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Rôle du développement des zones interdites et gestion des zones réouvertes

Date 2016-10-29 Category Planification urbaine Updater ssunha
Seoul Metropolitan Government
Last Update

Prohibited Development Areas: Introduction & Designated Areas

Background: demand for stronger regulations on the use of land

Seoul continued to serve as the capital after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule and became the Republic of Korea. It is not only the capital but also the heart of the nation’s politics, economy, industry, society and transportation. Beginning in the 1960s, economic development in particular, led by the central government as it was, encouraged a concentration of population and industry in Seoul. This dense concentration made city management difficult, which posed a special problem as it was so close to the truce line with North Korea. In response, the South Korean government introduced the concept of development prohibited areas to contain spatial expansion, preserve the natural environment of the surroundings, and pursue its security policies.

Development of Relevant Policies

The concept of the development prohibited area was developed in 4 stages: i) a period of policy development (1971 – 1979) when policies related to development prohibited areas were first introduced and implemented; ii) a period of maintenance and conflict (1980 – 1997) when rigid management resulted in a variety of complaints; iii) a period of policy change (1998 – 2002) in response to the complaints and demands regarding the city’s built-up area; and iv) a period of policy adjustments and management (2003 – present) when the development bans were partially lifted and adjusted. Further details can be seen in the next sections.


Policy Development (1971 – 1979)
During this stage, revision of the Urban Planning Act in 1971 led to the designation of development prohibited areas, followed by stringent implementation. The ring type was specifically requested of the development prohibited areas so as to contain the concentration of population and industry in the outskirts, excluding the already built-up areas. The areas began to be strictly controlled through regulations on using and profiting from the area, pursuant to the Urban Planning Act.

Policy Maintenance & Conflict (1980 – 1997)

During the period of policy maintenance and conflict, the purpose of the development prohibited areas was maintained but operation and management were rather rigid, increasing controversy over the designation itself. When a shortage of development lots was felt in existing urban areas, the number of group complaints rose drastically. As part of the New Town (Saemaeul) Campaign, the government then launched a program to systematically improve the residential structure by bringing together the detached housing spread out in development prohibited areas and eased various bans to increase the convenience of local residents.


Policy Changes (1998 – 2002)
When Kim Dae-jung ran for president in 1997, he promised to lift some bans on areas where protection was deemed unnecessary, beginning discussions on the need to change the development prohibited area policy. In 1999, the Ministry of Construction & Transportation announced the partial removal of the development ban on 7 large city areas under significant pressure for expansion but still required good environmental management, and the full removal of the development ban on 7 small/medium city areas with lower pressure for development. The former, which included Seoul, was to include a wider-area urban plan.  Additionally, evaluation of spatial structures and city environment for partial adjustment was included. As the legal foundation for this improvement, the Act on Special Measures on the Designation & Management of Development Prohibited Areas was enacted in 2000, stipulating the designation of development prohibited areas.

Policy Adjustment & Management (2003 – Current)
In 2003, the development ban was lifted for the construction of public housing for lease, such as the national public housing complexes and Bogeumjari housing areas. By 2007, the 2020 Wider-area City Plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Area was approved, with suggestions for the adjustment and management of development prohibited areas. The development prohibited areas were then reviewed to find the total number of restrictions that could be removed, with areas prioritized where easing should take place. Ways to improve the areas that would remain under the development ban were also discussed. Upon closer review, it was seen that the prohibition on lower-value areas with the infrastructure would stay to maintain the total volume but would be removed later to meet demand, although with some restrictions, so as to vitalize the local economy and use the available land for industrial and residential lots. On the other hand, the areas where the ban remained in place would see a stronger management system (e.g., fines for damage, bans on additional public facilities within the area) to prevent undesired outcomes such as increasing the cost of land or environmental degradation.

Development Prohibited Areas

Having reviewed the green belts in British and Japanese city outskirts and other areas where urbanization had been adjusted, Korea designed a development ban policy to meet its own needs. In 1971, the Urban Planning Act was revised to include the legal grounds for designation of development prohibited areas; starting with Seoul in July 1971 until April 1977, 14 city areas – large cities, the seat of provincial government offices, industrial cities, or cities requiring environmental conservation – were designated for development bans on 8 different occasions. The total land area affected was 5,397.1 km², or approximately 5.4% of the nation’s territory. Of this total, 1,566.8 km² was in the Seoul metropolitan area, and 166.8 km² in Seoul itself.

