Environment Service Sector, p.138


Redevelopment Method

Area-specific small unit redevelopment respects existing urban conditions such as the existing road network, lot patterns, usage, and functions, and is based on government support. The method selectively redevelops infrastructure such as roads and public parking lots, and gradually redevelops through guidance provision, such as self-renewal and joint development of small units through construction and parking lot deregulation.


Development Scale & Density

Area-specific small unit redevelopment aims to maintain industrial diversity and regional characteristics, and renewal of small units in order to better adapt to social and economic changes. This kind of redevelopment encourages individual renewal of buildings while maintaining good land conditions with significantly good frontage; the method also provides guidance to jointly develop small units according to an agreement between the project entity and owners of adjacent land that lack economic feasibility or where individual redevelopment is not possible. The method avoids demolition and redevelopment into high-density high-rise areas, instead maintaining appropriate FAR and building height, and renewing deteriorated areas through cooperation between the public entity and private owners/residents to boost project value.

<Figure 12> Conceptual Diagram of Area-specific Small Unit Redevelopment Projects

Source: Seoul, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Development Guidelines by District, p.139

Project Entity

Construction of local infrastructure in area-specific small-unit redevelopment projects requires active participation and cooperation between the public and local residents. While the public pays for installation of public facilities such as roads and parking lots - which cannot be constructed by individual landowners - and proposes minimum construction standards to provide development guidance, local residents redevelop individual areas or participate in joint redevelopment according to proposed construction standards.


One Area-Specific Small Unit Redevelopment Project: Gongpyung Area

The Gongpyung area was designated as an urban redevelopment site in September 1978. Of the 18 total project districts where redevelopment plans were finalized and announced, development was completed in six districts; two districts are in retention (Seungdong Church, YMCA), while projects in 10 districts remain unfinished.   

Old city structures still remain in downtown Gongpyung, such as Pimatgol Alley and Seungdong Church, a cultural property designated by Seoul City, which also adjoins Insa-dong; hence, a need has been recognized to maintain and preserve the regional characteristics. In addition, except for some buildings where redevelopment projects have been completed, most of the buildings are low rise with one to five stories. The Gongpyung area differs from the traditional atmospheres of the downtown area as well as urban redevelopment demand, and therefore requires area-specific small unit redevelopment to protect these local characteristics.

<Figure 13> Before Modification of Development Guidelines for Gongpyung Area

Source: Seoul, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Development Guidelines by District, p.93

 <Figure 14> After Modification of Guidelines for Gongpyung Area


Development Guidelines for Each District


Purpose & Characteristics of Development Guidelines

The development guidelines for each district suggest construction standards (such as the use of buildings, arrangements, styles, exterior space, and traffic movement) to be observed during implementation of redevelopment projects in urban redevelopment districts. Urban environments created through urban redevelopment projects are not viewed positively, as they are felt to damage the charming characteristics of various areas, so instructions and guidelines fit for each area are provided.

Development guidelines provide clear, detailed standards suited to each project district to emphasize their individual traits, and are used by the entity in charge and review committees as the standard when deciding whether to approve redevelopment project proposals.


Development Guidelines: Details & Application

Development guidelines are classified into general guidelines and individual guidelines for each district. As can be imagined, general guidelines apply to all project areas and districts within the downtown area, while individual guidelines for each district takes into account the characteristics of those places, which are applied differently according to business areas. Development guidelines are additionally classified into mandatory and recommended guidelines depending on their characteristics.

<Figure 15> Development Guidelines

Source: Seoul, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Development Guidelines by District, p.5

Development Guidelines: Main Elements

Separate guidelines exist for buildings, outside spaces, and traffic movement. The guidelines regulate the use and arrangement of buildings, as well as open spaces, frontage, environmental sculpture installation sections, details related to landscape within the land in the outside spaces, and the flow of vehicles and pedestrians.

<Table 5> Development Guidelines: Elements

Development Guidelines




Main Use

Lower floors

Horizontal-enabled installation section




Building line

Building designated line

Building limit line

Wall designated line

Wall limited line


Public open space

Installation of public open space

Frontage space

Installation of frontage space

Environmental structure installation section

Installation of environmental structures

Landscape within the area

Rooftop landscaping

Traffic Movement


Prohibited areas



Source: Seoul, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Development Guidelines by District

Development Guidelines for Each District:_Chungjin District

<Figure 16> Chungjin District: Diagram for Development Guidelines

Source: Seoul, 2010, Master Plan for Urban Redevelopment Projects - Development Guidelines for Each District, p.81                            


Policy Implementation Outcomes



Contribution to Modernization of the Downtown Area

Seoul's urban redevelopment projects were part of a policy to redevelop aging buildings and other urban structures and create a new environment towards modernization of urban functions. Since the 1970s, 222 modern buildings have been constructed through these projects and about 9.71 million m² of land (as of the end of December 2013) has been provided. The projects contributed to transforming the appearance of Seoul’s downtown areas, supplying large modern buildings for businesses and other commercial use and resolving hygiene issues and preventing disasters from the existing small buildings.

