2030 Seoul Plan

Date 2015-07-31 Category Urban planning Updater scaadmin
Kim In-hee
The Seoul Institute
Last Update

The Urban Master Plan: Status & Features

What is the Urban Master Plan?

A Plan That Provides Long-term Direction for Urban Development for the Next 20 Years

The Urban Master Plan was legislated in 1981 pursuant to the Urban Planning Act to guarantee the sustainability of national territorial management for the purpose of using, developing, and preserving the land. It proposes policy direction for environmentally-sound and sustainable development, as well as the efficient and reasonable utilization of limited resources, thereby improving quality of life. By its nature, it is a comprehensive plan that presents a long-term framework for the city to adhere to in order to achieve its development goals 20 years down the road.

A Highest-Level Statutory Plan for Urban Development

The Urban Master Plan provides direction for lower-level plans that relate to the use, development, and preservation of land. As the highest-level plan, it provides guidelines for lower-level urban management plans and similar plans established by other relevant laws, for consistency and uniformity

A Comprehensive, Multi-faceted Plan

The Urban Master Plan is comprehensive and touches upon various aspects of the city, socially and economically, such as environment & energy, transportation & infrastructure, and culture & welfare. In the planning stage, it requires procedural justification wherein the input from citizens, experts, and administrators is collected and incorporated.

<Figure 1> Structure of Seoul's Urban Planning


Legal Grounds for the Urban Master Plan

Established Based on the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory

The Urban Master Plan is based on the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory, providing the basic spatial structure and long-term direction for development of the special free cities, metropolitan cities, special autonomous cities, special autonomous provinces, gun (counties) or other administrative zones. The Plan serves as a guideline for city and gun (county) management plans.

Established & Approved by the Mayor of Seoul Special Free City

The individuals with the authority to establish an urban master plan are “the mayors of special free cities, the mayors of metropolitan cities, the mayors of special autonomous cities, the governors of special autonomous provinces, and the governors of gun (counties)”. In Seoul, the mayor has the authority to establish an Urban Master Plan.

In February 2009, the authority to approve an urban master plan was moved from the central to the local governments due to the revision of the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory, which is how the mayor of Seoul was endowed with the authority to approve an urban master plan.

Reviewed & Improved Every 5 Years

By regulation, the mayor of Seoul is to review the feasibility of the urban master plan and make improvements every 5 years.

Developments of the Urban Master Plan

Established 4 Times since Legislation

Seoul’s first Urban Master Plan was established in 1990 (target year: 2000). Statutory plans were established 4 times, with overhauls in 1997, 2006, and 2014.


<Table 1> Development of Seoul’s Urban Master Plan since 2000


The Seoul Master Plan
for the 2000s

The Seoul Master Plan
of 2011

The Seoul Master Plan
of 2020

Target Year









The capital city for the unified Koreas
The central city of the Pacific Region
A ‘people’ city

A great, people-oriented city to live in

An international city of nature and people; of history and technology

of the

Globalization, expansion, access to information, quality of life

Citizen- and people-oriented

Healing and recovery

Background and Plan Description

• Balanced development of Gangnam and Gangbuk
• Transition into a multi-nucleic city
• Plans for a city metro network (13 routes) and a city highway network
• 1 center - 5 sub-centers - 59 districts
※The first statutory plan

• Revision of the plan from 2000
• Emergence of the local government system
• Incorporation of local government plans
• Development plans for Sangam, Yongsan, Ttukseom, and Magok Districts
• 1 center - 4 sub-centers - 11 districts
- 54 districts

• Revision of the plan from 2011
• Incorporation of the changes after the Asian financial crisis of 1997
• Incorporation of changes such as relocation of the administrative capital and restoration of Cheonggye Stream
• Change with the GB cancellation
• 1 center -5 sub-centers -11 districts
- 53 districts


Characteristics & Execution of the 2030 Seoul Plan

2030 Seoul Plan - Another Name for the Citizen-involved Urban Master Plan

The Seoul Plan is another name for the Seoul Master Plan, indicating that Seoul’s Urban Master Plan, based on the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory, was revised, in collaboration with its citizens, to reflect the characteristics of the city.