Development prohibited areas were first designated in 1971; by 1976, a total of 1,566.8 km² was designated. As for Seoul, the first designated area was 129.4 km² (also in 1971), increasing to 166.8 km² by 1973. In August 1972, 23.4 km² were added to the Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu, and Yangcheon-gu areas. In July 1973, some 14.0 km² of today’s Jingwannaeoe-dong, Eunpyeong-gu (part of Goyang City in Gyeonggi Province at the time) was absorbed into Seoul’s administrative region. 

<Figure 1> Development Prohibited Areas in Seoul & Metropolitan Area


Effects of Development Prohibited Designations

As one of the strongest controls on land use in Korea’s urban planning policies, development bans play a crucial role in preventing urban sprawl in the capital area getting out of hand, preserving the natural environment around large cities, and providing green spaces for urban dwellers. The effect of the development ban policy in the Seoul area has been to offer visually pleasing views of green spaces and of the major mountains (e.g., Bukhansan, Gwanaksan), a virtual breathing space for those living in the city, with other areas used for farming, livestock, forestry, and other similar means for gaining livelihood. Development prohibited areas take the form of a belt of certain width. In recent years, these areas have been fitted with hiking trails and bicycle paths for visitors to enjoy. Some of the state-owned land within the areas is currently used for “weekend farming” and other projects.

Undesired Results & Countermeasures

As mentioned, the designation of development prohibited areas helps keep urban sprawl from becoming disorderly and preserves greenery and open spaces for future generations to use in the city. While this system has had positive effects on the management of growth in the capital area, it cannot be denied that there have been adverse effects as well, such as the overly stringent development restrictions in some areas included in the scope, and complains from local residents.  As times have changed, there has been an increasing demand for educational, cultural, welfare, and other public services to improve the quality of life, which in turned required the development of new cities. The rigidity of the development prohibited area regulations failed to reflect this trend and led to complaints such as the following: 


First, the unreasonableness of banning development in areas where an urbanized residential area already exists or where the restricted area boundary passes through a town; second, having the ban apply to residential areas or low-productivity farmlands located within the designated area, while the ban does not apply to some urban green spaces, fields, forests, and farmlands that have been appropriated for urban use despite their relatively high preservation value; third, where stringent regulations imposed by the ban inconvenienced local residents in their daily lives and interfered with the exercise of property rights and where the land was considerably cheaper than other comparable regions; and fourth, where there was a growing demand for public investment as new city development meets the boundaries of development prohibited areas, making it more expensive to travel to other cities.

To answer these complaints, the government revised the Enforcement Ordinance of the Urban Planning Act some 40 times between August 1977 and December 1996 and attempted to relax the bans within the development prohibited areas, but these revisions were not sufficient to meet the needs of the residents. Finally, in 1997, debate on removal or adjustment of the bans arose during the presidential elections. In the following year, an initiative was taken which included lifting the development bans from some designated areas. In 2000, the Act on Special Measures on the Designation & Management of Development Prohibited Areas came into effect, providing a separate system for the management of prohibited areas, which had formerly been under the Urban Planning Act. The initiation of the Act on Special Measures on the Designation & Management of Development Prohibited Areas in 2010 enabled the addition or removal of designated areas, with already-designated areas chosen as sites to develop for building public housing or the Bogeumjari housing districts.

Direction of Adjustment & Lifting the Bans

Basic Directions for Adjustment of Development Prohibited Areas
While the government was aware of the concerns over Seoul’s expansion and the need for better environmental management, it was resolved to reduce the ongoing complaints in the best way possible. It instituted the wider-area urban plan for the Seoul metropolitan area to allow for the partial removal or adjustment of the bans, seeking to improve the relevant systems and policies in the following way: first, low-value areas where bans are not required were to be opened to city use but were to be managed in an environmentally-friendly way to prevent degradation; second, the underlying principle was to be that any profits gained from the increase in real estate value after a ban was lifted should be redeemed, with appropriate measures in place and meticulously carried out to prevent speculation.
Instructions for adjustments on the development prohibited areas were to be in accordance with these principles and based on environmental evaluations proposed for the 2020 Wider-area City Plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Area, which provided spatial and land use plans for the new cities. In cases where demands rose for public housing in urban areas, flexible measures could be adopted to respond. For instance, some areas within development prohibited areas could be designated for adjustment and bans lifted to the extent that it does not undermine the purpose for designation in the first place. Apart from this, some areas in development prohibited areas could be given priority for relaxation of the bans, such as group settlements that exceed a certain size, settlements through which a development prohibited area boundary passes, industrial complexes, and pending industrial development areas.

