Great to see the publication of my chapter “Envisioned by the state: Entrepreneurial urbanism and the making of Songdo City, South Korea” in this new edited volume Mega-urbanization in the Global South: Fast Cities and New Urban Utopias of the Postcolonial State, edited by . In: Ayona Datta and Abdul Shaban. I look forward to receiving its printed copy.
For viewing the Word version and its download, please click here.
Below is an excerpt from the chapter’s introduction:
So much has been said about Songdo City in recent years in both academic and practitioner circles. International media has also taken part to inflate the reputation of Songdo City, hailed initially as an eco-city, then as a ubiquitous city (or U-city) and now a smart city (Shwayri, 2013; Shin, Park and Sonn, forthcoming; Kim, 2010). The New York Times went even further to dub it “Korea’s High-Tech Utopia” (O’Connell, 2005). Sometimes its own promotional material puts all these together and simply refers to Songdo as an eco-friendly ubiquitous smart city (IFEZ Authority, 2007). Governments elsewhere see Songdo as a reference for their own mega-projects to create a brand new city from the scratch (see El Telégrafo, 2012 for example on the construction of Yachay City in Ecuador). However, Songdo has come to cater exclusively for the needs of domestic and global investors as well as the rich who have financial resources to grab upmarket real estate properties. It may indeed be an urban utopia, built on a reclaimed tabula rasa and promoted by the state, merging together technological innovation, fixed assets investment, real estate speculation and financialisation, for exclusive use of the rich and the powerful.