Urbanization and Industrialization in Seoul, South Korea (from 1960s)


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Topic: Urbanization and Industrialization in Seoul, South Korea (from 1960s)
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Please use only the resources I have attached here. Please do not use any other resources. I would prefer using quotations instead of using references. Using references is okay, but you must include quotations from each reading material. You must use all four reading materials I have attached. There should be absolutely no grammatical mistakes. The paper should be in college level. The paragraphs should have very natural transitions. Just summarizing the readings is not okay. This paper should be an analytical paper.

Ik Ki Kim
Dongguk University
The socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area(SMA) has been one of the
most important causes of the rapid urbanization in Korea. On the other side, the population
concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area has been the cause of the accelerated economic
growth. The consistent growth of the population in Seoul, however, has resulted in many social
problems due to the over-urbanization. This may indicate that the policy of unequal
development focusing on the Seoul Metropolitan Area would be successful up to a certain
point. However, this kind of unequal development policy cannot continue unlimitedly. It should
be limited to a certain extent. Not the unlimited growth but the sustainable development should
be accomplished for the healthy future of a country.
Keywords: Korea, Urbanization, Socioeconomic concentration, Seoul Metropolitan Area
INTRODUCTION
Korea has traditionally been an agrarian society. Agriculture has taken the major share of
Korean industry until the 1960s. Agriculture took 50.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) during the period of 1953-1955 (Kim, I.K. 1987). Since 1960s, however, a rapid
economic growth has transformed the country from an agrarian nation into an industrial and
rapidly urbanizing nation. The share of agriculture in the GDP sharply declined from 45.2
percent for the period of 1960-62 to 29.5 percent for the period of 1970-72. It decreased by 15
percent in only ten years.
The rapid economic growth started at the beginning of the 1960s when Korean government
launched the first five-year economic development plan. Since then, the economic growth was
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul
Metropolitan Area and its Implications in the
Urbanization Process of Korea*
Korean Journal of Sociology | June 2010, Vol. 44, No. 3 | 111-128
* The author thanks the editor and anonymous reviewers of this journal for careful reading and valuable comments.
This paper was revised on the basis of their comments. Direct all correspondence to Ik Ki Kim, Institute of General
Studies, Dongguk University, 100-715, Pil-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea (Email: ikki@dongguk.edu; Phone: 8210-
3957-4547).
magnificent. During the period of the first five-year economic development plan, 1962-67, the
Gross National Product (GNP) grew at an annual rate of 7.0 percent (ESCAP. 1975). The GNP
growth for the next five-year economic plan was even higher, as with 11.4 percent.
The rapid growth of Korean economy was mainly due to the accelerated growth of the
industrial sector. The portion of the industrial sector in the GDP was only 10.6 percent for the
period of 1953-55. However, it increased to 35.2 percent for the period of 1970-72. In the
industry, mining and manufacturing sectors have taken the most important role in the
accelerated growth. During the period of 1953-55 to 1970-72, the share of mining and
manufacturing sectors in the GDP increased from 6.8 percent to 22.0 percent (Kim, I.K. 1987).
Throughout the 1960s, the Korean government’s economic policies were aimed at the
promotion of export-oriented industrialization through the support of labor-intensive
manufacturing enterprises. During the first and second five-year economic development plans
extending from 1962 to 1971, the Korean economy grew at an annual rate of slightly less than
10 percent. However, the growth of agriculture lagged compared to that of non-agricultural
sectors. For the same period, agriculture grew at an annual rate of 3.7 percent compared to 17.9
percent rate of growth in the mining and manufacturing sectors (Ban. 1977).
Accordingly, the relative income level of peasants dropped. Luther (1979) indicates that a
farm household earned about 71 percent of an urban household’s wage in 1962, but this figure
declined to 61 percent in 1970. This could be one of the many factors which brought about the
massive influx of rural peasants into big cities, especially into Seoul, the capital city of Korea.
Rapid urbanization concentrating on Seoul continued until the early 1990s. Since then, satellite
cities surrounding Seoul and industrial cities in the Seoul Metropolitan Area have grown much
faster.
Urbanization is a spatial representation of modernization and comes with various sociophysical
phenomena (Choi and Chang 2003). Urbanization in Korea has been very closely
related to the industrialization and economic growth. Since the 1960s Seoul has dominated the
urbanization scene in Korea. Internal migration was dominated by the centripetal movement of
population from all over the country towards Seoul. In accordance with the dominating role in
the urbanization, Seoul has carried out the core role in the economic growth on Korea. The
increase of the Gross Regional Product (GRP) of Seoul has been closely associated with that of
the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Korea.
This paper deals with the urbanization process in Korea in connection with the
industrialization and economic growth. First of all, this paper describes the demographic
transition in Korea. Then, this paper deals with the urbanization process in Korea and its
characteristics. This paper also illustrates socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul
Metropolitan Area since the 1960s. Finally, this paper indicates the contribution of the
socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area for the Korean economy and
suggests some implications in relation to the urbanization process of Korea.
112 Korean Journal of Sociology
DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION
Demographic transition is defined as changes in the fertility and mortality of a society as it
makes the transition from an agrarian state to an industrialized and urbanized state (Coale
1973). According to this definition, modernization brings about demographic transition; that is,
a reduction in both fertility and mortality. Thus, from the perspective of modernization, one of
the most important features of this demographic transition is to be able to forecast the
population trends of developing countries through the demographic model of developed
countries.
