Inter-Korea summit meeting and the peace process in the Korean peninsula #KoreaSummit #USNorthKorea

Upon the request of the LSE media team, I had a chance to elaborate on my own thoughts regarding the recent Inter-Korea summit meeting on 27 April, and also the role of the US. The series of videos were released on 30 April, and what I said then still seems to be relevant to the forthcoming North Korea-US summit meeting that is about to go ahead on 12 June. Here are the links to the interview clips:

LSE Thinks | Why have the leaders of North and South Korea started negotiations?

LSE Thinks | What has been the role of the US in peace negotiations between North and South Korea?

Below is a written version of what I have tried to say in this series of video interviews.

  1. What has brought about this ‘renewed’ enthusiasm for negotiations between the two Koreas and the US?

It is important to understand how these negotiations have historically developed. The popular discourse seems to regard the current negotiation as very new. However, the two Koreas already had two summit meetings, once in 2000 between President Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jeong-il, the father of the current leader of North Korea, and again in 2007 between President Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Jeong-il.

While peaceful negotiations were already in place more than a decade ago, the process stopped during the last ten years between 2008 and 2017 when the two successive conservative governments of South Korea were reluctant to promote inter-Korea cooperation and at times hostile towards peaceful engagement.

The candle light revolution in South Korea in 2016 and 2017, praised by the world as the example of democracy, has led to the change of government, led by President Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer turned politician. And, the new South Korean government has been committing to the peaceful engagement with North Korea, and to mediating the relationship between North Korea and the US.

It is also important to highlight the fact that the general population in South Korea has been largely in support of peaceful negotiation with North Korea to resolve the military confrontation. Surveys indicate that a large majority of the South Korean population supported talks with North Korea rather than military resolution. This was despite the missile threats from the north and the development of nuclear programmes. The South Korean government and President Moon Jae-in’s firm position for ‘no war on the peninsular’ was strongly supported by the public opinion.

  1. What will be the implications of the negotiations for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula?

I think both Koreas are quite serious about the need of producing peaceful co-existence for the survival and development of North Korea. In particular, it is important to understand that the 2018 inter-Korea summit meeting took place within less than a year of South Korean president’s terms of office. And, he has another four years before his presidency comes to an end. There is ample momentum that can build up to produce positive outcomes. Denuclearisation is not just about demobilising North Korea’s nuclear programme. It is also about ending the military confrontation between South and North Koreas, who are technically at war, only suspended by the armistice signed in 1953 between North Korea and the United Nations force led by the US. Ending the war and signing a peace treaty has been the stated aim of both Korean governments, and I think there is a very good chance this is going to happen, now that all regional powers are expected to agree to this transition.

  1. What will be the implications of the negotiations for the people in the peninsula and the economy of the Korean peninsula?

All regional economies, and by extension the global economy, will definitely gain a lot from the anticipated transition from armistice to peace treaty. At the moment, nearly two million armed soldiers are confronting each other on the peninsular as of now, excluding the US force stationed in South Korea. The regional insecurity and uncertainty will reduce substantially, triggering more investment to arrive in the peninsula. South Korea has been struggling to create a new momentum for economic development, and the opening of the North Korean economy will provide the new avenue of economic growth. North Korea would emerge as an attractive destination for global investors.

It is also not just about the investment. There will be additional resources to be secured by reduced military spending. According to the World Bank data, in 2016, South Korea’s military expenditure amounted to 2.6% of its GDP, higher than the average for the world (2.2%) or for East Asia and the Pacific region (1.7%). This is equivalent to 10.4% of the South Korean central government expenditure (World, 8.1%). We do not have data for North Korea, but the ratio would certainly be much higher. Imagine the reduction of military spending that can be released for investment in social and physical infrastructure.

Obviously, there is much to learn from the neighbouring country, China, and from former East Germany, in terms of how to transform a planned economy into a market economy. The key concern is more about how the North Korean economic reform would proceed without widening social discrimination, economic injustice and regional inequalities. Overcoming the political and ideological differences is another big challenge. A peace treaty would provide time and space for this challenging process to be initiated.

