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A Study on the Actual Status and Improvement Plan of the Special Zone Policy in Seoul

Seung-Hyun MinㆍMook-Han KimㆍJi-Hye YangㆍHye-Jin Cho(former)


This study covers the general situation of the designated special zones nationwide and the 10 special zones designated and operated in Seoul. Among these special zones, 4 zones, mainly aimed for industry promotion, are chosen for in-depth analysis. The contents of the study are related to the overall condition of the special zone system, and they include the promotion plan of the regional special development zone, changes in the local conditions after the special zone designation, operation and the of special zone, application of special regulation, satisfaction degree of special zone system, and so forth. On the basis of the above mentioned contents, the limitations and problems of the regional special development zones are derived, and suggestions for improvement and policy suggestions are given.

Through analyzing the actual state of operation of the present special zone, detailed limitations and problems are derived from the following three perspectives:

The first perspective is about designation and use of the special zone, and there are three limitations: lack of coordination with high-level plans and related plans; lack of follow-up management of special regulations related to land use; and lack of exceptional adjustment of special regulations under the National Land Planning Act.

Specialized business and operation of the special zone constitute the second perspective. The issues are as follows: lack of diversity in effectiveness of the special regulation and designation type; difficulty in continuous financing; and lack of continuous support to private enterprises.

The third perspective includes the maintenance and management of special zones and the related participants. Derived problems are lack of communication between the participants, limitations in continuous operation of special regulations and related business management, and limitations in evaluation and performance reporting.

Each of the above challenges and limitations has to be improved in the mid- to long-term in order to achieve the original purpose of promoting regional competitiveness and regional economic revitalization. In order to do so, this study suggests direction the following direction:

With respect to the first perspective mentioned above, it is necessary to designate special zones and to reinforce post-management procedures. The details are as follows: mandatory review of consistency with upper and related surrounding plans and establishment of a consultation system; reinforcement of requirements for post-surveillance and dismissal of special regulations on land use; provision of additional procedures and special measures for compromising regulations, deliberations and decisions under the National Land Planning Act; and separation of the special regulations and exceptional regulations for urban management

With respect to the second perspective, it is necessary to strengthen the support for the operation of special zones and the promotion of specialized projects. The details are as follows: activation of private proposals and diversification of types for ensuring effectiveness of special exceptions; diversification of related entities for continuous business promotion and financial resources; and strengthening the continuous support function for private operators

With respect to the third perspective, it is necessary to maintain the special zone continuously and to strengthen the cooperation system. The details should include strengthening the communication and cooperation system among the related participants, establishing a monitoring system for continuous management of special regulations and special project management, and strengthening professional review and support for evaluation and performance reporting.

Looking at the current situation in the low-growth era, it is expected that the application for the designation of special zones will continue to increase not only in the Seoul metropolitan area but also in the whole country, in order to revitalize the local economy along with regeneration of declining cities. The following policy directions are suggested as ways to improve the special zones:

First, the Small and Medium Business Administration(SMBA) and the related central administrative agencies should strengthen the demand survey on the policy direction to be established in the future to continuously identify and reinforce special regulations.

Second, specialists in various fields such as city planning, economy, and social fields should establish a cooperative network system, and they should also establish a dedicated department in the local government to promote consultation function.

Third, the SMBA, the ministries of the central government, and the municipalities should coordinate with each other to find ways to provide financial support based on the type and size of each special zone.

Fourth, at the central government level, it is necessary to form a task-force team including public officials and experts to strategically elaborate and improve the policies related to the special zones.

In Seoul, it is necessary to conduct continuous monitoring and related research on the current special zones together with the Seoul Institute or the borough governments, and establish measures to promote activation of the region where the project has not progressed enough or the target for the new designation will be located.

Finally, in the metropolitan municipalities including the city of Seoul, the ‘Regional Specialized Development Special Zone Activation Committee (tentative name)’, in which the public, experts, residents and other stakeholders participate, needs to be established to designate, operate and manage special zones.




01 Introduction

1_Background and Purpose of the Study

2_Research Scope and Method


02 Literature Review and Related Planning System

1_Review of Prior Research

2_Related System Status


03 Special Zone Policy and Operation Status

1_Application and Operational Procedures of the Special Zone

2_Stakeholder Structure of the Special Zone

3_Special Regulations on the Special Zone

4_Operation Status of the Special Zones Nationwide


04 Special Zone Operation Status in Seoul

1_Oriental Medicine Industry Special Zone

2_Gangnam Cheongdam·Apgugeong Fashion Special Zone

3_Eunpyeong K-culture Experience Special Zone

4_Gangseo Miracle-medi Special Zone

5_Other Special Zones in Seoul


05 Survey and Interview Results regarding Special Zones in Seoul

1_Introduction of the Survey and Interview

2_General Information and Location Pros and Cons of the Special Zones

3_Awareness and Change before and after Designation of the Special Zone

4_Opinions on Support and Operation of the Special Zone

5_Opinions on the Major Businesses in Each Special Zone

6_Opinions on the Need for Special Regulations to Foster Related Businesses by Special Zone

7_Results and Implications from the Staff Interview


06 Overseas Case Studies

1_System and Policy Status of the Special Zone in Japan

2_System and Policy Status of the Special Zone in the US

3_System and Policy Status of the Special Zone in Singapore

4_Implications from the Case Study and Conclusion


07 Limitations and Challenges of Actual Conditions of the Special Zones in Seoul

1_Limitations and Tasks in Procedures

2_Limitations and Tasks in City Management


08 Policy Suggestions for the Development of the Special Zone in Seoul

1_Principle and Direction of the Improvement

2_Strengthening the Process of Designating and Managing the Special Zone

3_Strengthening Support to the Special Zone Management and Specialized Business Promotion

4_Continuously Retaining Special Zone and Tightening Cooperation System

5_Suggestions for Future Policy Directions