OECD Urban Policy Reviews

2306-9341 (online)
2306-9333 (print)
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OECD Urban Policy Reviews provide a comprehensive assessment of a country’s urban policies as seen through multiple lenses, including economic, social and environmental. First, the reviews focus on the policies designed and introduced by the central government that directly address urban development and regional development policies with an urban development focus. Second, the reviews analyse how national spatial planning for urban regions, along with specific sectoral policies, impact urban development, directly and indirectly. Often, public policies are designed to target sectoral objectives with little or no regard for their profound impact on urban areas, and the means available to implement policies at the local level. Third, the reviews address issues of governance, including inter-governmental fiscal relationships and the various institutional, fiscal and policy tools aimed at fostering co-ordinated urban development among different levels of government and different administrations at the central level. For example, reducing the fragmentation among urban governance structures can help enhance effectiveness and outcomes in public service delivery and other policy areas. From country to country, the OECD Urban Policy Reviews follow a consistent methodology that features cross-national comparisons and recommendations on the integration of sectoral policies into urban development policy, planning and management.

OECD Urban Policy Reviews, Korea 2012

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27 Apr 2012
9789264174153 (PDF) ;9789264174146(print)

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This Urban Policy Review of Korea  assesses Korea’s approach to sustainable urban development as expressed in its recent urban policy reform and national green growth agenda. The government has responded to the economic, environmental and social challenges that have resulted from Korea’s rapid urbanisation process with, on the one hand, urban policy reform based on qualitative urban management and urban competitiveness and, on the other hand, the adoption of a National Strategy for Green Growth that emphasises the role of cities in achieving stronger environmental and economic outcomes. The Review proposes a series of recommendations designed to advance Korea’s sustainable urban policy approach, which include (i) developing a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to urban development that is tailored to the different needs of urban areas, (ii) closing the gaps between expected and actual outcomes in urban planning, (iii) maximising economic efficiency in the building and transportation sectors and (iv) improving policy co-ordination across public agencies.   
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  • Foreword

    Urban issues have emerged as key features on national policy agendas. The importance of cities and their corresponding metropolitan areas to the national economy makes them key players in the international marketplace. This in turn leads governments to renew their support to cities. At a time of increasing globalisation and international competition for investment, urban regions have become the target of a wide range of public interventions. Throughout OECD member countries these policies encompass plans to solve traditional urban problems – urban sprawl, abandoned districts, and poverty – and newer issues such as competitiveness strategy, city marketing, environmental sustainability, and innovation.

  • Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Assessment and Recommendations

    Korea has proven itself to be one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, despite few natural resources and constant demographic pressures within a relatively small territory. Highly compressed economic growth since the 1960s propelled Korea to bring its per capita GDP to the level of developed countries. This strong economic performance has been supported by economic development strategies that have successfully evolved over time to adapt to changing priorities and global conditions. Total GDP was approximately USD 1 344 billion in 2008 (converted to Korean University of Technology PPP), while estimated national income per capita was about USD 27 000 in PPP in 2009, slightly below the OECD average. Korea has also consistently shown resilience to recent economic shocks, including the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2009 global economic crisis. It has been one of the first OECD countries to show signs of recovery from the most recent crisis, thanks to the implementation of a large fiscal stimulus package composed of additional public expenditures (3.2% of GDP) and tax cuts. However, a high level of household debt, exceeding 150% of household income, the heavy dependence of domestic consumption on imports, relatively low levels of labour productivity, and an ageing workforce have been identified as potential threats to Korea’s continued economic success.

  • Trends and Challenges in Korea's Urban Structure

    This chapter examines urbanisation trends and addresses the issues and main challenges facing urban areas in Korea. It considers different definitions of urban areas in Korea and applies a methodology to identify groups of urban areas based on their functionality, rather than on administrative boundaries. An analysis of economic performance trends in urban areas reveals the leading economic role of large cities and medium-sized cities. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the challenges facing Korean urban policy makers in the years ahead, including an ageing population and shrinking labour force, unprecedented resource consumption, environmental pressures and climate change.

  • National Policies for Urban Development in Korea

    This chapter analyses Korean urban policy and provides recommendations to address urban policy challenges. The chapter begins with a brief examination of the trajectory of urban policy in Korea, which shifted from a polarised growth pole strategy in the 1960s into promoting strategies emphasising qualitative urban management and urban competitiveness. Four policy priorities are recommendations for strengthening the co-ordination and coherence of Korean urban policy: i) address the current policy fragmentation across ministries and among local governments through a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach to urban development and increased co-operation among sub-national administrations; ii) adapt urban policy to future demographic trends, such as ageing and an increasing immigrant population; iii) advance a more tailored urban policy to address the different needs of Korean cities; and iv) close the gaps between expected and actual outcomes in urban planning, through more widespread use of urban modelling and greater ex post evaluation and monitoring.

  • The Korean Green Growth Strategy and its Implementation in Urban Areas

    This chapter focuses on the contributions of sub-national governments to Korea’s National Strategy for Green Growth and identifies the main challenges for its effective implementation at the local level. The first section examines the role of urban areas in advancing the green growth agenda in Korea. The second section addresses key challenges to the implementation of green growth policies at the urban scale and proposes a series of recommendations for strengthening implementation, with a focus on policy instruments to green the urban transportation and building sectors and a set of governance challenges to advancing an urban green growth agenda.

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