New book chapter on the fallacy of Songdo (Smart) City, South Korea

9780415745512Great 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.



[Conference] Global Cities and Urban Studies: Korea in Comparative Perspective

Below is a call for papers forwarded upon request from the conference organiser. This may interest colleagues studying urban issues related to Korea. Please see below. Abstract submission by 5th May 2016.


Call for Papers

Global Cities and Urban Studies: Korea in Comparative Perspective

Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, 16-18 June 2016

Over half of the world’s population lives in cities and the need for academic research of the changing life in urban settings around the world is growing rapidly. The old metropolises are transforming into Global Cities, and are often assumed to be places for political development, sites of artistic and scientific creativity, and melting pots of ethnic and cultural diversity. Larger cities are competing to become attractive and dynamic centers of regions crossing national borders. The Asia Research Initiative (ARI) and the Department of International Relations (IR) at Central European University (CEU) are pleased to announce the conference ‘Global Cities and Urban studies: Korea in Comparative Perspective’. The event is hosted by Central European University and will take place in Budapest (Hungary) on 16-18 June 2016. The event is supported by Korea Foundation and is part of the KF Global E-school in Eurasia, a project aimed at developing a multi-university and multi-platform online real-time curriculum in Korean Studies. Central European University is the first European university to host a Global E-School, which brings together 20 universities in 14 countries in Europe and Asia.

Possible thematic areas to be covered during the conference include: Continue reading

젠트리피케이션 없는 세상 꿈꾸기 (Dreaming about a world without gentrification)

지난 해 10월부터 12월 사이 두 차례 한국을 방문하였고, 지내는 동안 젠트리피케이션을 화두로 많은 만남을 가졌습니다. 앞서 가졌던 고민의 깊이가 더욱 깊어졌고, 답답하고 아픈 현실에 마음 아팠지만 수 많은 실천의 몸짓을 통해 긍정의 에너지도 얻었습니다. 앞으로 해야할 일을 생각하며 신발끈을 다시 고쳐 맵니다. 아래 글은 희망제작소 ( 에 초청기고한 것 입니다. 희망제작소 웹페이지에 게시한 글은 다음 링크 참조하세요:

This is a short commentary contributed to an NGO based in Seoul, South Korea. I visited Seoul on two occasions between October and December 2015, had an opportunity to meet many people and organisations to talk about gentrification in Seoul, what damages it brings to people and neighbourhoods, and what we can do about it. It had been a very thought-provoking experience, with a lot to think about to make a difference in the future by working in solidarity with many who are already making a difference in their own place.


젠트리피케이션 없는 세상 꿈꾸기

신현방 (런던정경대 지리환경학과 부교수)

2015년 서울은 한국 젠트리피케이션 논쟁에서 의미있게 기억될 것입니다. 우선, 지자체가 젠트리피케이션으로 인한 임차상인의 피해를 줄이기 위해 적극적으로 개입을 시작한 해입니다. 9월 23일 성동구에서 ‘서울시 성동구 지역공동체 상호협력 및 지속가능발전구역 지정에 관한 조례’를 선포하였으며, 곧이어 두 달 뒤 11월 23일에는 서울시에서 성동구 조례를 참조하고 발전시켜 ‘젠트리피케이션을 막기 위한 종합대책’을 발표하였습니다. Continue reading

Gentrification Seminars in Seoul, 2-22 December 2015, Seoul National University

In December 2015, I will be leading a series of seminars in Seoul on gentrification. This is to take place at Asia Centre, Seoul National University once a week and starting on 2 December. Gentrification has recently become a social and politically hot topic in Seoul, having seen frequent media coverage from late last year and politicians producing various policy proposals in recent weeks to address displacement of original residents and in particular small businesses who are being driven away due to hiking rents. All those in Seoul and interested in the topic are welcome. Please be reminded that the sessions will be run in Korean though.

Below is the seminar poster and the seminar introduction in Korean along with the weekly programme and readings:

Gentrification-WinterSchool-Programme Gentrification_WinterSchool-Cover

SSK?아시아 ?시연구단 겨울학? 

젠트리피케?션 발전주? ?시? 위기 분?과 대안전? 

