Sewoon Sangga (1966-1976)/ 8. Realization of Sewoon Sangga

The constitution of massive and modernized urban development projects by the public sector was maximized in the late 1960s. The trends also spread to the private sectors and precipitated a construction boom in Korea at that period of time. However, things did not go very smoothly with the development of Sewoon Sangga at its beginning stage. The realization process of this mega-structure was a rough path at the start due to the lack of confidence from people in the public and private sector for such utopian project and the political and economical instability at that time. After designing the Sewoon Sangga, a multiple private developers had to be selected to establish a joint venture with the government. The joint venture developers were expected to pay the land cost and to finance the construction as a way of investment and they in turn would have the right to sell or lease the space of their own portion of the buildings. It was similar to the development project nowadays in Korea but only it was not an easy task at that time.

First Plan of the Sewoon Complex and surrounded area,  Pai, H. & Cho, M. 2014
First Plan of the Sewoon Complex and surrounded area, Pai, H. & Cho, M. 2014

Although the government positively supported the project, the investment was not guaranteed due to the unstable economic condition of Korea at that period. There were lack of private developer which were willing to participate in what appeared to many to be a highly risky and unpromising development except for the Asea Merchants Society which voluntarily expressed interest. At this point, only one division out of eight originally planned buildings was initiated first. The lack of support from private developed was an expected problem to the Mayor back then. He decided to invite two major beneficiaries of the government’s construction projects, Hyundai and Daerim construction companies, to assist the project. Political pressure was added on to realize the Sewoon Sangga project. However, the impression that the project was seen as unstable and not guaranteed changed drastically after the construction of Sewoon Sangga proceeded and the plan began to take concrete shape. The future development prospects were more convincible to many people gradually and they were attacted to seek for office and retail spaces in Sewoon Sangga. Many construction companies begun to apply for the joint venture investment.

Interlinked buildings, : Yoon, Seong-Joon 1994:15   Case1
Interlinked buildings, : Yoon, Seong-Joon 1994:15

At the end, four of the blocks in the original plan of mixed-use facilities were built and by the time they were completed, Sewoon Sangga is the largest scale construction project with private capital in Korea which was interlinked by pedestrian overbridges and elevated decks. After all, the realization of such mega-structure construction project was not simple for that time in Korea when people’s recognition of modern architecture were not fully mature. Even the government had the force to initiate the project after all the discussion and negotiation, the power to realize the project still lied on the general public and the private sectors’ hands.


Yoon. Seung Joong. Ibid. 1997.
Lee, J.J. (2006). The Partition of Korea After World War II – A Global History. Palgrave Macmillan
Joonwoo Kim. (2016). Apartment Urbanism – The Logics of Apartment Development in Seoul. University of Leuven.

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