Seoul - 4.1 Population Growth and Expansion of the Urban Center
|Understanding Korea Series No.4|
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|3) Expansion of Gyeongseong’s Urban Area||1) Population Growth and Expansion of the Urban Center||2) Redevelopment of Gangbuk’s Original Urban Center|
Gyeongseongbu was renamed the City of Seoul with the Liberation of Korea in 1945. In 1946 Seoul was separated from the jurisdiction of Gyeonggido province and was named Seoul Special Free City, and in 1949 Seoul attained the status of Seoul Special City. The population of Seoul was 900,000 in 1945, but in 1949 the population drastically increased to 1,440,000. Many Korean nationals who used to work overseas during the Japanese Colonial Period came back, and a lot of laborers around the country came to look for work. In order to accommodate the rapidly increasing population, the new government expanded the city proper (136 square kilometers to 268.35 square kilometers) to a size that was 7.5 times larger than Hanseongbu during the Joseon Dynasty.
|Year||Total Population||Seoul (Gyeongseong)||Gyeonggido Province|
|Population||Ratio (%)||Population||Ratio (%)|
|Japanese Colonial Period||1925||19,523,000||342,000||1.8||1,676,000||8.6|
|Republic of Korea||1949||20,189,000||1,446,000||7.2||2,741,000||13.6|
The land readjustment project started before the Liberation and continued even after the Liberation in order to accommodate the rapidly increasing population. The urban sprawling process even further accelerated when the Economic Development Plan was launched in 1962, but the government lacked the funds to secure housing. In turn the government developed 17 districts with a total of 58,850,000 square meters of land as urban areas through the Land Compartmentalization and Rearrangement Project, which helped minimize the government’s burden. These urban development areas were situated within 5 to 15 kilometers in diameter of the urban center Seoul.
Seoul was plagued by political turmoil and suffered the consequences from the destruction of the war during the period after the Liberation until the 1960s; however, it emerged as a modern city from the ashes between the 1960s and 1970s. During the 1960s when the First and Second Five-Year Economic Development Plans (1962 to 1971) were in full swing, Seoul experienced rapid industrialization and urbanization, and the concentration of population in Seoul intensified in the late 1960s as the achievements of the economic development became more prominent. The population of Seoul was 2,445,000 in 1960; in 1970 it more than doubled to 5,336,000. The city proper also expanded in 1963 (from 268.35 square kilometers to 613.04 square kilometers) and again in 1973 (from 613. 04 square kilometers to 627.06 square kilometers). This expansion of the city proper meant that the boundary of the city expanded from the four inner mountains to the four outer mountains. During the Joseon period the city used to be divided into the north section and the south section by Cheonggyecheon; now the city has to be halved by the Han River into Gangbuk (north of the river) and Gangnam (south of the river).
In 1980, when the city was in the middle of an active urbanization process, the population of Seoul was 8,367,000 and reached its peak in 1990 at 10,628,000. The population of Seoul increased at an explosive rate for 45 years after the Liberation. Before the Liberation most of the citizens resided in Gangbuk, but from the 1960s the population in Gangnam started to rise. In 1961 87% of the people lived in Gangbuk and only 13 % lived in Gangnam, which meant more importance was placed on Gangbuk. But the weight shifted gradually toward Gangnam: in 1975 69% lived in Gangbuk and 31% lived in Gangnam, and in 1980 60 % lived in Gangbuk and 40% in Gangnam.