Under the guideline standards of the Urban Master Plan, Seoul developed its own urban master plan under another name, the “Seoul Plan”, to align the elements and contents of the Plan with Seoul’s specific requirements. Citizens, experts, and other interested parties were involved in formulation of the 2030 Seoul Plan, the process of which was carried on in an open, transparent manner. Key issues were incorporated into the Plan to complement the strategic nature of the Urban Master Plan. The Urban Planning Bureau and the Management & Planning Office led the way in raising the status of the plan.


Background to the 2030 Seoul Plan


Proper Timing to Review & Improve the 2020 Seoul Master Plan

It is necessary, according to Article 23 (Improvement of the Urban Master Plan) of the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory, to review the feasibility of the urban master plan of the relevant region every 5 years. Therefore, it became necessary to review the 2020 Seoul Master Plan, which was finalized in 2006, and revise the plan in accordance with the change in conditions.

Institutional Changes: Transition of the Authority to Establish an Urban Master Plan to Local Governments

With revision of the Act on Planning and Use of National Territory in February 2009, the authority to establish an urban master plan was moved from the central government to local governments. This gave the mayor of Seoul the authority and responsibility to develop an urban master plan that reflected the characteristics and conditions of the city.

Demands for Citizen Participation & Sharing to Realize Current Values

The Urban Master Plan of Seoul needed to incorporate the values of the time and changes in the environment. To do this, Seoul needed to consider the following: i) more stringent democratic procedures that do not exclude the citizens, as opposed to the old habit of relying on administrators and experts; ii) more focus on future values, such as sharing innovation, co-existence, and convergence; and iii) urban restoration and urban planning that reflects the actual lifestyle of the city and considers demographic changes and regional characteristics.

Direction of the Seoul Plan

The Seoul Plan was revised substantially to overcome the limitations of the existing Urban Master Plan, such as the lack of public involvement and actionability, and to reflect the changes in values felt by society. To help overcome the limitations of existing urban master plans, the Seoul Plan placed a priority on ‘people’ and was implemented as follows:

First, the planning stage was designed so as to allow both citizens and experts to review and make changes to the plan in an open and transparent manner from start to finish.
Second, the plan was revised to reflect the defining characteristics of Seoul, with input from citizens, and prepared in a way that is easy to understand.
Third, the relationship between the Seoul Plan and the plans from the Seoul government offices was reviewed to prioritize the policies and raise the status of the umbrella plan.
Fourth, the foundation was built upon so as to ensure that the abstract concepts of the Urban Master Plan are implemented and applicable in fact, thereby helping to improve the quality of life.
Fifth, plans were developed for the living spheres and CBD, for all practical purposes, to explicate the follow-up measures, monitoring systems, governance between autonomous districts and the capital city, financing principles, etc.

<Figure 2> Direction for the 2030 Seoul Plan



Features of the Seoul Plan

Citizen Involvement from the Planning Stage

In order to have public consensus, the Seoul Plan involved the citizens from the very beginning of planning so as to come up with the appropriate vision and tasks to perform. The public worked with administrators and experts in developing the plans for key issues.


Issue- & Goal-oriented Strategic Plans

The existing urban master plans had 12 different sub-plans by section, which made it more challenging to ensure consistency between those plans. Moreover, their scope was so broad and their content so technical that it was difficult for the citizens to read and understand. To address these issues, the 2030 Seoul Plan identified the major issues that would affect Seoul and was shortened and made easier to understand.

<Figure 3> Composition of the 2030 Seoul Plan


Inter-departmental Collaboration at Seoul Metropolitan Government

Led by the Urban Planning Bureau, the existing urban master plans were mostly focused on spatial and physical elements. However, the 2030 Seoul Plan reinforced welfare, education, history, culture, environment, and other non-physical aspects. During the entire planning stage, the Management & Planning Office and the Urban Planning Bureau encouraged the departments and offices at Seoul Metropolitan Government to work closely together and raised the status of the umbrella Seoul Plan.

Enhanced Role & Function of Living Sphere Plans

The existing urban master plans paid attention to quantitative and external growth and competitiveness but did not place much emphasis on quality of life.

The 2030 Seoul Plan however, laid out the framework necessary to build a 100-year urban plan that encompasses everything from the city-wide plan to minor, detailed plans that affect the life of the citizenry. For balanced regional development, the plan also pursued spatial restructuring and promoted the roles and functions of the living sphere plans.


