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Analysis and Development of the Planning Agendas for the Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan

Joo-Il Lee・Hye-Rim Yoon


In recent years, major cities around the world have gained greater economic independence, thereby shifting competition to the level of cities rather than countries. The physical boundaries of cities are also expanding to the scale of metropolitan regions, thus gaining global influence. The boundaries of labor and capital markets are no longer rigid, while major cities must compete to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants and attract better human capital.


Cities face risks in these endeavors and therefore must set clear visions with specific strategies and anticipated scenarios. Contemporary urban issues are so complex that the problems of a city cannot be solved in isolation; solutions need to be made collaboratively with the authorities of the towns and cities in the surrounding regions. Through this type of collaboration, the physical boundaries of a city expand, and the city then becomes known as a ‘mega-region’. In mega-regions such as the Metropole in France, the City Deal in the UK, Jingjinji in China, and the Seoul Metro politan Region in Korea, the cities work together to render the cities economically viable and administer multiple population centers as larger regions.


The Seoul Metropolitan Region, which encompasses the city of Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, constitutes a mega-region in South Korea, globally competing with other mega-regions in the world. The Seoul Metropolitan Region also competes with other Asian metropolitan regions to become the top global hub of the continent.


The city of Seoul is the spatial and functional center of the Seoul Metropolitan Region. As people are able to commute from regions far flung from Seoul through an increasingly expansive and efficient rail system, the boundaries of Seoul’s economic activity and culture have expanded. Urban issues such as adequate transportation, open space, and housing, as well as those related to land use, the environment, and industry are dealt with not only at the city level but also on a larger metropolitan and regional level. In fact, administrators can cope with these urban issues more effectively across a larger region. Numerous stakeholders, including academics and individuals in both the private and public sectors, need to share a single vision and strategy to ensure the Seoul Metropolitan Region becomes a better place in which to live.


The Seoul Metropolitan Region is planned and managed through the Seoul Metropolitan Area Readjustment Plan and the Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan. The primary goal of the Seoul Metropolitan Area Readjustment Plan, developed and administered by central government, is to restrict further growth of the region to encourage the sharing of resources with rural provinces. While the separate Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan was nominally established through collaboration between the central and local governments, in reality the central government’s objectives take precedence and the local government’s interest are difficult to discern. The Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan has the potential to assist in the development of the metropolitan region in a variety of ways. The plan has nonetheless primarily become a tool for the reduction of greenbelts and for the development of restriction zones. The Seoul Metropolitan Region requires a new framework and a paradigm shift towards better metropolitan planning and management, with greater consideration of recent global social and economic changes.


This research was conducted by various researchers of three research institutes from the Seoul Metropolitan Region, the Seoul Institute, the Incheon Institute, and the Gyeonggi Research Institute, prior to the updates made to the 2040 Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan. The goal of this research was to establish a new framework for the Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan, identifying the key issues for the Seoul Metropolitan Region and providing an action plan for each issue. Researchers analyzed the specific characteristics of the Seoul Metropolitan Region in both global and local contexts and developed visions, objectives, and strategies for metropolitan planning. The researchers also intended to encourage local leadership of the regional plan to ensure the plan addresses local needs.


As risks increase in metropolitan regions, this research is crucial for the future sustainability of Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province. It is thus important that the relevant personnel of these three primary areas of the Seoul Metropolitan Region continue to work collaboratively to provide solutions and a shared vision for the region’s future. From this opportunity, we expect that better ties will be formed among the three local authorities to achieve a shared vision, empowering global and local competitiveness and improving the lives of the 25,000,000 inhabitants of the Seoul Metropolitan Region. We intend that the key issues and action plans of the Seoul Metropolitan Region are applied to the updated version of the 2040 Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan.  




01 Introduction

1_Seoul Metropolitan Region in the World, Seoul Metropolitan Region in Korea

2_Contents and Methods


02 Why the Seoul Metropolitan Region?

1_Potential of the Seoul Metropolitan Region

2_Necessity of the Seoul Metropolitan Region


03 Crisis and Change of the Seoul Metropolitan Region

1_Crisis Facing the Seoul Metropolitan Region

2_Changes of the Seoul Metropolitan Region

3_Reaching the Limit of Planning and Management of the Seoul Metropolitan Region


04 Divisional Status and Assignment

1_Population and Housing

2_Industry and Economy

3_Land Use

4_Transportation and Infrastructure

5_Culture and Tourism

6_Environment and Prevention of Disasters, Energy

7_Regional Conflict

8_Conclusion and Assignment


05 Directions and Strategic Tasks of the Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan

1_Directions of Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan

2_Strategic Task 1: Strengthening International and Regional Competitiveness

3_Strategic Task 2: Improving the Quality of Life of 25 Million Residents

4_Strategic Task 3: Transition to Decentralized Government System


06 Conclusion

1_Synthesis of Research

2_Suggestions of Policy: Seoul Metropolitan Regional Plan Centered on Decentralized Development Strategy