Seoul / Developing Gangnam with Four Tools: 1-1 Consumersim

Historical Background under the urban development of Gangnam

 

When the development of Gangnam was carried out from the 1970s, it was developed as part of the plan for balancing the development of Seoul by dispersing the population of the overcrowded old city center and relocate it on the south of Hangang River. [1]And by 1990s, Gangnam had become the thriving, second Seoul, the New Seoul, the international face of a cosmopolitan South Korea, described as “a symbol of modernization, a new world expressing the desire to be free from historical captivity”.[2]  (2, Nelson, C.) As the newly developed area was settled, quite a few consumer-related business moved to some areas near Gangbuk (River North), including Apgujeing-dong area. To understand the appearance of the commercial area in relation to the historical context, the history of the urban development of Seoul should be considered into the scope.

Urban development of Gangnam: to disperse the population of River North

The population of Seoul was a million in 1953, and skyrocketed to 2.45 million by 1960, up 1.5 million in less than a decade. The growth of Seoul’s population was at a phenomenal rate, and it is hard for such a city’s previous planning to deal with such an expanding growth. Meanwhile, the urbanization quickly deteriorated the quality of life and slum areas were generated quickly across the city, with disorganized urban sprawl encroaching on the mountains, rivers, green belts, national land, and even roads. In 1970, the population of Seoul reached 5.43 million. The population growth was even more drastic and 76% of Seoul’s population lived in Gangbuk. The rest of the city’s population – 24% – lived to the south of the Han River, mostly in Yeongdeungpo. Yeongdong was therefore empty, and it is crucial for Seoul to disperse its population. Son Jeong-Mok, Former Director of Urban Planning Bureau stated the intention of developing Gangnam for the Seoul Metropolitan Government at that time:

“Gangbuk could no longer handle it. The population kept growing. The development of Gangnam first began in earnest in the 1970s, and the population was about 6 million at the time. Gangbuk couldn’t handle it. That’s how the development of Gangnam began.”[3]

“So the development of Gangnam began as part of Seoul’s population dispersal policy, with an aim to have 40% of the population north of the Han River and 60% to the south” (January 23, 1970, The Chosun Ilbo).

Policies to discourage centralization in Gangbuk

At the time when Basic Seoul Urban Plan was carried out in 1965, the development of Gangnam was launched aiming at providing for a new town designed to disperse urban functions and population to undeveloped areas. While Gangnam was designed to be a residential area, it had a higher ratio of land for public use when comparing to Gangbuk as the latter already had a built-up area. By 1975, the population of Seoul was nearing 7 million, forcing the Central and Seoul governments to encourage the development and construction of major facilities in Gangnam through very attractive assistance programs and policies to discourage concentration in Gangbuk.

At the same time, the government conducted a series of measures to discouraging concentration in Gangbuk and Promoting Construction of Major Facilities in Gangnam. By expanding the concept of “a special facility-restricted area” to boost the growth of sub-centers in 1972, the government prohibited the development of housing sites north of the Han River. Apartment buildings and private housing could not be built or sites developed in Gangbuk. “Construction or expansion of department stores, markets, universities, and other facilities that attract people to an area were forbidden. New restaurants, bars, university preparation schools, gas stations, and other facilities were either disallowed or obtaining a permit made very difficult.”[4]

Gangnam as another urban center in the “3-nuclei plan “

So during the mid-1970s, development of Gangnam began in earnest. Gangnam, along with the old city center and Yeouido, forms the 3 nuclei to Seoul’s urban structure according to the “3 nuclei plan”, with the aim of turning Gangnam into a high-density urban center. In this plan, the Yeouido and the Yeongdeongpo area began in 1970, were planned as the commercial center while Gangnam and Jamsil’s land readjustment districts were appointed as another city center and financial hub.

Figure 1 Left: Regions of Greater Seoul (Korean Planners Association Draft) from Seoul Urban Plan 1965; Right: Arrangement of sub-centers from Revision of the Basic Seoul Urban Plan 1970.

So during the mid-1970s, development of Gangnam began in earnest. Gangnam, along with the old city center and Yeouido, forms the 3 nuclei to Seoul’s urban structure according to the “3-nuclei plan”, with the aim of turning Gangnam into a high-density urban center. In this plan, the Yeouido and the Yeongdeongpo area began in 1970, were planned as the commercial center while Gangnam and Jamsil’s land readjustment districts were appointed as another city center and financial hub. [5]When Gangbuk city center had already run out of land for business use, with heavily congested condition with high rent and lack of parking space, but in Gangnam, there was land available for buildings for the postponing of the lot development near arterial roads. Also, the construction of the bridge and Metro line enhanced the accessibility of Gangnam.

 

 

 

[1]Jeong Insuk. The Streets of Gangnam Where Culture Flows. Retrieved from: http://e-gangnam.grandculture.net/Contents?local=e-gangnam&dataType=01&contents_id=EC04800016

[2] Laura C. Nelson.  Measured Excess: Status, Gender, and Consumer Nationalism in South Korea. Columbia  University Press. 2000. p 33.

[3] Myung-Gu Kang.  Development of Gangnam. Seoul Solution for Urban Development. 2015. Part 1.  p 38. Retrieved from https://seoulsolution.kr/sites/default/files/gettoknowus/Seoul%20Solution%20for%20Urban%20Development_Part1.pdf

[4] Myung-Gu Kang. Development of Gangnam. Seoul Solution for Urban Development. 2015. Part 1.  p 48-49. Retrieved from https://seoulsolution.kr/sites/default/files/gettoknowus/Seoul%20Solution%20for%20Urban%20Development_Part1.pdf

[5] Myung-Gu Kang. Development of Gangnam. Seoul Solution for Urban Development. 2015. Part 1.  p 39-40. Retrieved from https://seoulsolution.kr/sites/default/files/gettoknowus/Seoul%20Solution%20for%20Urban%20Development_Part1.pdf

1 Comment on “Seoul / Developing Gangnam with Four Tools: 1-1 Consumersim

  1. The idea of multi-nuclei city in Seoul, as opposed with the concentric model which is prevalent in numerous cities around the globe, may be another way out of expanding and developing cities. The most obvious benefit for a multi-nuclei model may be encouraging densification at different nodes of a city, thus preventing congestion at urban scale and the creation of social problems of commute, insufficient land supply and ever-inflating property price. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam (which we are currently studying), has also adopted a similar approach of expanding the city by creating dispersed residential, commercial and industrial zoning at the outskirt. The spatial construct and coherence of the city as a whole, however, was not perfectly successful in the case of Hanoi. It makes me ponder that being a historic city with rich culture of street life and intimate relationship between people, streets and architecture, the modernistic newly developed area was not inheriting the existing urban fabric, and the activities of the users were not contained in Hanoi’s characteristic manner. When the majority of the city becomes generically “modern”, the value and the spirit may only be preserved in the so-called “old city”. What is the balance between culture, history, socio-economics and modernisation? Did the same issue happen throughout the historical discussion in the development of Seoul, or is this issue of any importance?

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