<Table 1> Eligibility for Removal of or Adjustment to Development Ban


Adjustable Area

Priority Areas

Eligible Target

Subject of national projects (e.g., national public housing)
○ National public housing complexes
○ Bogeumjari housing complexes
○ Wirye New City

Group settlements of a defined size
Settlements through which the boundary passes
Industrial complexes
Pending industrial development areas




The size of the area eligible for the removal of bans is 30% or more of the existing total restricted area, apart from the total set forth in the 2020 Wider-area City Plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Area, and is ultimately determined by factoring in the scope of the area additionally required to pursue national project tasks. Any area that must be used to improve the priority group settlements would not be subject to the aforementioned total, in accordance with the guidelines.

<Table 2> Total Adjustable Volume & Total Allowed Adjustment of the Development Prohibited Areas in the Capital Area


Designated Development Prohibited Area (km²)

Environmental Evaluation
Score 4/5 Ratio (%)

Total Allowed Adjustment

Adjustable Area: Score 4/5 Ratio (%)

Ratio against the Restricted Area (%)

Area (km²)

Seoul Metropolitan Area






Seoul City






Incheon City






Gyeonggi Province






Source: 2020 Wider-area City Plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Area (2009)





Removal of Development Bans

According to the guidelines of the modified Urban Plan with regard to extensive settlements within development prohibited areas, the bans were lifted from the priority group settlements and/or adjusted for the eligible targets (e.g., national public housing, Bogeumjari housing, Wirye New City). As of June 2014, bans were lifted from a total of 51 areas (17.2 km²), including 28 medium to large group settlements (6.4 km²), and 19 areas (totaling 10.1 km²) for the use of the national public housing complexes, the Bogeumjari housing complexes, and Wirye New City. The areas that remain under the ban totaled 149.6 km², or 89.7% of the total area initially designated.

 <Table 3> Removal of Bans in Seoul (June 2014)


No. of Areas

Opened Area (km²)

(51 areas covering 17.2 km²)

Group Settlements



National Projects






Source: Internal Document of the City of Seoul (June 2014)



<Table 4> Development Prohibited & Reopened Areas in Seoul (June 2014)


Area (km²)

Percentage (%)

Initially Prohibited









Source: Internal Document of the City of Seoul (June 2014)



<Figure 2> Development Prohibited Areas around Seoul (2014) 

Group Settlements as a Priority: Removal of Bans by Type & Directions for Management

The criteria by which an area is selected for removal of development bans in Seoul are those group settlements with: i) 100 or more housing units; and ii) a density of 20 units or more per hectare. Here, “density” refers to the net household density, factoring in the characteristics of the group settlements in Seoul’s development prohibited areas. The types of priority areas include improved settlements, existing urbanized settlements where the New Town Program has been implemented, settlements with a concentration of dilapidated houses built by those evicted from demolished houses, and natural settlements.
Improved Settlements
This category applies to settlements improved by the settlement improvement programs launched in 1976 – 1978 and in 1985 – 1986 and also to Maehwa Villa in Hang-dong, Guro-gu, renovated pursuant to the Residential Environment Improvement Program in 1993 – 1996. The restriction was lifted from 15 areas totaling an area of 1.0 km².
The settlements improved by the settlement improvement programs include Bangjuk Village in Yurhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, and New Village in Dobong-dong, Dobong-gu. There were two special Presidential orders in the late 1970s and the mid-1980s for housing renovation and systematic improvement in development prohibited areas and farming settlements in the natural green belt on the outskirts of Seoul. With this program, 46 settlements of 3,442 houses (34 settlements of 2,555 houses by the first order and 12 settlements of 887 houses by the second) were renovated.