 <Table 6> Project Performance for Urban Redevelopment in Seoul (as of the end of Dec. 2013)


Number of Redevelopment Zones
(Number of buildings)

Completed Buildings

Building Floor Area




6,967,798 m²

Outside Downtown Area




2,264,408 m²








120,190 m²




361,978 m²

Other areas







9,714,375 m²

Source: Status of Seoul Urban Redevelopment Projects, Dec. 2013


Urban Improvement Through Provision of Open Space & Expansion of Infrastructure

Urban redevelopment projects contributed to the expanding insufficient infrastructure such as roads, parks, greenbelts, and parking lots by removing small and irregular urban structures, or reorganizing them on larger areas of land. Of the total development areas, roads account for 183,000 m², parks and greenbelts account for 620,000 m², and parking lots account for 110,000 m² (as of the end of December 2013). This kind of outcome cannot be obtained through general construction; the projects improved deteriorating urban environments by contributing to meeting the demand for new urban spaces, open spaces and new infrastructure.




Damage to Unique Identity of Downtown Areas & a Sense of Place

Urban redevelopment projects implemented after full demolition reduced the number of small downtown industries, such as clothing manufacturing, print publishing, and advertising, and disfigured a significant number of areas with the remains of old urban structures. As a result, much of the historic characteristics and charm of the artistic effects were damaged, resulting in a loss of unique characteristics in these areas and the sense of place inside the four major gates.


Degeneration of Urban Environment Due to High-rise & High-density Development

Densely constructed high rises were built to maximize commercial value as urban redevelopment projects have been implemented by the private sector (landowners). Hence, traffic congestion in the downtown area has intensified, and brought about adverse effects, such as degeneration of public interest caused by undermined urban landscape, excessive incentives for business, and incongruity with surrounding structures.


Autonomous Renewal & Withering of Alteration

Of the areas designated for redevelopment in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a significant number of them remain undeveloped even after 30 years, as a result of the concurrent designation of large areas for redevelopment. These projects have been delayed, resulting in deterioration beyond the point of potential renewal, and inconveniencing residents due to the insufficient quality and/or quantity of roads, parks, and other public facilities.


Tasks for the Future


Strengthening Government Involvement & Support for Urban Redevelopment Projects

A variety of measures are required to promote significantly delayed redevelopment projects in districts designated in the 1970s. Unreasonable redevelopment plans should be modified or related methods provided to cover construction expenses besides project financing and urban redevelopment funds to build infrastructure facilities. Moreover, action is also necessary to prevent conflict between project entities and existing commercial tenants, as well as providing reasonable compensation and resettlement assistance for people forced to move out of the area.


Diversification in Redevelopment to Strengthen Identity of Regions within Seoul

With the increase of interest in restoration of Cheonggye Stream and recovery of Seoul Fortress, methods for historical and cultural preservation and area redevelopment should be diversified. Redevelopment methods are demonstrating various strategies, such as customized small-unit redevelopment and preservation redevelopment but still to no avail. In order to strengthen Seoul’s identity and boost economic vitality, alternative methods are needed, such as including small unit redevelopment methods and expanding additional government funding and involvement.


Strengthening of Publicity for Urban Quality Improvement

Urban redevelopment projects so far have been somewhat fruitful in redeveloping deteriorating urban areas, but have been lacking in creating urban environments that benefit the public. The active redevelopment projects of the 1980s and 1990s would be difficult to implement today, and policies should change to improve the quality of the urban environment design. Therefore, a greater role for and support by the government is needed as well as measures that ensure differential incentives depending on the public benefit.




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Seoul Development Institute, 2007, " Seoul Urban Planning & Design"
Seoul, 2001, "Downtown Seoul Redevelopment Master Plan"
Seoul, 2005, "Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Urban Environment Service Sector"
Seoul, 2010, "2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Environment Maintenance Sector"
Seoul, 2010, "2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas - Zone Development Guidelines "
Seoul, 2000, "Master Plan for Downtown Management"
Seoul, 2004, "Downtown Development Plan According to Restoration of Cheonggye Stream"
Seoul, 2000, "Historical Record of Downtown Renewal Projects (1973-1998)"
Kim Ho-chul, 2004, " Theory for Redevelopment of Urban Central & Residential Areas", Jisaem
Yang Jae-seop et al, 2012, "Management & Reconstruction of Downtown Seoul", 20 Years of History, pp. 315-320, The Seoul Institute
Yang Jae-seop/Kim Sang-il, 2010, " Promoting Urban Renewal Projects", SDI Policy Report No. 67
Lim Young-in, 2012, "Analysis of Influencing Factors on Resettlement of Commercial Tenants Involved in Urban Redevelopment" a doctoral dissertation at Hanyang University
MOL, Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents and its Enforcement DecreeSeoul urban planning portal, Urban Redevelopment Projects  http://urban.seoul.go.kr

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