Full-time Monitoring & Evaluation Systems for Effectiveness

The 2030 Seoul Plan instituted the continued monitoring and evaluation of the Plan to measure progress. Indices are available for key issues and goals that indicate the level of achievement, and the outcome is shared with the citizens. The public is encouraged to participate and evaluate so their input is incorporated in follow-up plans.

<Figure 4> Full-time Monitoring System in the 2030 Seoul Plan


Composition of the Seoul Plan

Vision, Key Issues, & Spatial Plan (Spatial Structure & Living Sphere Plan)

The basis of the 2030 Seoul Plan is to develop the future vision of the city and to propose appropriate goals and strategies. The Plan therefore is composed of the vision, key issues, and spatial plans that touch on spatial structure and living sphere plans for 2030.

<Figure 5> Composition of the Seoul Plan


Implementation Structure of the Seoul Plan

Collaborative Network of Citizens, Experts, & Administrators

In accordance with the 2030 Seoul Plan, the “2030 Seoul Plan Development Committee” was founded to establish the plan within a collaborative network and framework of citizens, experts, administrators, and other interested parties. The committee was comprised of the Seoul Plan Citizens’ Group that shapes the vision, and of sub-committees that help develop the plans for key issues.


The Citizens’ Group has 100 citizens as participants and is responsible for identifying the vision and key tasks for the city.

As for the sub-committees, there are 5 of them, with 108 participants in total, according to the tasks set up by the Citizens’ Group. Each sub-committee is composed of 20 people (experts, Seoul city government officials, city council members, civic organization and civic group members, and researchers from the Seoul Institute. They work together to propose goals and strategies for key issues.

<Figure 6> Implementation Structure of the 2030 Plan

<Table 2> Role of Master Planners at Difference Stages
Vision & Key Issues
Plans by Key Issue
MP (Master Planner) Roles
General MP
⁃ Supervise identification and development of vision and key issues
⁃ Supervise sector subcommittees, prepare complete plan (draft)
⁃ Prepare and manage sector plan (draft)
Sector MP
⁃ Supervise and manage system to encourage participation by the citizenry
⁃ Support deliberation by citizens’ groups and prepare a report
⁃ Host sector subcommittee meetings
⁃ Develop basic direction and framework of the plans (draft)
⁃ Draft a report for key issue plans


Development & Description of the 2030 Seoul Plan

Development of the Seoul Plan

Preparation - Vision & Tasks – Drafts - Collection of Input and Administrative Procedures

For the 2030 Seoul Plan, an expert advisory group was formed to identify the basic direction and implementation structure of the Plan, and determine public participation. To develop the vision in line with the direction, the 100-member citizens’ group was created to come up with the vision and key tasks for Seoul in 2030.

To realize the vision and key tasks identified by the citizens’ group, the 2030 Seoul Plan Development Committee was created, comprising citizens’ groups, city council members, experts, and officials from the Seoul government. It drafted the 2030 Seoul Plan, which categorized the plans by key issue, spatial structure and land use plans, regional plans, and action plans.

This draft, made by the citizens, experts and administrators, was reviewed at public hearings and regional presentation sessions, and was finalized after fulfilling the statutory administrative procedures.


<Figure 7> Citizen-Involved Establishment of the Seoul Plan



Vision of Seoul 2030

Seoul 2030 as Envisioned by Citizens: “A Friendly City Based on Mutual Communication & Care”

The most notable difference of the Seoul Plan from existing urban master plans is that the vision and actionable plans are developed and proposed by the citizens. Citizens were recruited to form a group that would represent the 10 million residents of Seoul. Three workshops were held to discuss the strengths, weaknesses, and major issues of Seoul as a city, as well as to deliberate on a vision for the city. As a result, the following vision was developed: “A Friendly City Based on Mutual Communication & Care”.
<Table 3> Summary of the Citizens’ Group for the Seoul Plan


What is the Citizens’ Group for the Seoul Plan?

The citizens’ group is comprised of 100 citizens who have gathered to identify a vision for Seoul in 2030. Representing the 10 million people of Seoul, the group is the first of its kind in Seoul dedicated to ‘shaping the vision of Seoul by the hands of its citizens’, and is appointed by the mayor of Seoul.