지난해부터 언론? 통해서 젠트리피케?션 용어가 빈번하게 언급?고 있습니다. ?미롭게? 최근 한 대중가수가 공중파 예능프로그램?서 ? 용어를 언급한 사실? 한국사회?서 젠트리피케?션 현?? ?드러지게 나타나고 있?? 보여주는 척?입니다. ?처럼 대중? ?? ??서 젠트리피케?션 현?? 대한 관심? 확산?고 있지만, 정작 현?? 대한 기본?? 정?나 학술?? 토론 ? 연구는 아? 제대 로 진행?지 못하면서 용어? 사용과 현?? 대한 ?해? 있어서 혼란? 빚고 있습니다. ?러한 ?황 ?서 전지구? 젠트리피케?션 논?를 소개하고, 우리 사회? 젠트리피케?션? 검토하기 위해 본 겨 울학?를 기?하였습니다.

본 프로그램? 네 번? 모임으로 ?루어진다. 첫 번째 모임?서는 LSE 신현방 ?수가 젠트리피케?션 ? 대한 개론? 소개 ? 앞으로? 세미나 방향? 짚어?니다. 전지구? 젠트리피케?션? ?향과 전? ??는 주제로 강?와 토론? 펼칠 예정입니다.
? 번째 모임부터는 본격?으로 참??들? 젠트리피케?션? 대한 해외최신연구들? ?고, 토론하는 리딩(reading) 세미나 방?입니다. ? 번째 모임?서는 현재 젠트리피케?션 논??서 국가별, ?시별, 지역별로 어떤 차?와 공통?? 있는지를 살펴본다. 세 번째 모임?서는 기존? 서구?시 중심? 연구 ? ??를 받아들?면서? 탈서구?? 시??서 아시아 ?시 사례들? 살펴봅니다. ??으로 네 번째 모 임?서는 실천?, 정책? 측면?서 젠트리피케?션? 대한 대안? 혹? 대항?? 실천과 방향? 논하 는 것으로 ?국? 사례를 살펴보고, 한국 젠트리피케?션? 대한 짧? 발표를 들? 예정입니다.

세미나? ??거리는 대부분 ?문논문들??서 ?반?들?게는 발제? 대한 부담? 있? 수 있지만, 세미나? 주제가 현실 ??과 매우 밀접하게 결부?어 있는 만? 발제는 연구?, 대학?? 중심으로 하면서 참?? ?? 넓히고? 합니다.

본 겨울학?를 기?한 SSK ?아시아 ?시 연구단? “발전주? ?시화??는 화?를 잡고서 어떻게 한 국? ?시?서 국가 주?? ?시화 과정? 진행?었고, 민주화, 세계화, 신?유주?화, 경제위기? ?면 하여 ?시가 변형?었는지를 연구하고 있습니다. ?러한 문제?? 위? ?번 겨울학?는 보다 정?롭 고 ?용?? 탈발전주? ?시화로 나아가는 경로를 실천?으로 모색하려는 시?입니다. ? 프로그램? 취지와 젠트리피케?션 논?? 관심 있는 분들? 많? 참여를 기다립니다.


Tel. 02-880-2869


Weekly Schedule and Reading List:

Week 1: Global Gentrifications. Lecture by Hyun Bang Shin (LSE)
2 December 2015, 3 pm (Room 303, Asia Center, SNU)

  • Smith, N. and Williams, P. (1986) Gentrification of the City. London: Unwind Hyman. Chapter by Neil Smith on “Gentrification, the frontier, and the restructuring of urban space?, and Chapter by Pete Marcuse on “Abandonment, gentrification, and displacement: the linkages in New York City?

Week 2: Gentrification from a Comparative Perspective
9 December 2015, 3 pm (Room 406, Asia Center, SNU)

  • Lees, L. (2012) The geography of gentrification: Thinking through comparative urbanism. 36(2): 155-171
  • Ley D. and Teo S.Y. (2014) Gentrification in Hong Kong? Epistemology vs. Ontology. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38(4): 1286-1303
  • Lees, L., Shin, H.B. and E. López-Morales. (2015) “Conclusion: global gentrifications? in Global Gentrifications: Uneven development and displacement. Policy Press. : 441-452.

