Regional and Urban Policy and Planning on the Korean Peninsula
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Regional and Urban Policy and Planning on the Korean Peninsula

Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Harry W. Richardson

The potential for reunification of the two Koreas, whether in the short or long term, argues for a comprehensive look at policy and planning issues that encompass the peninsula as a whole. This book deals with spatial policy issues in both South and North Korea in a broad and non-political way.
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Chapter 3: Demography and Urbanization

Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Harry W. Richardson


Chang-Hee Christine Bae and Harry W. Richardson South Korea is a country that is the epitome of the core dominating the periphery. Although Seoul City has experienced a modest population decline in the last decade, the share of the Seoul Metropolitan Area (SMA) in the national population remains very high, at 49 per cent. Despite, until very recently, a very insular resistance to cultural globalization, economic globalization has had a major impact on Korea; indeed, globalization was the key campaign and governing platform of President Kim Young-Sam between 1990 and 1996. FERTILITY DECLINE The future of urban and regional planning and of national economic development in South Korea may depend heavily on its prospective population decline. This issue makes a strategy for the reunification of the two Koreas quite critical because of the large low-wage labour supply in the North. The authoritarian regime, the poor human rights record, famines with many associated deaths, and militarism (large numbers of troops and the ruthless pursuit of nuclear weaponry) are recurrent characteristics of North Korea. Nevertheless, these should not deter the South from following a path that is clearly in its long-term self interest, although possibly at the expense of short-term material success. The sharp contrast between South and North Korea provides a useful backcloth to this discussion. Almost by accident, South Korea has benefited from globalization. Decades of an export-oriented economy (originally based on the symbolism of ‘The miracle of the Han river’), a very highly educated society, per capita income levels...

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