The group aims to analyze the issues of Seoul and identify a vision and key tasks for the city. It develops the vision and goals based on public consensus, ensuring acceptance of the plan.


∙ Target: Adults (age 19 or above) residing in Seoul
∙ Method: Random telephone survey, commissioned to an expert survey institution
 - Random selection of 100 people to ensure statistical representation and reliability
 - Balanced consideration of gender, age, occupation, and region
 - Disabled persons and foreign nationals were selected based on recommendations from offices at the Seoul government, or other relevant organizations.

<Age & Occupation of the Participants>
Senior Citizen
Foreign National
60s or older

Plans by Key Issue

Strategic plans developed on specific issues; setting priorities for the city

The plans developed in accordance with key issues are strategic in their nature, bringing together the administrative functions of all offices and departments of the Seoul government to ensure consistency between planning and setting policy priorities. They are focused on specific issues, as proposed in the guidelines for urban master plans, and are customized to the unique circumstances of Seoul.

17 Indices, 17 Goals, and 60 Strategies

The plans set up by key issue incorporate the basic direction, indices, goals and strategies. To establish these plans, 5 sector subcommittees (Welfare/education/women, Industry/jobs, History/culture, Environment/energy/safety, Urban space/transportation/improvement) met 10 or so times over a ten-month period to identify the key issues and have come up with 17 indices, 17 goals, and 60 strategies to address the key issues.

<Table 4> Goals & Indices for the Plans by Key Issue.
Key Issue
Key Issue 1

People-oriented city of equal opportunity
Develop a welfare system prepared for a super-aged society
Guaranteed minimum income
Create an environment where citizens lead a healthy life
Number of local public health clinics
Build a social system that helps eradicate polarization and discrimination
Number of welfare facilities for senior citizens
Design an education system that offers lifelong learning opportunities
Number of lifelong education facilities
Promote gender equality and social care
Quality/quantity of childcare service provided by national/public childcare centers
Key Issue 2

Global city of cohabitation, with abundant jobs and vibrancy
Recognition as a global economic city built on creativity and innovation
Percentage of creative community to the whole
Promote shared growth between economic entities and regional mutual development
Social/economic job rates
Promote economic vibrancy with an emphasis on people and jobs
Employment rate
Key Issue 3

Exciting city of culture and history
Create a city of living history
Satisfaction rate with the cultural environment
Manage an urban landscape embraced by the population
Number of cultural facilities
Create a diverse urban culture enjoyed by all
Number of foreign tourists/residents
Key Issue 4

Safe, environmentally-friendly city
Build an eco-friendly city of parks
Percentage of regions with access to parks
Build an energy-efficient city
Percentage of renewable energy use
Create a safe city where everybody looks out for each other
Change in the number of crime/disaster victims
Key Issue 5

City of close community, residential stability and easy mobility
Promote urban restoration with an emphasis on the balance between home and work
Journey time between home and work
Create a green transportation environment where the dependence on cars is minimal
Green public transport share
Provide more residential spaces where people have stability coupled with a wide
range of choice
Percentage of public lease housing


Spatial Structure

A City Design Based on Vision, Communication & Care

The spatial structure of Seoul 2030 was designed based on the city’s vision. It was modified to adapt to the socioeconomic changes in Seoul and its metropolitan area as well as to implement the goals and strategies of the 5 key issues.
The city’s spatial structure was designed as follows: 1) aggressive management and maintenance of the natural, historical and cultural heritage of Seoul; 2) restructured CBD areas for enhanced urban competitiveness and balanced regional development; and 3) the axis of development to be in the metropolis for better communication and cohabitation.

Structural Change in Central Areas – from a Single-nucleus Structure to a Multi-nucleic Structure

The CBD is one of the fundamental components of a spatial structure. To address the issues related to spatial structure (the better quality of life requested by the residents, the increasing gap between regions, the expansion of Seoul, and the increasing competition among global cities), it was suggested that the existing single-nucleus structure be changed to a multi-nucleic one.
The existing structure was of a simple hierarchy, comprised of a single city center, 5 sub-centers, and 11 regional centers; the new multi-nucleic structure has 3 city centers, 7 wide-area centers, and 12 regional centers, modified to encourage shared development, promote special roles designated to the CBDs, and ensure the functional connection between the CBDs.

