SEOUL / Walkability as Covering Up Tool: Propaganda as a tool to promote walkability in public

When we argue walkability becomes a political tool for the Seoul government to cover up side effects, it is crucial for us to figure out how Seoul citizens were influenced. Seoul government treated people relation as a crucial component of the walkability project. The government launched a public campaign throughout the city, marketing all the citizens. Posters and banners with strong promotional slogans are used as propaganda to enhance the recognition of walkability project in public. In January 2018, a poster campaign was launched in Seoul subway station. [1] Poster with city map and small images of key walkability projects in Seoul centre including Seoullo 7017, Sewoon Sangga and the restoration of Dokseogung Palace and extremely positive slogan ‘잘 생겼다!’ which has the meaning of ‘Well Done!” and ‘Looking Good!’ could be found in the metro station [Figure 1], praising the citizens for their contribution to these walkability projects. At the same time, it spread the idea of the success of urban planning policy in making the city more beautiful and appealing.

[Figure 1] Poster with the slogan ‘Well Done!’ and ‘Look Good!’
[Figure 2] Logo of Seoul Solution
[Figure 3] Logo of The Seoul Institute
 

 

 

 

Moreover, the Seoul metropolitan government established institutes, including Seoul Solution [Figure 2] and the Seoul Development Institute [Figure 3]. They published reports and studies on the advantages of walkability. No disadvantages will be mentioned or evaluated in these report and they are covered in the mainstream scholars. These reports have collaborated with global institutes including Centre for Liveable Cities in Singapore, which is a way for Seoul government to enhance the authority of the reports. With the promotion and biased researches, most of the people in Seoul start believing walkability is a job well done and thus side effects are covered up.

 

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[1] Marieke Schmidt. “Shaping Seoul Employing Heritage in the Urban Regeneration Projects Seoullo 7017 and Again Sewoon” Asian Studies, Critical Heritage Studies, Leiden University, 2018, https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/bitstream/handle/1887/63787/Thesis%20Repository.pdf?sequence=1

 

2 Comments on “SEOUL / Walkability as Covering Up Tool: Propaganda as a tool to promote walkability in public

  1. It is important to listen to the voice of the vulnerable group of residents when making an influential decision on shifting the urban morphology and mode of human life. Moreover, to critically look at a policy and action from government with beautiful illusion brought by massive propaganda and be aware of the potential problems is quite necessary. However, to strengthen your argument and make your critique deeper, you could add more evidence and analysis of the systematically impacts brought by the policy and action on both the social, economic, codes, urban morphology as well as the residents’ behaviors. You need to look at this in a big Seoul context objectively and deeply. For example, why the government propose the promotion of walkability among neighborhoods except? Is there any other social issue need to be solve by proposing this policy rather than a showcase of mayor and a control on citizens?

    • The reduction of the use of the automobile is proposed in Korea for a long time and the walkability is promoted as a four-year urban development scheme in Seoul. Walkability does solve some social issue including improving air quality and improving cityscape in Seoul. The new infrastructure also connects different spots, creating new circulation pathways for the residents. The rate of using the walkability facilities is also high based on our observation in Seoul. We did quite a lot research on why walkability is promoted and its effects in Seoul, However, it is really hard for us to find researches holding negative stance towards the walkability scheme. As a result, in this narrative, I mainly focus on how the government is giving the biased information to the residents and not mention much about the complete Seoul context.

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