Short essay: The Geographies of Gentrification in East Asia, contributed to the IIAS Newsletter Vol.79, 2018

The International Institute for Asian Studies based in Leiden, the Netherlands, publishes The Newsletter three times a year to report on current affairs in Asia and connect academics with wider audience. The news from Northeast Asia in the Spring 2018 edition covers gentrification in East Asian cities, and features four pieces as below. My piece provided an overview of the geographies of gentrification in the region, while three other pieces contributed by Yoshihiro Fujitsuka, Seon Young Lee and Qinran Yang discuss each country case. It was pleasure to work with the section editor, Ilhong Ko, to put the contributors together to make this happen.

News from Northeast Asia, The Newsletter Vol.79, Spring 2018
(direct link:

Editorial: Gentrification in East Asian cities by Ilhong Ko
Read more

The geographies of gentrification in East Asia by Hyun Bang Shin
Read more

Deregulation policy and gentrification in Chuo Ward, Tokyo by Yoshihiro Fujitsuka
Read more

Resisting gentrification in South Korea by Seon Young Lee
Read more

State, global urbanism, and gentrification in Chengdu by Qinran Yang
Read more

SNU Institute of East Asian Urban Research 서울대 SSK 동아시아 도시사업단

I have been part of this exciting research group since 2014 as part of the research project “Crisis and Transformation of East Asian Cities in the Age of Globalization” (In Korean: “세계화 시대 , 동아시아 도시의 위기와 전환”) funded by the Social Sciences Korea programme (2014-2017), National Research Foundation of Korea.

The project aims to “provide a more concrete understanding of Cold War developmental urbanization, the SSK Research Project on East Asian Cities attempts to explain the urbanization of South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China in terms of three elements that define the character of East Asian urban­ization: compression, exceptionality, and risk.” To see a brief summary of the project in English, click here.

The team’s Korean web site has been revamped recently to include a fuller list of team members and what they do. Click here to visit the staff page and find out their profiles.

제가 2014년부터 함께 하고 있는 서울대 SSK 동아시아 도시사업단의 웹페이지가 새롭게 단장을 마치고, 특히 프로젝트 참여 연구원들의 프로필을 새롭게 추가하였습니다. 자세한 내용은 해당 웹페이지를 참조하세요. 동아시아 도시사업단은 “세계화 시대, 동아시아 도시의 위기와 전환”이라는 SSK 중형 프로젝트를 수행하고 있으며, 2014-2017년 기간 동안 이라는 주제로 ‘압축공간, 예외공간, 위험경관’ 세 주제에 대한 연구를 진행하고 있습니다.

SSK 동아시아  도시연구단

SSK 동아시아 도시연구단

EARCAG Conference Session, Dec 2016: Speculative Urbanisation and Resistant Politics in East Asia

Session Organiser:

  • Laam Hae (York University, Canada)
  • Hyun Bang Shin (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK)

Please reach the organiser at or if you are interested to present in this session.

In the Western literature, post-industrialisation and global financialisation are identified as a main driver of the rise of property-based urban accumulation, resulting in speculation in the real estate sector. However, in East Asia, land and housing have been subject to rampant speculation during the last three decades of urbanisation and city-making, and not necessarily a result of post-industrialisation, although the region’s declining profitability of manufacturing industries would have contributed to the further rise of real estate speculation that guaranteed high returns on ‘investment’ (Haila, 1999, 2000; Shin; 2016; Shin and Kim, 2016). While East Asian real estate speculation can be understood broadly as social, economic and spatial manifestation of developmental urbanisation, it is also important to acknowledge unevenness in the ways in which such speculation has taken place among different countries in the region. That is, speculation over the urban built environment has been an embedded process in each country, moored in contexts and histories of local politics, economies and societies and expressed in locally specific ways.

In this regard, this session aims to bring together papers that can engage with the following (and other related) questions.

