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  • Seoul to Level the Playing Field with “Invest in Gangbuk First” Strategy

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    • •Seoul city mayor Won-soon Park finished his 1 month stay in Samyang-dong and announced the policy initiative for regional balanced development on 19th(Sun) August
      • 1. Transportation: Seoul city will shift the four railway projects in non-Gangnam districts into a budgetary program and make it mandatory for public facilities to install parking lots for car sharing
      • 2. Residential environment: Seoul will buy 1,000 units of empty houses and thoroughly introduce a small scale maintenance model even in the areas where new construction is not available
      • 3. Street economy: The city government will build up an “economic ecosystem in a virtuous cycle” driven by residents and develop a town-wise “neighborhood commercial zone project”
      • 4. Education, culture and caring infrastructure: Seoul will solve the gap between the rich and poor by implementing the university-based education program and expanding the infrastructure
      • 5. Moving public agencies to Gangbuk district: The city government will finalize the plan this year through a task force team and consider Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation as the first candidate.
      • 6.Finance and organization: Seoul will assign 1 trillion won as 「the Special Accounting for Balanced National Development」 and make a big shift in the investment concept from installing one facility in each Gu (borough) to focusing on the marginalized areas.


    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, Aug 20, 2018 – The Seoul city government announces detailed plans for each topic by the end of this year. Seoul will continuously pursue the regional balanced development in a progressive manner.

    Moving out from the one-month-stay in Samyang-dong, Gangbuk-gu, Mayor Won-soon Park announced his policy initiative on 19th (Sun) August. It aims to solve the issues of Gangbuk district and promote the regional balanced development, which is a chronic headache of Seoul.

    The solutions start from “streets” and “towns.” And the effort goes off in the direction of “investment in Gangbuk district first.” The Seoul city government will focus its investment in transportation, urban planning and residence in Gangbuk district as it was in the development of Gangnam district in the 1970s. The city government aims to expand the living infrastructure in Gangbuk. It aims to revitalize the street economy into a regional economic ecosystem in a virtuous cycle driven by residents. The street economy collapsed by large retailers and franchise. The initiative is to help Gangbuk develop its own distinctive edge.

    Here are key plans. ▲ Seoul city will turn the urban railway projects of 4 routes in non-Gangnam area including Myeonmok-dong into a budgetary project. These projects showed little progress as it was difficult to select a private project owner. Seoul will early break ground before 2022. ▲ Seoul will consider a new type of transportation means such as inclined monorail to help the elderly and other vulnerable easily pass the slopes and hills. ▲ Seoul will run a “neighborhood commercial zone project” to provide a comprehensive support for traditional markets and small stores. ▲ Seoul will move its public offices to Gangbuk district and newly establish a city kids hospital such as the ones in Gangnam area. ▲ Seoul will assign 1 trillion budget for “the Special Accounting for Balanced National Development.”

    Mayor Park emphasized that “The today’s gap between Gangnam and Gangbuk districts was caused by urban planning, transportation system, school district policy, large-scale housing supply favorable for Gangnam in the 1979s. If we don’t make a decisive decision, investment and revolutionary policy changes to level the playing field which has been uneven for decades, we will end up repeatedly making a policy failure. Seoul city will make a real change that residents can feel the difference through a paradigm shift in balanced development policy to put Gangbuk first in investment.”

    Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the “Imbalanced Strategy to Strike a Balance Again” focusing on 6 agendas as follows: ① installing transportation infrastructure, ② improving residential conditions, ③ strengthening the independent capacity of regional economies, ④ building up educational, cultural and caring facilities, ⑤ strategically moving the public agencies, and ⑥ shifting a paradigm in financial investment.

    < ① Transportation: turning the 4 railway projects in non-Gangnam area into the budgetary project and making it mandatory for public facilities to install a parking lot for car sharing >

    First, the city government speeds up establishing the urban railway in marginalized non-Gangnam area. It was originally planned as a private-funding project, but showed little progress due to low economic feasibility. Seoul turns these projects into the budgetary projects to make a real progress. The 4 railways include ▲Myeonmok Line, ▲Ui-Sinseol Line, ▲Mokdong Line, and ▲Nangok Line. The projects will be also included in the “Seoul City’s Second 10-Year-Plan of Urban Railway Network” (to be announced at the end of this year). Seoul aims to break ground within 2022 and speed up the process. The city government considers introducing “a new type of transportation means” like inclined monorail and gondola in consideration of geographic features with a lot of slopes and hills where residents find it difficult to have access through conventional public transportation.

    The lack of parking spaces is the one of the key inconveniences in the densely-housed areas in non-Gangnam district. To solve this issue, the Seoul city government will open the era of “car sharing” starting from Gangbuk to promote the car sharing lifestyle. It makes it mandatory for public facilities to install the “parking lots reserved for car sharing”, provide the city budget to expand the public parking spaces, and utilize the empty space on the roadside for parking lot.

    < ② Residential environment: buying 1,000 units of empty houses and thoroughly introducing a small scale maintenance model even in the areas where new construction is not available >

    Second, Seoul will repair and renovate the old houses accounting for 72% of low-floor houses and surrounding poor residential spaces. Seoul will improve the poor living infrastructure in Gangbuk and encourage the young and newly-wed couples to move into the district who have difficulties in finding a right house for the. It is part of effort to revitalize the region. Seoul will start the “Urban Regeneration Project Using Empty House” by purchasing long-abandoned vacant houses and turning them into “youth entrepreneur space”, “youth house”, and “community facility.” Seoul will set up a guideline by carrying out a reality check in all autonomous districts. It will purchase 400 units of houses first in 2019. Seoul aims to buy a total of 1,000 units by 2022 and deliver 4,000 units of houses for the youth and newly-married couples.

