Some people think of cities as living, breathing organisms that are continuously growing. The streets of a city stretch out from its heart across the land like the blood vessels of a living creature. Imbued with life, cities are constantly changing.
Of course, cities undergo change due to the needs of the people, and this continuous rearrangement of urban spaces transforms the lives of the people.
With time, all landscapes of this planet are transformed by the power of nature. However, cities are transformed and reborn through the efforts of people rather than through natural phenomena. In particular, Seoul Metropolitan Government has reconstructed or redeveloped numerous deteriorated areas of the city and enhanced its standing in the international community. Moreover, by combining culture and sports, Seoul was able to further increase its competitiveness on a global scale.
As a means of raising Korea’s national competitiveness, Seoul Metropolitan Government developed a strategic plan in 2008 to rearrange space in the Yeongdong sub-central area and expand the sub-central area to Jamsil. In 2011, the city announced its vision to transform this region into a global “BEST” city, which will lead the growth of Seoul’s competitiveness in the future. “BEST” is an acronym for Business & Convention, Entertainment, Sports, and Tourism. Furthermore, in 2013, the city government established the “2030 Seoul Plan,” the goal of which is to foster the Gangnam area, among the three city centers, as a venue for MICE events and international affairs.
In April 2014, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon announced the “Comprehensive Development Plan for the COEX-Jamsil Sports Complex Area” with the aim of building an international complex within a space encompassing the COEX in Gangnam, Tancheon Stream, and the Jamsil Sports Complex by 2023.
Seoul International Complex will be developed through public and private cooperation with a focus on four major industries: international affairs, MICE, sports, and culture and entertainment. The largest urban renewal project the city has ever undertaken, the Seoul International Complex project will connect the three abovementioned, rather isolated areas in an environmentally friendly way, and is expected to create an enormous economic ripple effect in the future.
Jamsil Sports Complex served as the venue for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, which were a resounding success. However, as the facilities were constructed in the 1970s and 80s, their condition has begun to deteriorate and are in urgent need of modernization and renovation.
Currently, Jamsil Sports Complex consists of the Olympic Stadium, auxiliary stadium, baseball stadium, arena, students’ gymnasium, and two indoor swimming pools. And except for the Olympic Stadium, all of these facilities will be relocated. The students’ gymnasium will be relocated to a different place in the city, and the other facilities, including the baseball stadium, will be moved to different locations within the complex. Seoul Metropolitan Government is now drawing up plans for the construction of exhibition and convention facilities, hotels, and shopping and culture facilities, based on private investment, in the spaces secured through the relocation of the Jamsil Sports Complex facilities.
Currently, Seoul is ranked fifth place in the world in terms of the number of international conferences and exhibitions the city hosts, notwithstanding its severe lack of infrastructure for hosting such events.
In terms of the size of its exhibition and convention centers, Seoul ranks 20th in the world, and the size of the COEX, Seoul’s largest exhibition and convention facility, is only 190th in the world. When the city completes the construction of the planned exhibition and convention facility, featuring a combined floor space of over 150,000 square meters, and related support facilities, the city will open a new chapter in its history as one of the top three convention cities in the world, and is expected to attract several millions of MICE tourists every year . In particular, Seoul International Complex will be a global attraction that completely integrates international affairs, MICE, sports, and culture and entertainment.
Tancheon Stream passes through Samseong-dong, in Gangnam-gu, and Jamsil-dong, in Songpa-gu, and flows into the Hangang River. Located on opposite sides of the stream, Gangnam and Songpa are currently connected by Olympic-daero, and the areas alongside the stream are used as parking lots.
Although Gangnam and Songpa are connected by road, there are no other connections allowing people to move between them freely. Moreover, as the areas alongside the stream are used as parking lots, there are no green spaces for people to enjoy.
With the construction of Seoul International Complex, the three main roads in the area (Olympic-daero, Tancheondong-ro, and Tancheonseo-ro) will be moved underground, and the parking lots alongside Tancheon Stream will be relocated. In their place, a pleasant, eco-friendly space, where people can move about freely between the Gangnam and Songpa areas, will be created.
Also, with the installation of marina facilities and creation of parks, the banks of the Hangang River in the area will be transformed into a wonderful green space that provides diverse opportunities to Seoul citizens for leisure and relaxation.
Once all of this is completed, and Gangnam, Songpa, Jamsil Sports Complex, the COEX, Tancheon Stream, and the Hangang River are all connected, it will have a profound impact on the lives of Seoul citizens, offering them greater opportunities to lead more enriched and prosperous lives. Also, it will trigger the continuous development of spaces designed specifically for citizens.
Seoul International Complex is currently being developed based on clear communication with Seoul citizens and citizen participation. In November 2014, Seoul Metropolitan Government conducted a theme-based project through which it collected 47 excellent ideas for the complex from citizens, including the construction of a sports museum and a camping site. From January to May 2015, the online “Post ’88 Jamsil Sports Complex Idea Competition for Citizens” was held to collect ideas from citizens on ways to revitalize the Jamsil Sports Complex area. Many citizens indicated their belief that connecting the isolated areas around the Hangang River and Tancheon Stream would revitalize the area.
Between April and September 2015, the city government held the “International Idea Competition for the Urban Regeneration of the Jamsil Sports Complex Area.” This was a competition designed to encourage experts in urban planning, architecture, landscaping, and finance to come up with ideas for the Jamsil Sports Complex, which will be an important part of the Seoul International Complex, as well as ways to create and discover new value and transform the area into an internationally renowned tourist attraction.
A total of 698 teams from 63 countries around the world submitted ideas, and among them, three prizewinners and five honorable mentions were selected. The selected ideas will be reflected in the master plan for the Seoul International Complex.
The expected effects of the construction of Seoul International Complex include massive job creation, a significant increase in the number of foreign tourists, an increase in Seoul’s GDP, the enhancement of Seoul’s brand, and the vitalization of the national economy.
Furthermore, the economic ripple effects of the construction of Hyundai Motor’s Global Business Center, a project that preceded that of Seoul International Complex, are predicted to amount to KRW 265 trillion over 27 years (including the seven-year construction period and the following 20 years) and 1.22 million new jobs: 230,000 in the automobile industry, 220,000 in the construction industry, 480,000 in the hospitality and retail industries, 120,000 in the financial and service industries, and about 180,000 in the mechanical manufacturing industry. This will cause an increase of KRW 1.5 trillion in tax revenues over the same time period.
Seoul International Complex will spearhead the growth of Seoul’s economy, which has been in a recession since the global economic crisis of 2008, and play a central role in the city. Once construction is complete, not only Seoul citizens but people around the world will have diverse opportunities for new and exciting experiences. As more and more such remarkable spaces are created, Seoul will be reborn as a city full of leisure and passion, where people can conduct their business during the day while overlooking the city and enjoy some relaxation or leisure sports in the evening.