<Figure 3> Large Group Settlements & Boundaries of Reopened Areas


Settlements improved by the Residential Environment Improvement Program include the 6 Maehwa Villa buildings in Hang-dong, Guro-gu. The Villa was built as part of the Residential Environment Improvement Program between 1993 and 1996, located on the city boundary shared by Bucheon. The boundary of the area where the ban was lifted was determined by the scope of the Residential Environment Improvement Program.
Existing Urbanized Settlements Where the New Town Program Has Been Implemented
Located in Jingwannae-dong, Gupabal-dong, and Jingwanoe-dong in Eunpyeong-gu, these settlements were developed as part of the Eunpyeong New Town Program for the pilot New Town Program. Bans were relaxed in 3 areas totaling approximately 3.5 km². The underlying principle of the New Town Program is to build residence-oriented communities where people from different walks of life and different ages can come together to create a residential space that balances welfare and development.

<Figure 4> View of Jingwanoe-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, & Boundary of Eunpyeong New Town

Settlements with a Concentration of Dilapidated Houses Built by Residents of Demolished Buildings
The settlements where old, dilapidated houses were concentrated were first created by mostly low-income earners who had been evicted from unauthorized houses in the wake of the city center redevelopment programs in the 1960s and 1970s. The houses and lots were confined, severely deteriorating, and in need of assistance from national programs such as the Residential Environment Improvement Program. These settlements spanned across 7 areas, approximately 1.6 km² in size. Of these, Gangil-dong and Nowon Village were supported by the national public housing program, and apartment complexes were built in the areas.
In Village #104 in Junggyebon-dong, Nowon-gu, the residential lifestyle remained as it was in the 1970s. Preserving such residential history is important to prevent it fading from people’s memories. In the meantime, the City of Seoul obtained expert input, communicated with local residents, and launched a plan to protect and improve parts of that village. This is one of the best examples of successfully switching from demolition-oriented development to village transformation.

<Figure 5> Street & Bird’s Eye View of Village #104 

<Figure 6> View of Dilapidated Housing & the Renovation Plans

Natural Settlements
Natural settlements can be divided into low-density settlements on a hillside near the city, such as in Buam-dong, Jongno-gu, and farming settlements formed on the outskirts of a city. Bans were relaxed in 3 areas covering 0.2 km² of land. Buam-dong sits on a hillside and is comprised of low-density, low-rise detached houses, providing abundant open space. In the future, the area is likely to enjoy a good natural environment and has the potential to become a high-end residential area. On the other hand, farming settlements naturally formed in Sangam-dong (Mapo-gu) and Angol (Dobong-dong, Dobong-gu) are dilapidated and without adequate infrastructure. These settlements are in need of overall residential environment improvement.

<Figure 7> View of Natural Settlements & Improvement Plans 


National Program Types & Direction after Lifting of Development Bans

National Public Housing Complexes
Financed by the National Public Housing Fund, national public housing were built or bought to provide leases for 30 or more years. At first, housing was provided to evicted residents, migrants and those at the bottom of the income ladder, but the scope gradually widened to include people whose average income is a maximum of 70% of the national average. As of June 2014, 9 areas (3.5 km²) in Seoul saw their development bans eased to make way for national public housing.
Bogeumjari Housing Complexes
Bogeumjari housing is a new concept that embraces public-built small and medium houses for bidding as well as public housing for lease; the public sector finances or sources the funds to build or buy houses for bidding or lease. Bogeumjari housing is supplied to suburbs where development bans have been eased or through development of specific housing sites such as in Wirye New City. As of June 2014, 9 areas (5.0 km²) in Seoul saw their development bans eased.
Wirye New City
Located in the southeastern part of Seoul, Wirye New City is a new town spanning over 3 local governments – Songpa-gu (Seoul), Hanam City, and Seongnam City (Gyeonggi Province). The size of Wirye New City is approximately 6.8 km² and development is scheduled to be completed in December 2015. Wirye New City was designed to mitigate housing market instability due to housing shortages in the Gangnam area. It is expected to provide housing for some 43,000 households, 22,000 of which will be provided as part of the Bogeumjari housing scheme. As of June 2014, the development ban was lifted for 1 area (1.6 km²) in Seoul for Wirye New City.