    Seoul will promote “small-scale maintenance” so that residents can autonomously participate in that effort. It’s impossible to have a maintenance projects other than re-development in some areas like lands with the accessible roads, small or irregular lots. For those spaces, citizens can choose the maintenance options depending on their situation. The available options are ▲ maintenance ▲ house repair ▲ remodeling ▲building agreement / autonomous housing maintenance project / block-unit housing rearrangement projects

    < ③ Street economy: creating a “residents-driven economic system in a virtuous cycle” and starting a “village-wise neighborhood commercial zone project” >

    Third, Seoul proposed building up a “regional economic system in a virtuous cycle” to turn around the street economy collapsing due to big conglomerates and franchises. Residents will play a main role in making profit and creating jobs, and then the profit can be flowed into their region again. Seoul will provide a considerable support in this regard. The city government will look for various business cases like regional caring service, sharing parking lots and recycle based on residents’ demand. Seoul will give “additional scores in public tender projects” to regional bidders such as cooperatives and village enterprises. To do so, the city government will work on revising the relevant laws.

    Seoul will also start the 「Neighborhood Commercial Zone Project」. The city plans to revitalize the town economy by providing support for small retailer in need in addition to the public support for traditional markets. It aims to invigorate the local economy by enhancing the competitive edge of commercial zone, which is a hub of residents’ neighborhood community. Seoul will fully visualize its plan to designate commercial zones in line with 「2030 Seoul Neighboring Area Plan」 through discussion with city and Gu (district) from 2019. Seoul city government has already distributed the portion of commercial zones (1.34million ㎡ in total) in March, mainly for North-East area (44%, 590,000㎡) and South-West area (30%, 400,000㎡) which were relatively marginalized.

    < ④ Education, culture and caring infrastructure: resolving the gap by conducting a university-based education program and expanding the infrastructure >

    Fourth, Seoul will improve the educational environment and programs to address the educational gap, helping students in non-Gangnam schools get the quality education. Most of the universities in Seoul are located in non-Gangnam districts (49 out of 51 universities). Based on this, Seoul will run various types of educational and vocational training programs working together with universities and high schools. The city government will start pilot projects in 4 universities (Korea, Gwangwoon, Sejong and Chungang) in 2019 in line with the campus town projects. Professors will provide “career mentoring” while universities will open a “tailored training courses” based on their specialized majors.

    Regarding infrastructure, Seoul will create IT-based learning environment by providing smart devices like the Smart Pad and 3d printer in 30 schools every year (a total of 120 schools by 2022), starting from next year. Seoul will open 「Culture and Arts Class」to give students musical and music lessons in 27 elementary schools every year (108 schools in total by 2022). The city government will install gyms at 29 schools in North-East district by 2022.

    Seoul sets up the principle that over 90% of new day care centers are located in non-Gangnam area. Based on the guideline, the city government will establish “care centers for various ages from infant and kids to elementary students”. The plan is to open ▲ 373 open day care centers for infants and kids, ▲ 486 national day care centers, and ▲ 357 town-wise day care centers (KIUM center). A new “kids hospital” will be established in Kangbuk district, too.

    < ⑤ Moving public agencies to Gangbuk district: finalizing the plan this year through a task force team and consider Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation as the first candidate >

    Fifth, Seoul will move the public offices under Seoul Metropolitan Government into Gangbuk district. The shortlist includes Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation, the Seoul Institute, and Seoul Human Resources Development Center that are located in Gangnam area. The city government will run a 「Task Force Team for Movement of Public Agencies」, finalize and announce the movement plan this year, to maximize the effect of movement.

    < ⑥ Assigning 1 trillion won as “the Special Accounting for Balanced National Development” and making a big shift in the “investment concept” from installing one facility in each Gu (borough) to focusing on the marginalized areas >

    Last but not least, Seoul reassures its willingness to take real actions to promote regionally balanced development through organization and fund. So far, the city has applied the plan to install “one public facility for every autonomous district,” made in the 1990s, without exception. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will make a big shift in the standard of building up a public facility. Seoul will conduct a survey on imbalances of public facilities by region this year. Based on the survey results, Seoul will declare the 「Seoul Standards for Balanced Development」 containing the standards that every Seoul citizen should deserve. The standard will be applied starting from 2019 with budget assignment. Seoul will assign 1 trillion won as the “Special Accounting for Balanced National Development” (2019-2022). The budget will be utilized to promote a balanced development. Seoul will form this special accounting in a way that it can ensure stable fund sources. In this regard, the special accounting will be sourced from the grants from Special Account for Balanced National Development, transferred amount from general and special accounting, , excessive contribution and so on.

    As Seoul has just set up the comprehensive principles and direction for the balanced development policy, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will announce the detailed action plans by the end of this year. The elaborated plans will cover each policy agenda such as transportation, residential environment, and local economic vitalization. The Seoul city government mentions that this effort won’t be just a one-time declaration, but instead, it will make a continuous change with a long perspective in Gangbuk district.