<Figure 8> Spatial Structure to Maximize communication & Care

<Table 5> Change in the CBD Structure



Living Sphere Plan


Direction for Development & Key Tasks for 5 Living Spheres

The Living Sphere Plan presents the details on the vision, key issues and their plans, spatial structure, and other contents of the Seoul Plan at the living sphere level and proposes guidelines and direction to lower-level plans such as the Urban Management Plan.

Some 10 million people live in Seoul, spanning an area of 605 ㎢. The city needs to specify which extensive and macroscopic urban master plan to apply to the living spheres, and needs guidelines for the development and policy goals of the relevant living spheres when developing the Urban Management Plan. For this reason, the city was divided into the 5 living spheres (city center, northeast, northwest, southwest, and southeast) based on their natural/physical features, administrative regions, and travel patterns, for each of which direc- tions and key tasks were set up.

Input from residents & civil servants from 25 gu offices

To establish the living sphere plans, general opinions on the key issues were studied by a hearing from the local mayor’s office, 2 workshops for local governments & residents, studying the space-related projects launched by departments and offices at the Seoul government, and/or reviewing the suggestions from local governments.
Based on the study of various opinions, 5 sectors (city center and jobs, residential, transportation, living, and regional characteristics) were established to identify the key tasks for each. Any issues that were not included in the regional plans were to be reviewed and specified in the subsequent living sphere plans.



Establishment & Operation of a Full-time Monitoring System

As the 2030 Seoul Plan became the top-level plan for the basic direction of Seoul, it was specifically indicated to review the implementation process continually and monitor the Urban Master Plan.
By monitoring implementation towards evaluation, reviewing the consistency of the Urban Master Plan and other sector plans, and analyzing the changes within the city, the Plan would be cyclic and thus more able to ensure the timeliness of the Seoul Master Plan.
<Figure 9>  Cycle of Annual Monitoring Reports


Citizen Participation & Governance

The underlying principle is to develop the Plan by involving various parties – citizens, experts, etc. – to allow for social consensus.  For its part, Seoul is to seek different ways to involve citizens in the planning, disclose relevant information, and develop the governance in which citizens are encouraged to reveal their talent in the making of plans.

Focus on Wider-Area Governance

To enable the spatial and functional connection between the city and the surrounding metropolitan areas, Seoul is determined to lead the way in promoting the balanced development of the capital and the country as a whole. In the long term, it seeks to develop urban plans that are dedicated to communicating with adjacent cities and towns for mutual benefit.



  • Seoul Development Institute, 2007 Urban Planning & Design of Seoul p.131, Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in 20th Century 2001, pp.587-588
  • Seoul Development Institute, 2007 Urban Planning & Design of Seoul p.131, Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in 20th Century 2001, pp.586-588 
  • Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in the 2001, pp.597, pp.600-601
  • Seoul City, 2010,「2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- The Urban Redevelopment Sec- tor」pp. 7-9
  • Seoul City's urban planning portal, Urban Redevelopment Projects http://urban.seoul.go.kr
  • Seoul City's urban planning portal, Urban Redevelopment Projects http://urban.seoul.go.kr
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment  Sector」pp. 39-40
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment Sector」p.10
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment Sector」p.138
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment Sector」p.138
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment Sector」p.139
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment  Sector」p.140
  • Seoul City, 2010「,  2020 Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas- Urban Redevelopment  Sector」p.140
  • Seoul City, 2010, Master Plan for Urban Redevelopment Projects in Seoul, Development Guidelines for Each District, pp.3-4, p.81
  • Seoul City, 2010, Redevelopment Master Plan for Urban Central & Residential Areas, Development Guidelines for Each Dis- trict, p.5
  • Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in the 20th Century 2001, pp.594-595, pp.601-606,
  • Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in the 20th Century 2001, pp.609-610, Kim Ho-chul, 2004, “Theory of Urban Central & Residential Areas”, Jisaem, p.155
  • Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in the 20th Century 2001, pp.609, Kim Ho-chul, 2004, “Theory of Urban Central & Residential Areas”, Jisaem, p.155
  • Seoul Development Institute, Spatial Transition of Seoul in the 20th Century 2001, pp.606-611, Kim Ho-chul, 2004, “Theory of Urban Central & Residential Areas”, Jisaem, p.155

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