Seoul Institute Logo

You are here


Diagnosis and Improvement Direction of the Town Management of Seoul

Seoyeon Yoon · Seulyi Lee

After the rapid development of Seoul, the need for “Place Management” is emerging while people’s “original favorite places” have declined, and “new favorite places” have appeared, and these aspects are rising more rapidly in the digital era. Not only that, large-scale commercial facilities have entered various parts of Seoul, which lead trends for places. The private sectors, which operate large-scale commercial spaces, are leading the way by operating a regional management system that encompasses the surrounding area to increase the value of their assets, and the COEX area is a representative example.

The public (administrative) is also aware of the need for “Place Management”, and since 2016, the city of Seoul has been developing a private-sector-led governance project to improve and to revitalize the old town of the city. Since then, the city of Seoul has introduced a public-led regional management system, so-called “Integrated District Management in the Downtown Area” and “Town Management of Seoul.” Starting with the Da-dong and Mugyo-dong project in 2017, the city has expanded a total of five pilot projects: the Myeong-dong; the Seocho Music and Culture; the Yeouido Financial, and the Guro G-Valley. To this end, in this study, the improvement direction of Town Management of Seoul was derived by examining case studies and diagnosing the current status of the pilot projects.

As a result of examining BID in the United States, TCM and BID in the United Kingdom, and TMO and AM in Japan as case studies, all of which are promoted by local stakeholders through voluntary participation and consultation to solve regional problems, and which are accompanied by administrative financial and institutional support. Regional Management is an institutional device and public-private cooperation system that can establish mutual understanding of the benefits and effects among local actors, such as rising property value of landowners, increasing incomes of merchants, improving corporate image, elaborating the environment for workers and residents. In particular, the most important element of the Regional Management System is the plan to secure financial resources, which is different for each country.

As a result of diagnosing the Town Management of Seoul projects compared to the case studies, the pilot projects are completely dependent on administrative budget and operation of general experts rather than spontaneity through the formation of a common understanding and consensus of local stakeholders. The operation of the Regional Management System requires the local stakeholders to have corresponding needs and understanding, and goals, and the authority to allow the local stakeholders to perform the role voluntarily. Thus, this study suggests that the Town Management of Seoul project should improve the existing business management system in the future, and proposes a step-by-step role design and a framework that can enable all participants including public, private and experts, to understand the system.

The framework comprises the basic research and planning stage (1st stage) → plan establishment and selection stage (2nd stage) → operation / management execution stage (3rd stage) → monitoring stage (4th stage). Cooperation and complementation are necessary while maintaining independence among stakeholders. Then, in response to global location competition, this study proposes three types of venues for diversifying Regional Management in Seoul. The first type is “Public-led Pilot Project Improvement Type” which will be selected based on the judgment of sustainability, and the second type is “Private-led Promotion Support Type” which already has a private-sector movement. The third type is “the Downtown Competitiveness Enhancement Type” that can be linked with ongoing maintenance projects and development projects.

At this point in Korea, including Seoul, there is no legal basis for Regional Management, and consensus among stakeholders is insufficient. Performance-oriented one-time projects should be avoided, and various trials and errors should be acknowledged as a stage under a long-term plan, to discover and to institutionalize a Regional Management Model that suits Seoul.