2040 Seoul Plan: Strategic Direction and Citizen Engagement

Calendar 25 November 2019
Time 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm. Registration from 3.00pm, seated by 3.30pm 
Location MND Auditorium, MND Annex A, 5 Maxwell Road Singapore 069110
cpd2 BOA-SIA CPD Pts, 2 SIP CPD Pts, 1 PEB PDU Pts, 2 SILA CPD Pts

Seats are available on a first come, first served basis. Please be seated 10 minutes before lecture begins, after which we will open the venue to walk-in guests.


Lecture Poster (PDF: 109 KB)
Lecture Slides (PDF: 11 MB)

Lecture Video and Photos

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In 2014, the Seoul Metropolitan Government launched the 2030 Seoul Plan, a master plan for the development of the South Korean capital. This plan, like earlier master plans, set the spatial and strategic direction for the city in the years ahead, with a commitment to goals such as industrial growth, sustainability, heritage, and connectivity. It also articulated a move to reorganise Seoul into a multi-centric city. The 2030 Plan, finalised in 2015, has been also been notable for involving citizens at all stages of the planning process. In 2019, the Seoul Government launched an effort to update the Seoul Plan. This 2040 Seoul Plan process aims to build on the 2030 plan, addressing urban problems and issues such as traffic systems, air quality and arresting thoughtless development.


Dr Kim Inhee, Senior Research Fellow at the Seoul Institute’s Department of Urban Planning and Design, was the key researcher involved in the creation of the 2030 Plan and is playing the same role in the 2040 Plan. In this lecture, Dr Kim will be sharing on the key features of the 2030 and 2040 Plans, covering issues such as the strategic goals of each plan, arrangements for involving citizens in the planning process, as well as the statutory and administrative processes involved.


Lecture Report

“In the last seven years, we have had a lot of experience with citizen participation. Of course, there are side effects (such as lengthening the policy and planning process), but another effect was that the quality and culture of citizen discussions was much improved.”


Placing citizens at the centre of urban planning has strengthened Seoul’s planning processes and civic culture, said Dr Inhee Kim during a CLC lecture in November. The key researcher behind the creation of the 2030 Seoul Plan shared insights that the South Korean capital has learnt from years of involving citizens in all stages of the process of creating a masterplan.


The Plan was launched in 2014 after planners in Seoul had previously focused on local government administration, large-scale urban development and regeneration projects as well as strengthening the city’s global economic competitiveness. While these improved Seoul’s economy and physical condition, they did not necessarily improve the everyday lives of citizens.


“They began to protest against public projects, and it was difficult for public projects to (be realised) … and the people were not happy,” explained Dr Kim.


He added that although Seoul ranked sixth in the Institute for Urban Strategies’ Global Power City Index in 2012, it was only 75th in a quality of life index. Moreover, the city found it challenging to carry out plans that were previously made by around 30 experts from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Institute.


“Although (earlier) plans were powerful, they were nicknamed ‘cabinet plans’ because nobody used them. The plans were difficult (to implement), (created) by specialists and we didn’t know which policy had priority,” said Dr Kim.


For the 2030 Seoul Plan, citizen committees aided by expert advisors were established to formulate a vision for the city of nearly 10 million people. They also had a say in deciding key urban issues and strategies. Although it lengthened the planning process, the result was surprisingly a higher quality master plan that could be implemented more effectively.


“It took a long time to make a vision; it took one year. But the effect was that everyone began to be interested in the Seoul plan, and that was the first success,” said Dr Kim, who is also a senior research fellow at Seoul Institute’s Department of Urban Planning and Design Research.


After the citizens’ vision was accepted by the mayor of Seoul, other cities in South Korea were jolted to kickstart similar efforts. The Seoul government has also gone on to introduce participatory budgeting and shifted towards more citizen-centric urban regeneration projects.


Since the 2030 master plan was finalised in 2015, Seoul has become a more walkable city, particularly in its historic core. There is also an increase in green spaces, a more robust public transport system and more transparency and fairness in urban development projects.


The participation process has also enhanced Seoul’s civic culture. Citizens feel empowered to seek consensus when conflicts arise and their concerns have widened from local interests to social issues. For instance, the citizens prioritised the establishment of shared services and facilities because of the increase in single-person households. It reflects their vision of Seoul becoming a more inclusive city.


“They started to talk about values in addition to the hardware improvements of urban development, and we reflected those expressions and ideas into the 2040 master plan,” said Dr Kim.


In 2019, the Seoul government sought to update its master plan for 2040. After evaluating the efficacy and limitations of its 2030 process, it realised that the while the advantages of citizen engagement are apparent, the city also needs to take care of its longer-term needs. It is now pushing for closer collaboration between public sector specialists and the citizens, as well as drawing in officers from the city’s districts. There is also an attempt to break silos between the government’s administrative departments, and promote cooperation between them and local districts. The participation process has also been refined and widened to include citizens from Seoul’s outlying areas and disadvantaged groups.


“In the last 10 years, we have concentrated too much on small, short-term and daily life projects,” explained Dr Kim. “But Seoul is a megacity with 10 million people, and we need also the global competitiveness and sustainability for the next generation. We need balanced policies between short-term and long-term, that’s the next test.”


This lecture report first appeared in Better Cities December 2019.


About the Speakers

lecture-report-2019-11-2040 Seoul Plan-Inhee Kim

Dr Inhee Kim

Senior Research Fellow
Department of Urban Planning and Design Research
Seoul Institute

Dr Inhee Kim is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Urban Planning and Design Research at the Seoul Institute, Republic of Korea. At the Institute, Dr Kim has conducted several urban planning and research projects, including on issues such as urban regeneration, metropolitan development and housing. Dr Kim is the key researcher for the 2040 Seoul Plan, a role he also played in the 2030 Seoul Plan. Dr Kim earned a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany, in 2003; and worked for Urban Plan GmbH in Berlin for 10 years before joining the Seoul Institute in 2004.

lecture-report-2019-11-2040 Seoul Plan-Michael Koh

Michael Koh
Executive Fellow
Centre for Liveable Cities

Mr Michael Koh has 25 years of experience in the public service including 7 years as CEO of the National Heritage Board and 4 years concurrently as CEO of the National Art Gallery. He was also the former Director of Urban Planning & Design at the Urban Redevelopment Authority where he spearheaded the planning and urban design of the new mixed use Downtown at Marina Bay, revitalisation of Orchard Road as a shopping street and creation of an arts and entertainment district at Bras Basah Bugis.


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