Week 3: Gentrification outside the Global North
15 December 2015, 3 pm (Room 303, Asia Centre, SNU)

  • López-Morales E (2015) Gentrification in the global South. City 19(4): 564-73.
  • Ghertner A (2015) Why gentrification theory fails in ‘much of the world’. City 19(4): 552-63.
  • Shin, H.B. and Kim, S-H. (2015) The developmental state, speculative urbanisation and the politics of displacement in gentrifying Seoul. Urban Studies

Week 4Alternatives to Gentrification
22 December 2015, 3 pm (Room 303, Asia Center, SNU)


Chinese version of my paper on Displacement and Urban Redevelopment in Seoul

Back in 2008, I had a paper published in the journal, Environment and Urbanization. It discusses the effectiveness of public rental housing provision as compensation measures for tenants in substandard neighbourhoods which become subject to wholesale demolition and redevelopment. I argue in the paper that while the provision of public rental housing provision is a step forward for addressing housing problems of the urban poor, it cannot be all-encompassing solution, and that compensation needs to take into account the diverse socio-economic circumstances (including tenure preferences) of the urban poor.

Not too long after its publication, I had a chance to come across with a colleague who at the time was based in China, working on a number of urbanisation-related research projects. He thought the paper was useful for Chinese audience too and kindly arranged its translation into Chinese to be subsequently posted on a Chinese web site on urban governance. I post the Chinese version of the paper in this post. I express sincere thanks to the colleague who at the time was based in China. (My understanding was that he preferred to remain anonymous at the time, and I will contact him if he’s happy to be named here)

On a separate note, I notice that the Chinese web site has gone through some changes during the last few years. I still find the Chinese version of my paper on the web site (click here to view), but it does not mention my name as the author of the original paper. As there is no contact detail on the web site, I am not sure how to go about asking for corrections. Any tips and help in this matter would be much appreciated. Continue reading

2030세대와 한나?당 – 드림콘서트 기?? 보며

서울시장 선거 열?? 지나간지 며칠 채 지나지 않았는?, 재밌는 소?? 들린다. 안철수/박경철? 청춘콘서트, 문재?? ?콘서트 등? 시샘? 냈는지, 한나?당? 청춘콘서트? ‘드림콘서트’가 개최?다는 것?다 (기사 참조: 전국 순회를 하며, 드림멘토와 오피니언 리?를 초빙해서 젊? 대학?들 대?으로 한다는 것. 며칠전 서울시장 보?선거?서 20, 30, 40세대가 압??으로 통합야권 박?순 후보를 지지한 것? 보고 충격 받? 한나?당? 몸부림 같기? 하고, 선거 며칠 뒤 바로 기사 나오고 장소 섭외? 완료(?)? 것 보니, 미리 문제?? 갖고 있? 당내, 당외 ?사들 몇몇? 사전준비를 했? 것 같기? 하다. 한나?당 여??연구소?서 주최한다고 하니 나름 여권내?서 ‘바른 ?’하기로 유명한 정?언 ??? 추진하는 것 같기? 하다.

기사가 나오? 마? 트위터, 페? 등 온?? 여기저기서 소리가 들린다. 멘토로 선정? ?들? 대한 ?가와 실?? 나오고, ??으로서 얼마나 잘 ?겠? ?는 소리? 나오고. 하지만 내 ??으로는 드림콘서트가 ?었든, ?가 ?었든 한나?당?서 (?는 후? ?를 ?? ?? ‘한나?당’?서??) ?런 기?들? 제대로 했으면 한다. 멘토를 선정하??? 진정 ‘보수? 가치와 행?규범’? 지지하고, ?를 삶으로서 보여주는 사회?사를 선정, ?들? 본받으?고 젊??들?게 얘기하였으면 한다. 최소한 가진 ?? ‘노블리스 오블리제’를 실천하는 ?, 민족? 대한 무한 애정으로 친?청산? 입바른 소리 할 수 있는 ?사를 내세우고 ?를 논?하는 드림콘서트가 ?고, 당내/당외 뜻있는 ?사들? 한나?당? 문제?? 무엇?고 당? 개?하기 위해 ?런 보수? 가치를 지지하는 젊??들? ?입해서 보수진? 개?? ?력으로 삼았으면 한다.

