Seoul: Yeouido Project/Investment and Economic System behind the Project

Yeouido project was started in a period of rapid industrialization and modernization of South Korea. The second Five Year Plan from 1967 to 1971 focused more on the heavy industry and export trade. Economic growth gave the possibility of building mega project and master plan. However, rapid economic growth does not mean that it is possible to concentrate large capital on ideal project, which is one of the reasons that the first Yeouido Master Plan designed by Kim Soo-Geun was dropped.

Kim’s master plan applied large mega structure and complex vertical systems including several levels of traffic and elevated pedestrian deck. The integrated and ideal design means that the Yeouido Project need large budget at the beginning and allow few chances of change after the development.

Ideal Design for Yeouido by Kim Soo-Geun

As the Korean Engineering Consultants Corporation (KECC) said in 1969:

“The architects explained the logic of their project by first posing the question ‘what is the essential characteristic of modern civilization?’ the answer was ‘the drive for development’ which would be achieved by the concentration of modern capital.’ For the CIAM principles of sunlight. Green and open space to be properly applied to Korea’s real situation we are squarely faced with the necessity that large amount of modern capital must be speedily invested and concentrated, from the stans point of the public citizen, into the capital of our old Kingdom’.…“

It could be seen that KECC, led by Kim Soo-Geun, has the ambition of capital concentration as they did the ideal design for Yeouido. However, it is not that realistic in the starting of modernization of the country.

The final plan for Yeouido applied conventional grid plan and subdivision strategy, which is simpler and gave possibilities of further development and different strategies. Moreover, the buildings on Yeouido were not designed together with other systems. Instead, the government gain profits from selling lands and use that profit for other projects. In this case, the traditional grid plan also released some economic pressure of this development.

Traditional Subdivision Strategy using in Yeouido Master Plan

A lot of data said:

“Most of the cost of the Yeouido development was covered by sales of the improved land to the private sector and to other special accounts of Seoul City, such as Housing. Only 13 percent in the way of general account subsidy has been necessary in the overall financing of the Han River Project. “

From this comparison of these two plans and investment systems behind, it could be seen that ideal design could not be reality at that situation has reasons in many aspects, one of which is the capital issue. City planning project needs to consider future development as a whole and continuous process.


  1. Bahl, Roy W. and Michael J. Wasylenko. “Urban Finance in Seoul.” Development Degest 14, no. 2 (1976): 20-30. U. S. Government Printing Office.
  2. Kim, Joochul. Seoul: The Making of a Metropolis. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.
  3. Kim, Jung In. “Constructing a ‘miracle,’ Architecture, National Identity and Development of Han River: A Critical Exploration of Architecture and Urbanism: Seou’, 1961-1988.” PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2008.
  4. Pai, Hyungmin. “Modernism, Development, and the Transformation of Seoul: A Study of the Development of Sae’oon Sang’ga and Yoido.” In Culture and the City in East Asia, edited by Won Bae Kim, 104-24. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

2 Comments on “Seoul: Yeouido Project/Investment and Economic System behind the Project

  1. This narrative introduced the conflict between the development of mega projects and the economic limits in the project of Yeouido. Actually, the limited budget is a common problem for architects, and in this narrative the author analysis how the first project of Kim was dropped and how he solved the problem of limited budget, inspiring people thinking of the solutions facing to the conditions of limited sources.

  2. All the narratives are organized in a logical way which clued by the renovation plan of Yeouido promoting by central and local governments in Seoul. It is intriguing to see the conflict among the personal style of the architect, the national identity shaping under interference of the political ideology and the financial pressure of project. You could explore more on how the politician, architects and private stakeholders to deal with this contradictory under what kind of sociopolitical frame. In this post, I may hope to know how this conventional grid plan shape and express the new regime identity and its nationalist image.

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