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Analysis of the Current Situation and Suggested New Direction for the Seoul Healthy City Project

Eunsook MoonㆍMyung-Hee Seo


This study has five major parts. First, this study reviews the healthy city project conducted by Seoul Metropolitan City for the past 12 years. Second, this study presents suggestions to improve the Seoul Healthy City Project by generally considering World Health Organization (WHO) healthy city projects. Third, this study draws implications for the Seoul Healthy City Project from the abundant experiences and cases of European healthy cities. Fourth, this study aims to identify Seoul Metropolitan City’s role in healthy city projects throughout the Asian region. Fifth, this study proposes suggestions for developing a sustainable healthy city in Seoul. City environment and living conditions have great influence on a citizen’s health. It’s been proven that a citizen’s health status does not improve just by medical innovation, unless accompanied by a significant change in the city’s environment and living conditions through scientific evidence and experiences. The Healthy City Project is a new framework for changing current health policy that depends on disease control and medical technology.


The Healthy City Project is important for the following reasons:

1. It requires establishing a health plan for overall civic administration.

2. It identifies a strategy and a method to strengthen the role of local governments and utilizes local resources efficiently.

3. Healthy City Project outcomes have been realistically proven.

4. The Healthy City Project requires planning and establishing a health policy based on sufficient scientific evidence.

5. The Healthy City Project is helpful for overcoming the barriers and limitations of health policy in Seoul Metropolitan City.


In general, the Healthy City Project in Korea can be differentiated from the WHO Healthy City Project. The Healthy City Project in Korea can be classified as having the narrowest scope; while the European Healthy City Project has been based on the concept and normative value presented by the WHO. Most of the Healthy City Projects by local governments are a part of health promotion projects in public health centers.


There have been limitations on the Healthy City Project of Seoul Metropolitan City that includes several outcomes since becoming a WHO Healthy City member in 2003. Seoul City has opened the door for the Healthy City Project to spread throughout the country by initiating the organization of the Korea Healthy Cities Partnership(KHCP). It has since helped 22 autonomous districts build Healthy City Project bases through financial support and instrument development. Even with these efforts, the Seoul City Healthy City Project has not have been integrated with many existing different health policies or health initiatives, which has presented fundamental limitations on the project. Also, the content, size and implementing system changed whenever a new mayor was elected. These limitations present the necessity to reconstruct the Seoul Healthy City Project from the aspect of international status and social responsibility of Seoul Metropolitan City. Many global cities are sharing and cooperating through networks at the regional and national level, and supporting cities in developing countries. Seoul City should support and lead local governments actively and should strengthen international competitiveness as a healthy city equipped with a high quality of citizen health and health equity.



Suggestions for the New Direction of the Seoul Healthy City Project


1. Seoul City should identify the proper type of Healthy City Project by analyzing health determinants and profiles including: social and economic circumstances, physical environment, citizen’s health status and characteristics, physical and social sub structure, and community health resource systems.


2. A health development plan, and a mid to long‐term healthy city project plan, should be established since a sustainable Healthy City Project must be based on long‐term vision and planning.


3. A health impact assessment should be done since it is critical for success and can be used as a precautionary system to address health issues. A health impact assessment is especially effective for promoting health policies for transportation, the environment, housing, etc.


4. Seoul City should practice social responsibility as a global city. A Healthy City Project is a voluntary international agreement that requires sincere compliance, transparent reporting and cooperation among members. It is a social responsibility of Seoul City to cooperate with local governments in Korea and provide active support to cities in developing countries.


5. The biotope health ecosystem project, conducted as a Healthy City Project, should be reexamined. There have been problems related to the project including: uncertain organization of local health resources, confusion caused by health projects at biotope units, and the welfare administrative system at Dong(village‐units).


6. The Healthy City Projects should be differentiated from other similar projects and should be integrated with other projects for better development. For instance, the healthy living unit project, the health‐friendly village, the welfare healthy community project, and the biotope health ecosystem project can be integrated since their basic purposes are similar. Similar projects should be integrated and connected through proper measures.


7. A responsible support and cooperation system should be established for the local government Healthy City Projects. Healthy living unit projects should be integrated with other related local projects. Mid to long‐term vision planning, and the desire to implement, should be clearly presented.


8. A healthy governance system and various partnerships should be established for a Healthy City Project. The actual situation in the local area and community, as well as citizen’s needs and general awareness, should be reflected in a Healthy City Project. 



01 Introduction

1_Background and Purpose of the Study

2_Contents and Methods of the Study


02 Healthy City Projects of the WHO

1_Appearance of International Health Norms

2_WHO Healthy City

3_WHO Healthy City Project


03 European Healthy City Project

1_Progression of European Healthy City Project

2_Current Status and Characteristics of European Healthy City Project

3_Cases of European Healthy Cities


04 Healthy City Project in the West Pacific Asian Region

1_Current Status of the Healthy City Project

2_Major Cases of the Healthy City Project

3_Characteristics of the Healthy City Project


05 Seoul City healthy City Project

1_Healthy City Project in Korea

2_Healthy City Project in Seoul Metropolitan City

3_Healthy City Project in Autonomous Districts of Seoul City


06 Sustainable Development Goals of the Seoul Healthy City

1_Why the Healthy City Project Again?

2_Suggestions for the New Direction of the Seoul healthy City Project