Chapter 4: Urban Issues in the Capital Region and South Korea
4. Urban issues in the Capital Region and South Korea Myung-Jin Jun INTRODUCTION South Korea went through economic hardship after the Korean War and has sustained rapid economic and social development over the last 50 years. Driven by a long era of export-oriented industrialization, Korea’s GDP per capita rose from subsistence levels (comparable with Sri Lanka in the 1950s) to advanced economy levels by the 2000s. In 2004, Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and currently is the world’s eleventh largest economy. Along with an admirable record of economic growth, Korea, and especially Seoul, has dealt with serious economic and social challenges such as housing shortages, congestion and environmental pollution. Among many urban challenges and issues facing Korea, this chapter addresses three major ones: spatial transformation and regional disparities, housing, and congestion and mobile emissions. More specifically, the first topic addresses four subjects: (i) urbanization trends and changes in urban hierarchy; (ii) the Capital Region’s concentration in terms of population and other socioeconomic variables; (iii) changes in migration patterns and migration’s contributions to the Capital Region’s population growth; and (iv) suburbanization patterns in the Capital Region. The discussion of housing focuses on three issues: (i) the analysis of Korean housing market characteristics such as housing supply rate, changes in housing prices and unsold housing units; (ii) changes in housing types and tenure of urban and rural residents; and (iii) the housing problems of low-income groups and the foreign population. As for transportation, I focus on two topics:...
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