SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, March 16, 2018 – Seoul, the capital of South Korea, wins the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2018, considered as the “Nobel Prize” For the cities. It is the fifth recipient, after earlier wins by Medellin in Colombia, Suzhou in China, New York City in the United States, and Bilbao in Spain.
First awarded in 2010, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is a biennial international award honoring outstanding achievements in the creation of liveable, vibrant and sustainable urban communities around the world. It is an award organized by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC).
Seoul was selected for its urban regeneration projects the city has implemented with active participations of the citizens, which includes “pedestrian” regeneration (“Yonsei-ro,” Seoul’s first transit mall, a zone restricted to pedestrians, bicycles and public transportation), “history and culture” regeneration (Cheonggyecheon stream restoration), and “industry” regeneration (Dongdaemun Design Plaza).
The nominating committee for the prize said, “in an effort to deal with the “doughnut effect,” a phenomenon that the city center becomes more hollow or empty, as businesses and people move into the outskirt of the city, and to revive the stagnant local economy, Seoul chose to regenerate the city, instead of overall pulling down, and encourage the citizens to participate in the process,” and added, “now, Seoul is transformed into a city of regeneration for pedestrians and industries, as well as history and culture. Also it outlines the framework for urban planning that is allowed to improve the quality of life of the citizens.”
The Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize comprises of a gold medallion, an award certificate and an SGD300,000 prize money. The awarding ceremony will take place during the upcoming World Cities Summit (WCS), which will be held in Singapore in July 2018.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to use the prize money for its strategic overseas export of best municipal practices and Official Development Assistance (ODA) project for other developing countries.
The first winner of the prize, Bilbao was selected in 2010 for its transformation of a declined industrial city into a creative city of culture and knowledge-based economy; New York City in 2012 for its remarkable transformation in the decade since the 2001 World Trade Center attack; Suzhou in 2014 for its demonstration of sound planning principles and good urban management; and Medellin in 2016 for its transformation from a notoriously violent city to one that is being held up as a model for urban innovation.