<Figure 8> Location of Wirye New City

<Figure 9> Bird's Eye View of Wirye New City



Designation of development prohibited areas has positively contributed to preventing uncontrolled urban sprawl, preserving the natural environment of Seoul and its vicinity, and providing a pleasant environment to the city’s residents. Nevertheless, issues with area boundaries and rigid management have resulted in continued public complaints, and residents in the development prohibited areas have increasingly demanded that the development bans be lifted. However, the necessity for such designation is widely agreed and accepted. Many different opinions have been voiced arguing for preservation, removal, or adjustment of the system. The following is a summary of these perspectives.

Proponents of the system argue that development bans should be maintained as they are critical tools for limiting urban development and protecting the living environment. Those who oppose the system point out that the designation process is not democratic and that bans can be so excessive that they make the lives of the local residents very inconvenient. They claim that easing the regulations is not sufficient to fundamentally resolve the issues. Voices who support adjustment of the areas accept their importance but desire unintended consequences to be adequately resolved.

Theogvernment supports adjustment to ensure effectiveness of growth management. If required to meet demands of the city, the government will take appropriate action to partially remove the ban from some areas or ensure meticulous management of areas with high preservation value. Priority has been given to relieving certain areas from development bans, such as the location of group settlements, and endeavored to respond to the public complaints. Some development prohibited areas have seen limited relaxation of their bans to allow for construction of national public housing complexes, thereby satisfying national demand for leasing of such units and resolution of other relevant complaints.
The following approaches are necessary to facilitate adjustment of the development bans and sustainable management:
First, the approach taken should be in accordance with the city’s plans for growth management. In other words, the areas that remain under the development ban will need to be carefully managed to ensure that their environments remain protected and that any damage should be undone to allow restoration of an area to its original state. Second, any land that is no longer farmland or cannot be used for farming due to nearby development projects should be used for profit-making purposes by the local residents such as development of eco-villages, flower or weekend farming. Permitting such financially-beneficial activities, although limited, should be considered alongside preservation of the area. Third, areas where development bans are eased will need detailed instructions to ensure sustainable management in the future.
In accordance with these items, the role of the public sector will need to be strengthened. Priority areas should be managed in an eco-friendly manner, and be in balance with the surrounding natural environment, and any settlements with roads or parks that need improvement should be allowed to make such improvements. Those areas where settlement improvements have not yet taken place after adjusting the scope of the ban will need the public sector to make advanced investments for public facilities. As for management of national public housing complexes and Bogeumjari housing, it should be noted that many of the districts for such national programs are located on and near the Seoul city boundaries, and it is necessary to come up with plans to prevent conurbation (such as through creation of greenbelts of a certain width in the development of such districts). Lastly, small settlements scattered in development prohibited areas can be removed and reconstructed to restore the damaged environment. Any settlements that need improvement will also need assistance from the public sector to improve, for example, roads or parks. The public sector will also need to consider the scale of the local economy and provide public services that can be jointly accessed by 3 – 5 settlements.




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Gwon Yong-wu, Park Yang-ho, Yu Geun-bae, et al., 2014, “Our Dear Homeland”, Social Critics Co., Ltd.
Kim Seon-wung, Goh Junho, Song Inju, 2011, “Urban Management Evaluation and Improvement of Development Prohibited Areas in Seoul”, The Seoul Development Institute.
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 in Seoulgement provement of  Injua, 2014, The Seoul Institute Issue Report: “Issues & Challenges with Deregulation in Development Prohibited Areas”, The Seoul Institute.
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Seoul Metropolitan Government, 2010, “Study on Efficient Management of Overlapping/Complex Urban Facilities”, Seoul Metropolitan Government.
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Relevant Laws

Act on Planning & Use of National Territory
Urban Planning Ordinance of Seoul, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Act on Maintenance & Improvement of Urban Areas and Dwelling Conditions for Residents

Websites (e-National Index)
LH Lot Sale/Lease Application System, Korea Land & Housing Corporation
Public Housing website, Korea Land & Housing Corporation
Website of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport
Seoul Urban Planning Portal Site, Urban Planning Bureau, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Seoul Statistics Information, Seoul Metropolitan Government