현재? 한나?당? 보며 뜬금없? 중국 공산당? ??난다. 재작년 중국 어? ?시?서 현지 연구조사 활?? 하? 중 ?움? 주? 어? 중국 대학?과 중국 공산당? 대해 장시간 얘기할 기회가 있었다. 그 학?? 학사졸업? 앞?고 있었는? ?미 공산당? 가입했? 것으로 기억한다. 대략 당?수가 8000만명 정? ?다는 중국 공산당? 전?유?한 중국 대학?들?게? (모??? 아니겠지만) 선?? 대?? ?며, 공산당 가입? 여러 절차와 추천? 거? ?루어지는?, 그 학?? 중국 공산당? 관료주? ? ?부 부패 등 여러가지 문제?? ?기? 충분히 ??하고 있으며 ?를 고?야 할 것 ??고 한다. 중국 공산당? 중국? 발전? 기여할 것??는 것? 믿으며, 여기? ?기? 기여하고 싶다는 ??? 피력하면서. 문제는 ?런 비???과 당? 대한 충성? 얼마나 오래 유지?고 기층당?? 전반?으로 확산?? ??? ?는 앞으로 ?고 볼 ??다. 문제?? 많? 중국공산당? 발전? 미래는 ?런 젊?층들? 활약? 달려 있다고 ?? 무방할 것?다.

위? 얘기를 꺼낸 ?유는, 우리나??서 보수를 지향하는 사람들? 어? 정? 세력? 형성하고 있다면, 제대로 ? 보수정당? 출현하고 ?리매김하기 위해선 앞서 얘기한 중국? 어? 청년공산당? 처럼 당? 대한 비?과 문제??? 지닌 보수당?? 한나?당과 같? 보수정당? 확보해야 ? 것?며, 내부로터? 개?? ?루어야 할 것 ??는 ??다. 그리고 그 젊? 보수지지층? 멘토로서 삼? 수 있는 제대로 ? role model? 내세워 그들과 함께 묶? 수 있어야 할 것?다. 문제는, 과연 ?것? 가능하?는 것.

며칠 전 서울시장 보?선거?서 젊? 세대 중?서? 대략 2~30%가 한나?당 후보를 지지한 것으로 조사?었다. ?들? 무시할 수 없다면, ?들? 개?? 보수로 발전할 수 있?? 하는 것? 한국 진보정치? 발전? 위해서? 바람? 할 것?다. 고(故) 리?? 선?님께서 ‘새는 좌우? 날개로 난다’고 하셨는?, 한국?선 ‘좌’를 논하기엔 ‘우’ ?체가 너무? 수구화 ?어 있다. 한국?서 ‘좌’를 지지하는 사람들?? ?중고다. 진보정치? 뿌리를 내리기?? 여러가지 험난한 여정? 놓여 있는?, 제대로 ? 파트너 ‘우’가 없어 그 길? ?욱 가시밭길?다.

한국 보수? 발전? 결국 지난 선거?서 한나?당? 지지한 20~30세대가 얼마나 제대로 ? 보수로 성장할 수 있??? 달려 있? 것?다. 그리고 ?런 견?? 과연 현재? 수구보수세력? 할 수 있? 것??는 것? ? 다른 문제?다. 오히려 중??서 좌우로 요?치며 다소 ‘우’로 가 있는(?) ‘민주당’과 같? 정치세력? 분화하면서 정치지형? 재편?고 새로 ‘좌우’가 성립?면, 그 때 새로운 ‘우’가 ?들 젊? 보수를 ?어들?는 것? ? 한국? ‘좌’를 위한 길? ?지 않?까? 앞으로 ?고 볼 ??다.

1781 Globe at the Chateau de Versailles: G. de Coree (Sea of Korea)


How to name the sea between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese islands has been subject to disputes between the concerned governments for some time now. The Japanese government prefers it to be named as the Sea of Japan, and their international dominance during its imperial expansion period from the late 19th century led to the consolidation of this name in a number of historical archives. When the International Hydrographic Bureau (IHB) was established in 1921 (later re-named as the International Hydrographic Organisation), it published its first resolution on the “Limits of Oceans and Seas” that adopted the inclusion of Japan’s preferred name, Sea of Japan. Korea did not get a chance to voice out at this time and in subsequent years due to the country’s colonial occupation by the Japanese (1910-1945) and the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953). Continue reading

South Korea’s Gwangju uprising in 1980 and people’s protests in Egypt in 2011

Coming across with all the news reports about people’s protests against dictatorship in Egypt reminds me of South Korea’s own history of democratisation movements, which often ended in the bloodshed due to brutal suppression by the military, police or thugs.

