Seoul/ Developing Gangnam With Four Tools(-1990): 3-1 Education
South Korea is well-known for its high standard education and intense competition for university entry, and the Gangnam district is considered the country’s capital of education. While its population only makes up 1% of the whole country, in 2010, roughly 6% of the successful candidate of Seoul National University came from this district. (Park, 2013) With the concentration of the most prestigious high schools and private education institutions, Gangnam district became the most expensive and attractive district to live in South Korea. But it is not until the 1970s has the district started to be developed and occupied.
After Japanese occupation (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953), many people abroad returned to Korea, settling in Seoul other than their hometowns. In 1966 to 1977 the population growth rate peaked at 59.2%. By 1985, Seoul had 23.8% of the total population and became a giant metropolis. (Han Un , Jae Seob 2002) Started by the 1970s the city government has implemented various decentralization policies in responding to the overcrowded city. The development of the Gangnam area, the southern side of Han river, became a crucial way to expand the original city that has been of similar size for over 600 years.
Educational infrastructures were used as a stimulus to decenter the population of Gangbuk. Underlined the modernization process of the Korean society embeds the traditional Confucian belief that good education leads to the rise in social status and bright future. The almost religious belief in education led to the successful creation of a new center. To discourage the concentration in Gangbuk area, the government implemented the prohibition on the renovation and establishment of schools in the Gangbuk region (1974) and inducements for the relocation of preparatory schools located within the four main gates of Seoul outside the gates and to Gangnam (1976). In 1976, the government targeted at the educational infrastructures, the prestigious high schools located in the old city center were relocated to the Gangnam area. Starting with Gyeonggi High School, one of the first high schools of Seoul, eight high schools, were moved to today’s Gangnam district. In the 1980s a total of 15 high schools were moved, creating the famous “Eight school districts”. (Soo, 2016)
Not only were the public education institutions targeted, but private institutions were also involved. According to the Kyung Hyang Newspaper published on the sixth of December 1978, following up with the Private Institution Movement Plan, private institutions situated at the center of Seoul (Jong-ro, Gwanghwamun area) are planned to move to outskirts of Gangbuk and Gangnam area till January of next year. Among 39 institutions, nine moved to Gangnam district. According to the previous plan, Seoul Education Board banned the building of new private institutions in Gangbuk area and conducted strict methods to force private institutions to move to the outskirt of Seoul.
With the movement of the private and public education institutions to Gangnam, accompanied with the apartment development plan proposed in the same year 1976 and government’s promotion in moving the upper-class population of Gangnam. South Korea’s passionate pursuit of good education has fueled the continued migration to Gangnam ever since. (Kang, 2015)
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