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Assessment of Urban Regeneration Projects with Historical and Cultural Resources in Down-town Seoul

Hyun-Suk MinㆍJi-Yeon Oh

The urban regeneration projects were assessed in down-town Seoul. In particular, due to the location of various historical and cultural resources representing Seoul’s identity, it is quite natural to use them for urban regeneration efforts. 

Through the review of literature on similar plans and previous studies, nine items were identified to evaluate current urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources. Additionally, the interviews were conducted with public servants, employees at urban regeneration support centers and local residents. They have been involved in urban regeneration projects.     

① Discovering historical and cultural resources and identifying their value: Instead of approaching issues related to local development directly, the local community was identified and its value was shared with local residents. This process reduced the distrust of locals for the public sectors and encouraged further understanding and cooperation on public projects.

② Promoting urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources to local residents: Even though it took some times, project officials continuously visited local residents in person and explained public projects in an easy-to-understand way. It helped to build trust with local residents and enhanced their understanding. It gradually changed their perception about public projects.

③ Educating local residents on the urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources: Along with theoretical education for urban regeneration projects, cultural education programs were provided for topics directly and indirectly related to daily life such as house repair, barista skills, and calligraphy. As a result, the participation of local residents who were not initially interested in urban regeneration education programs has been increased. In addition, it provided an opportunity for local residents, who never interacted with one another substantially, to communicate and cooperate with each other for urban generation projects.

④ Improving deteriorated facilities and promoting cultural contents with historical and cultural resources: It was necessary to supplement a top-down approach with a bottom-up approach. Experts and administrators should present a broad direction to ensure the public value of projects, whereas local residents suggest specific project action plans through workshops.

Meanwhile, there was an issue with maintaining consistency of urban regeneration projects from planning to implementing, managing and operating process, because ward officials were excluded from planning process. Urban regeneration projects should be planned together with ward officials, which have responsibility for project implementation, management and operation.

⑤ Offering contests with historical and cultural resources to local residents: Contests played a huge role in increasing local residents’ interest and participation in urban regeneration projects, and supplemented urban regeneration projects. It also facilitated local residents in improving their potential as servants of the local community, because it provided local residents a chance to plan and operate independent activities for urban regeneration with historical and cultural resources. It has contributed to increasing the sense of community between local residents.

⑥ Organizing resident associations and operating related programs: Various resident organizations in the local community have been involved in creating resident associations for urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources. Additionally, to make resident associations’ activities more efficient, the individual local issues have been discussed at the level of local divisions. 

⑦ Incorporating and sharing feedback from local residents through public-private partnership organizations, such as urban regeneration support centers: Various types of public-private partnership organizations were established and operated depending on the local conditions. The ordinary public-private partnership organizations included the chief coordinator and sub-coordinators in each field overseeing and coordinating the project as a whole. Occasionally organizations comprising multiple professional public-private partnerships formed a cooperative organizational system. However, in different cases, local residents communicated directly with the public sector instead of establishing an extra public-private partnership organization.
⑧ Ensuring public value through urban regeneration projects as well as external and internal changes: Urban regeneration projects centered on local residents clearly demonstrated successful outcomes, especially in regards to the relationships between people. Local residents, who had been at odds with one another over development issues, realized the value of their local area. They have implemented changes in their local area, opened up, and reconciled with each other through the urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources.

⑨ Ensuring the sustainability of urban regeneration projects: Urban regeneration cooperatives operate the public facilities initiated by the urban regeneration projects with historical and cultural resources, for local residents to keep urban regeneration activities independently in their local community. However, the sustenance of urban regeneration cooperatives is limited. Because urban regeneration cooperatives must be private organizations, cooperatives have no choice but to compete with local store owners to ensure a self-sustaining profit structure. In addition to establishing urban regeneration cooperatives, it is necessary to explore various strategies to ensure the sustainability of urban regeneration, depending on the social, cultural, and economic conditions in the local community.