Seoul Urban Solutions Agency

Seoul's Journey


Seoul’s Journey


Seoul’s Journey from the Ruins in the 1950s to a Smart Metropolis

The city of Seoul had grown rapidly from the ashes in the aftermaths of the Korean War in the 1950s. Six decades after, Seoul continues to evolve into a livable, high-tech yet green and smart metropolis: Seoul is now a model city full of urban development best practices. Learnings accumulated from Seoul’s trial-and-error and know-how from years of overcoming urban challenges are the city’s assets.

Transformation of Seoul’s urban development trajectory

Source : Seoul Institute

Urban foundation (1960 ~ 1980)

Seoul built urban infrastructure to accommodate the increase in population with the focus on financial plan, water management, and stream and river clean-up.
Main Urban Development Plans: Gangnam development plan (1970), Yeouido development plan (1971)
Main projects: Cheonggyecheon cover-up (1966), Cheonggye Expressway construction (1967), Han River bridges (Yanghwa: 1966, Hannam: 1969), Waste disposal plant (1972), subway line 1 (1974)

Growing city (1980 ~ 2000)

Seoul continued to build infrastructure for the growing population and improve downtown environment.
Main Urban Development Plans: Han River comprehensive development projects (1982), development of apartment complexes, Han River sewage management (1987), construction of 180,000 residences (1989)
Main projects: Subway line 2, 3, 4 (1984 ~ 1985), separate garbage collection (1992), Bus card (1996)

Smart & sustainable city (2000 ~ present)

Transfer to software-centered policy to facilitate increased quality of life for the city dwellers and visitors alike.
Main projects: Cheonggyecheon restoration (2004), public transportation system reformation (2004), online civil service offer (2000), subway screen door (2006 ~ present)

Seoul’s Urban Planning

Seoul has been the capital of the Korean peninsula for over 600 years, making it a city with rich history, heritage and culture while surrounding itself with nature’s beauty. The city’s identity was severely hurt during the three and half decades of colonial rule (1910~1945) and its physical features completely ruined through the Korean War (1950~1953). Sixty years after, Seoul has developed into a city that many cities want to model after.

Seoul developed with the economic growth of Korea, and was instrumental in supporting the growth. From a city that facilitated industrial development to a city that champions quality of life for its citizens, Seoul has travelled far, making it one of most livable cities despite the high level of density.  

Key Features of Seoul’s Urban Planning

The Next 100 Years


  • Side-effects from rapid growths
  • Stagnant economic growth
  • Reverse pyramid population growth
  • Increase in youth unemployment      

Seoul Urban Planning Brochure