SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, April 6, 2018 – What if you see a signage saying “Privately Owned. Do Not Enter” put up all of a sudden on a walking trail or in front of a mineral-water spring site on the mountain you go every day or every weekend? What if a neighborhood park suddenly disappears and a building is constructed instead?
This can be a reality in two years later because the Article on Invalidation of Decision on Urban Park of the Act on Urban Parks, Green Areas, Etc. will take effect as of July 1, 2020.
According to this Article, where the park building plan is not publicly notified on or before the date on which 20 years have lapsed from the date of notification of such decision on the urban management plan for building any urban park, any decision to build any urban park shall become invalid on the date immediately following the date on which 20 years have lapsed. In the meantime, even if a land is privately owned, it can be built as a park by a local government.
When the Article becomes in effect in 2020, 116 urban parks with a total size of 95.6 square kilometers that accounts for 83 percent of the total urban parks in Seoul and 46 percent of the total parks in Korea (942 square kilometers) will be out of the urban planning facility. That means the per capita urban park area will be reduced into one-third of the current level, which might result in a decrease in the citizens’ quality of life.
To tackle this problem, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the plan to preserve urban parks and green areas and to prevent unplanned, reckless development of the lands.
Before the Article’s enforcement in 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will take a special measure to issue local government bonds and inject a total of 1.6 trillion won ($ 1.5 billion) in purchasing 2.33 square kilometers of privately owned parks throughout the city. Meanwhile, it had invested 1.85 trillion won ($ 1.73 billion) in buying 4.92 square kilometers of private lands for the last 16 years from 2002 through 2017.