  • How has speculative urbanisation been unfolding in East Asian cities in locally specific ways?
  • What does speculative urbanisation signify in the changing political economy and emerging (re)formations of social structure including class, gender/race relations in each country?
  • How is the process of real estate speculation fraught with dispossession of people’s rights and displacement of the un/propertied?
  • In what ways have various mechanisms of social reproduction been shaped by the unfolding speculation?

We particularly welcome papers that discuss the transformative potential of various resistant politics that have emerged against speculative urbanisation in East Asia.

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

SSK동아시아 도시연구단 겨울학교 

젠트리피케이션 발전주의 도시의 위기 분석과 대안적 전망 

지난해부터 언론을 통해서 젠트리피케이션 용어가 빈번하게 언급되고 있습니다.  대중의 일상 속에서 젠트리피케이션 현상에 대한 관심이 확산되고 있지만, 정작 현상에 대한 기본적인 정의나 학술적인 토론 및 연구는 아직 제대로 진행되지 못하면서 용어의 사용과 현상에 대한 이해에 있어서 혼란을 빚고 있습니다. 이러한 상황에서 전지구적 젠트리피케이션 논의를 소개하고, 우리 사회의 젠트리피케이션을 검토하기 위해 본 겨울학교를 기획하였습니다.
본 프로그램은 네 번의 모임으로 이루어질 예정입니다. 첫 번째 모임에서는 LSE 신현방 교수가 젠트리피케이션에 대한 개론적 소개 및 앞으로의 세미나 방향을 짚어줍니다. 전지구적 젠트리피케이션의 동향과 전망이라는 주제로 강의와 토론을 펼칠 예정입니다.
두 번째 모임부터는 본격적으로 참석자들이 젠트리피케이션에 대한 해외최신연구들을 읽고, 토론하는 리딩(reading) 세미나 방식입니다. 두 번째 모임에서는 현재 젠트리피케이션 논의에서 국가별, 도시별, 지역별로 어떤 차이와 공통점이 있는지를 살펴봅니다. 세 번째 모임에서는 기존의 서구도시 중심의 연구의 의의를 받아들이면서도 탈서구적인 시각에서 아시아 도시 사례들을 살펴봅니다. 끝으로 네 번째 모임에서는 실천적, 정책적 측면에서 젠트리피케이션에 대한 대안적 혹은 대항적인 실천과 방향을 논하는 것으로 영국의 사례를 살펴보고, 한국 젠트리피케이션에 대한 짧은 발표를 들을 예정입니다.

본 겨울학교를 기획한 SSK 동아시아 도시 연구단은 “발전주의 도시화”라는 화두를 잡고서 어떻게 한국의 도시에서 국가 주도의 도시화 과정이 진행되었고, 민주화, 세계화, 신자유주의화, 경제위기에 직면하여 도시가 변형되었는지를 연구하고 있습니다. 이러한 문제의식 위에 이번 겨울학교는 보다 정의롭고 포용적인 탈발전주의 도시화로 나아가는 경로를 실천적으로 모색하려는 시도입니다. 이 프로그램의 취지와 젠트리피케이션 논의에 관심 있는 분들의 많은 참여를 기다립니다.

문의. Tel. 02-880-2869. Email.

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)

CFP RC21 2015: (Re-)making Cities: the politics of scale in mega-projects in Asia and beyond

With apologies for any cross-posting,

Call for Abstracts

RC21 International Conference on The Ideal City: Between Myth and Reality

27-29 August 2015  |  Urbino, Italy


(Re-)making Cities: the politics of scale in mega-projects in Asia and beyond

STREAM F – Urban renewal

The globalisation of Asian economies has accompanied the emergence of urban real estate development, a key characteristic of late capitalism, as one of the main pillars of their economic expansion. The result has been speculative urbanisation, driven by desires of individual and/or corporate investors, central and/or local state elites, and domestic and/or transnational businesses. Their collective interests are reflected in the proliferation of state-led mega-projects to install iconic landmark buildings, new towns, and new CBDs in and outside existing urban centres, the experiences of which have been also increasingly inter-referenced within Asia.

