Spending Seoul’s money on a much larger plan

SEOUL, South Korea — After two years of planning, a consortium of tech companies and consultants unveiled plans Monday for a “10-minute city” — and its landmark district, “Joy City,” is far more ambitious…

Spending Seoul’s money on a much larger plan

SEOUL, South Korea — After two years of planning, a consortium of tech companies and consultants unveiled plans Monday for a “10-minute city” — and its landmark district, “Joy City,” is far more ambitious than the average city planning exercise.

The third attempt at a planning blueprint for Seoul, the new district is an up-scale version of the River District proposed in 2005 and then abandoned in favor of a drawing of a banded peninsula amid sea basins on the outskirts of the city. The river district was relatively inexpensive compared with the Gangneung Plan, which is centered on the 2020 Olympic Games site.

And, like the River District, the new “Joy City” vision is partly aimed at an international audience, with most of the technology to be deployed in the district manufactured in Korea.

The 10-minute city plan — the city of 20,000 envisioned is for current 25-minute time slots and 10-minute blocks — already has fierce opposition from people who say it will make life in Seoul more unbearable, including those in the heart of the city, in the southeastern Yeongdeungpo area.

But some people in Yeongdeungpo, including those who would be invited into the new city, are enthusiastic about the plans. “When you hear about this plan, you should not think it is just a piece of paper,” said an official of a company involved in the project.

And, this official insisted, the fact that the citywide telecom, railway and subway projects — while trying to sort out the messy intersection of city and national boundaries — would focus more on the needs of the “young people” of the city means they would in most cases be better integrated into the planned district.

Early findings of the project found that currently two-thirds of Seoulites do not live in 10-minute districts. That suggests many people were not interested in moving to Joy City.

The consortium of companies and consultants hopes to demonstrate how Seoul “goes beyond urban planning.” Its website warns of “shocks,” and describes the district as “nearly invisible.” The group defines the Joy City area as a mostly pedestrian area around 2,092 buses lanes and subway stops that are looped with recreational facilities and commercial activity.

For the “young people” of the city, the group proposed that the envisioned Joy City include quality art and cinema facilities and shopping, with openings into the riverside, with cherry blossom festival locations envisioned.

For tourists visiting Korea, the district would include museums, floating platforms and ferries. The group also estimates the district would attract the “suicide population,” including “plastics,” floating, and that the district would become a magnet for organized crime, or kimchi trafficking and gangsterism.

“Korean cities should move on from traditionally structured planning and begin to think outside the box — new ways of planning are needed,” the group said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lee Carlson at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Margaret Wheeler Johnson at [email protected]

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