One major uprising that still haunts people’s memory in South Korea is the violent oppression of people’s uprising in one of the southern provincial capital cities, Gwangju in Cholla South Province. In May 1980, ordinary people bravely stood up against the military government. In the course of this uprising, civilians were forced to arm themselves in order to defend them against military forces that repeatedly attempted to suppress them. For a brief period, the city was in an autonomous status, an urban commune that was governed by the people themselves with no real disorder and violence. Eventually, the city fell. More than 2,000 people were thought to have died or gone missing due to the military operation that ended on 27th May 1980. The operational code name for this military exercise that resulted in the massacre was ‘splendid holiday’.

Owing to the severe military containment of the city at that time, much of the national population were not aware of what was really going on in that part of the country. Reports were repeating government accusations that communists were behind these protests, and no exact details of military action were delivered. For many years, talking about Gwangju uprising was a taboo. One of the causes that drew university students towards student movement was knowing the truth about Gwangju uprising. Some rare video footage could be found on these YouTube links:

Gwangju massacre (Part 1)

Gwangju massacre (Part 2)

Gwangju massacre (Part 3)

In 1987, another big round of people’s uprising took place in Seoul, which led to the concession by the military government that agreed on a direct presidential election. Although this did not led to the change in power due to the division within the opposition leaders at that time, one of the key factors that led to this concession was the non-intervention by the military force at that time. Military actions in the form of coup d’etat no longer took place since 1980. I suppose there were too many risks involved for the military to intervene, now that they had witnessed escalating protests and discontents and that the whole world was carefully following the development of democratisation movements in places like Seoul. Perhaps, Seoul’s status as the host city of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games was another reason for such world-wide attention, making it even more difficult for the dictatorship to make any wrong moves.

Civil uprising in June 1987

Now that I see the series of protests in Egypt, my only hope is that the military does not intervene and let the people decide the course of history.

Total incompetence of Lee administration in South Korea fails to contain the spread of foot and mouth disease

I still remember the pig that was being taken away from my grandmother’s house when it was sold to a butcher. This was when I was a very small child probably before schooling age. It was a big pig, at least in the eyes of a small child. Several adults had to wrestle with the pig, pulling the rope that was securely tied around its neck and legs, in order to tow him towards the vehicle that was to carry him to the slaughterhouse. Somehow, the pig knew about its destiny, I think, as it was resisting the men with all his might, crying out as loud as it could. It was a shocking, horrible scene.

In South Korea, as of now, horrible acts of killing pig and cattle stock are being carried out on a daily basis. The Lee administration in South Korea is showing total incompetence in containing the ‘foot-and-mouth’ disease, which broke out in November 2010. The Lee administration failed to take any significant actions in its early days of outbreak. Now it’s killing animals en masse. One of the most recent reports here: It is reported that more than 2 million pigs and cows have been killed since its outbreak, many of them being buried alive. Yes, alive! Continue reading

FWD: 뉴타운 재개발? 중단하?

?전? 참여정부?서 근무하시다 지금? 세종대학??서 재?하고 계시는 김수현?수께서 경?대 정? ?수와 함께 작성하신 ‘격문’ 입니다. 무한 펌? 권장하시니 주변 분들?게? 전달하시어 ?리 ?혔으면 하는 마?? 전달해 드립니다. 문서 바로 보기 – 여기를 ?릭하세요

제 연구 분야 역시 ?시재?, 재개발? 정치학, 저소?층 주민 삶 등? ?함?어 있는?요, 현재 ?아시아 ?국?서 진행?는 재개발 정책? 한결같? 부?산 ?본? ?윤 극대화, ?? 정부 보장 (?는 주?)가 밑바탕? 깔려 있는 듯 합니다. Capital ?는 Expertise 와 같? ??? 빈약하여 정책 ?향력? 미미한 ?시 서민? ?러한 개발 과정?서 소외?는 모습? ?아시아 여러 ?시?서 공통?으로 발견합니다…