In order to understand the above-mentioned processes of city (re-)making, it is important to overcome state-centric perspectives and adopt a relational approach that pays attention to inter-scalar dynamics and the politics of scale. For instance, the domination of Asian developmental states does not necessarily mean that the developmental ethos and visions, held in a particular period and space, had been uniform across factions in the state and capital. Such ethos and visions that led to the production of new towns and special zones of development would have been subject to geopolitical as well as domestic struggles.

This stream aims to scrutinise how the aspirations of Asian developmental states have been reflected in the course of (re-)making cities, and, at the same time, contested by non-state actors, civic organisations and local resents at various geographical scales. It invites contributions that critically examine why and how particular interests were represented, how they mobilised mega-projects and shaped cities ultimately in their own imagination, what roles local communities, nascent advocacy groups or popular struggles played in contesting the state-led mega-projects. Papers that attempt to compare the Asian experiences with those elsewhere are also welcomed.

Organizers: Hyun Bang Shin (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK); Bae-Gyoon Park (Seoul National University, KR); Dong-Wan Gimm (Seoul National University, KR).


Deadline January 31 2015

Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to and to the session organizers. Please consult the conference web site for more details.

Book Review [In Korean]: Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia by Bae-Gyoon Park, Richard Child Hill and Asato Saito

My fourth book review for the  Korean daily newspaper KyungHyang Daily. This time, I have selected <Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia> by Bae-Gyoon Park, Richard Child Hill and Asato Saito. Published on 24 May 2013.

2013년 5월 24일 게재된 네번째 경향신문 [해외 책] 서평.

동아시아에서 신자유주의 찾기
Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia: Neoliberalizing Spaces in Developmental States

140519279820세기 중후반 세계경제는 특이한 현상을 목도한다. 저개발국가 대부분이 경제성장을 못 이루고 빈곤에 허덕일 때 아시아의 일부 국가는 산업화, 도시화 및 수출주도형 경제를 달성하며 경제성장의 기적을 이룬 것이다. 일본의 전후 복구를 설명하기 위한 분석틀로 등장했던 개발주의 국가론은 한국, 대만, 홍콩, 싱가포르 등으로 대변되는 ‘아시아 네 마리 용’의 경제 신화 분석에도 적용되었다. 반면 2차 대전 직후 잉태되어 1970년 오일 파동 이후 본격적으로 전파된 신자유주의는 개발주의 담론에 입각하여 동아시아 경제에도 큰 영향을 미치었다. 한국의 지리학자 박배균, 미국의 사회학자 리처드 차일드 힐, 일본의 지리학자 아사토 사이토 세 명이 편저한 <동아시아에서 신자유주의 찾기>(Locating Neoliberalism in East Asia)는 동아시아에 대한 신자유주의 영향력을 고찰하며, 특히 도시 및 지역정책을 중심으로 일본, 한국, 대만, 홍콩, 싱가포르, 말레이시아, 태국 사례를 다룬다.

동아시아에서 발현한 개발주의는 국가주도형 경제가 성장의 동력이 된다는 이데올로기로서 중앙 계획, 공공부문 확장 및 개발 계획 추진 등을 통한 국가경제 발전을 목표로 한다. 한편 신자유주의는 사적소유 및 시장 경쟁을 통해 자유로운 개인의 이익 실현 추구가 사회 부의 증대를 가져온다는 이데올로기로서, 국가에 의한 시장 개입을 최소화하려 한다. 하지만 이러한 경제질서를 재편하기 위해 오히려 국가의 역할은 증대하는데, 이는 통치제도의 정비, 공권력 확대, 공공질서 구현 및 법 체제 정비와 같은 규제 정책의 실시를 통해 드러난다.

이 책에서의 주된 문제의식은 개발주의가 세계화에 따라 신자유주의로 대체되었다고 단순하게 이해하기보다는 이 둘이 상호작용에 따라 어떻게 발전적 관계를 형성하는지에 맞춰 있다.
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