Seoul/ Gangnam: The City With Four Tools (1990-2000) 3-4 Behind Gangnam’s Education

Using different methods, Gangnam in the 1990s has successfully established a new center of Seoul which has turned into another nation that represents the modern and prestigious class of the city. The process of the development has always been disguised behind the big development wills. But as most development plans, it has been linked to various private sectors and has to cater to the profits of different groups of people.

Stated in past post, education was used as the driving method to stimulate the decentralization process of Gangbuk area. In 1972, the Ministry of Education announced the relocation of Seoul Metropolitan High School to Gangnam. The Ministry of Education stated:

“I want the students to escape the increasingly serious urban pollution problem and overcrowded environment. I also want to make it a model case to disperse the overcrowded population in Seoul metropolitan area.”

Figure 1 Prior to moving to Gangnam Gyeonggi High School Gyeonggi High School moved to Gangnam-gu, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu on February 20, 1976, Phtography photo taken by Chon Sang Bong in third floor exhibition room of Seoul Library.
Ⓒ Chon Sang Bong

Kyunggi High School was the first to be targeted and forced to move to Gangnam area. Kyunggi High School was established as Korea’s first formal government secondary education institution in, 1900. The history of Kyunggi High School parallels the history of secondary education in Korea. It was targeted because of its prestigious status in the society. As the relocation plan was announced, Kyunggi district strongly opposed and so did the students and alumni, striking campaigns. To counteract the rebellion, Kyunggi high school was awarded a land of 23000 pyeong, and the cost of transferring the school was one billion won, twice the cost of re-establishing ordinary high schools. In the relocation process, other than being passively dragged out of the original location, each school wanted to get as much benefit as possible. (Jeon, 2017)


Figure 2 Whimoon High School On October 28, 1972 Whimoon High School sold the site in Wonsa-dong, Jongno-gu and moved to Daechi-dong in Gangnam-gu     Ⓒ Chon Sang Bong

The second most prestigious school was the Whimoon High School. It was a private institution established in 1904. It was relocated because of the development restrictions on the foundation-owned Daechi-dong land. In 1978, the whole school moved to Daechi-Dong, Gangnam District and sold the original site to Hyundai E&C at the price of 1.1 billion won. (Jeon, 2017)The site was later on proposed to build high-rise office and hotel that would cause the increase in population and also traffic congestion which was contrary to the previous presumption of decentralization of Gangbuk. To buy a large land in Gangnam and build new buildings, the sale of the existing school site should be preceded. The city government connected the private development companies to the school to facilitate the redevelopment of the school site. (Gwang , 2016)

As the prestigious high schools relocated to Gangnam, they were concentrated in ‘School District No. 8’. It attracted the centralization of middle and upper-class population to cluster around the school. Relocation of the schools and the construction of schools in Gangnam are often a method to boost the price of Apartment complexes.

Taking Apgujeong-dong as an example. As an index of distorted power, Apgujeong-dong is inseparable from the ideology of the “Gangnam mythology.” After implementing the “basic program of Seoul” development plan, Apgujeong-dong became a new population center. In fact, the policy was used as an excuse for wealth accumulation by the ruling class. Political and economic relationships of interests operated behind the development of Apgujeong-dong. It can be seen in the real estate speculations by men in power, preferential distributing of apartments and large business monopoly, Hyundai E&C, of development projects backed by political power. (Park, 2013) Augujeong-dong is a place that is highly influenced by Hyundai E&C Company. The Hyundai Apartment complex constructed by the company was the most expensive housing to live in. After the establishment of the Hyundai High School, the housing price of the apartment complex further increased.

To boast the housing price in the Gangnam district, several high schools which were considered to be moved to other parts of Seoul was moved into the Gangnam district. For example, Sookmyung Girls’ High School. Doggok-dong in Gangnam district was selected among Bangbar-dong in Seocho district and Shinlim-dong in Gwanak district in 1979.The Kyunggi Girls’ High School which was recommended to move to Mok-dong in Yangcheon district but later moved to Gaepo-dong in Gangnam district instead. (Jeon, 2017)

At the time, the Gangnam district had to accept students from neighboring districts due to the lack of high school entrance students. In contrast, in Yeongdeungpo district, Gwanak district, and Gangseo district were short of schools and students had to go to nearby schools. Thus, the relocation process contrast to the statement of the Ministry of Education did not start from an “educational” perspective but was rather a product of administrative convenience and was a the government, the school, and private development companies trying to benefit from Gangnam’s development.



Gwang , S. S., 2016. What is ‘8th district’ in Gangnam? Professor Oh Je Yeon traces the birth of ‘8th district’ in Kangnam. [Online]
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[Accessed 24 12 2017].

Jeon, S.-b., 2017. I do not want to go to Gangnam. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 24 12 2014].

Park, J., 2013. Institutional Explanations of Shaping a Particular Housing Culture in South Korea:A Case Study of the Gangnam District in Seoul, s.l.: Department of Town and Regional Planning The University of Sheffield .

Park, M. J., n.d. Kyunggi High School. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 24 12 2017].

Park, M. J., n.d. School District 8. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 24 12 2017].

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