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Coping with Emerging High-impact Urban Disasters in Seoul

Author: 
Sang-Young ShinㆍKwonjoong ChohㆍHang-Moon ChoㆍJong-Seok Wonㆍ Chang-Woo ShonㆍMiree ByunㆍSang-Gyoon KimㆍYoun-Sang Lee

Recently, Seoul and Korea have experienced large-scale or newly emerging disasters frequently such as land slides, infectious diseases, earthquakes, and ferry sinks. Emerging high-impact urban disasters are difficult to prepare and respond because they are difficult to predict due to high levels of uncertainty and large-scale consequences once taking place. They are typically beyond usual public concerns and capacity. This study identifies emerging high-impact urban disasters in Seoul in the future and proposes policy directions to cope with such disasters.
First, the study discusses concepts of emerging high-impact urban disasters and various associated concepts. Criteria of high-impact disasters are also reviewed with existing institutions and policies.
Second, through past cases of urban disasters of Seoul and other metropolitan cities, the study analyses characteristics and trends of high-impact urban disasters. Also, the study looks through changes of urban conditions and the impacts on disaster risks in terms of urban spaces, socioeconomic changes, climate change, newly emerging technologies, and international situations.
Third, based on questionnaire survey data, the study analyzes perceptions of citizen and experts on emerging high-impact urban disasters.
Fourth, the study identifies possible emerging high-impact urban disasters in Seoul in the future. Such disasters are classified into two types: traditional high-impact disasters that have persistently taken place and are predicted to increase in future, and emerging urban disasters that are anticipated to take place in future in terms of changes of urban conditions and experiences of other metropolitan cities.
Fifth, the study proposes policy directions to cope with emerging high-impact urban disasters in Seoul. As a basic directive concept, the study emphasizes to secure urban disaster resilience since the disasters are beyond usual capacity and resources due to unpredictability and uncertainty. Under the umbrella of urban resilience, the study propose policy and institutional changes in terms of comprehensive disaster reduction capacities of urban spaces, crisis management systems, and information sharing and knowledge building.
Finally, the appendix shows evacuation simulations with the case study of large-scale disasters in a downtown subway station in Seoul and evaluates evacuation sufficiency.