The rapid process of Korean demographic transition was facilitated by the interaction of a
national family planning program and rapid socio-economic development. The Korean
Government implemented both the national family planning program and the first five-year
economic development plan in 1962. The first five-year economic development plan was
carried out successfully and since then, the Korean Government has continuously adopted fiveyear
economic development plans.
During the period of 1955-60, Korean population grew at the rate of approximately 3
percent annually. After the beginning of the 1960s, South Korea experienced a major
population transition, from a rapidly growing population to a moderately growing one. The
annual growth rate of population has continually declined over time. The record high growth
rate of 3 percent in 1960 decreased to 2.2 percent in 1970, and then to 1.7 percent in 1975.
Despite the continuous decline of the growth rate, however, the population has consistently
increased and its density has worsened.
Now, let’s elaborate more specifically about the mortality and fertility transition in Korea.
Korea entered the first stage of mortality transition in the 1910s. The factors responsible for the
mortality decline were the prevention of infectious and contagious diseases and improvement
of environmental conditions and public health facilities (Lee 1980). Additional factors for the
mortality decline were the establishment of medical schools and medical facilities. Unlike in
the Western countries, however, the industrialization and urbanization stimulated by the
Japanese colonial government had little impact on the mortality at this time (Kim, I.K. 1987).
Korean War (1950-53) had great impact on Korean population, especially on mortality.
War casualties were estimated to be 1.6 million and the crude death rate sharply rose during
this period (Lee 1980). The crude death rate during the five-year period up to 1955 was record
high of 33 per thousand. The crude death rate for the period of 1955-60 declined to 16 per
thousand. Since then, the mortality level of Korean population has consistently decreased. In
accordance with the sharp decline of the death rate, the life expectancy at birth has
substantially increased over time. Life expectancy at birth for males increased from 48 years in
1955 to 57 years in 1970, 68 years in 1990, and then to 75 years in 2005. Life expectancy for
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 113
females increased at the same speed from 54 years in 1955 to 64 years in 1970, 76 years in
1990, and then to 82 years in 2005.
After 1960, the declining pattern of mortality in Korea has kept on, but the reduction rate
has been reduced. The gain from this time has been more attributable to the socioeconomic
development than to the introduction of medical technology which caused the mortality decline
during the previous years(Kim 1999). Additional important factors were the expansion of
health and medical services, both in public and private sectors. Another factor related is
declining fertility due to an increased adoption of family planning program and postponement
of marriage.
The fertility transition in Korea in its true meaning started in the mid-1960s (Kim, I.K.
1987). The crude birth rate sharply declined from 42 per thousand to 32 during the period of
1965-70. The reduction of the crude birth rate by 10 per thousand from the five year period is a
record high. The total fertility rate has also rapidly declined from 6.0 to 4.6 between the period
of 1960-65 and the period of 1965-70. Since then, the fertility levels have steadily declined
without interruption. During the period 1960-1985, both the fertility rate and mortality continued
to decline, and thus the population growth rate continuously decreased. This demographic
transition was affected by several socio-economic factors such as modernization, economic
development, urbanization, and the national family planning program (Kim, I.K. 2007). Since
1985, the fertility rate in Korea has dropped to below replacement level and the mortality rate
has remained stable with a slight decline. This process of demographic transition may be due to
factors such as sustained economic growth, the expansion of education, changes in lifestyle,
and the full-scale adoption of medical insurance (Kim D.S. 2003).
URBANIZATION PROCESS
During the period of demographic transition, Korea experienced a rapid urbanization process
as well. Table 1 illustrates the population growth of cities as well as the trend of the population
in Korea from 1960 to 2005. The total population of South Korea was 25 million in 1960, but it
has consistently increased over time. It increased to 31 million in 1970, 37 million in 1980, 43
million in 1990, and then to 47 million in 2005. The number of cities was only 27 in 1960, but
it also increased to 32 in 1970, 40 in 1980, 73 in 1990, and then to 79 in 2000.
The urban population in Korea was only 7.0 million with the urbanization rate of 28.0
percent in 1960. However, it increased to 16.8 million with the urbanization rate of 48.4
percent in 1975. Both the urban population and the urbanization rate have continuously
increased over time. The urban population increased to 32.3 million in 1990, and then to 38.5
million in 2005. The urbanization rate increased to 74.4 percent in 1990, and then to 81.5
percent in 2005. The growth rate of urban population has been unexpectedly high since 1960.
114 Korean Journal of Sociology
The growth rate of urban population for the previous five year period has been more 50 percent
during the period of 1960-1975. In accordance with the declining fertility since 1970, however,
the growth rate of the urban population has continuously decreased over time.
Table 2 shows the trends of the annual growth rate of urban and rural population in Korea
since 1960. The average annual growth rate of the Korean population for the 4 decades since
1960 was 1.5 percent. This table indicates that the urban population as well as the total
population has continuously increased but the speed of growth was much greater in the urban
population than in the rural population. In contrast to the rapid increase of the urban
population, the growth rate of the rural population has declined over time. During the period of
1966-1970, the growth rate of the rural population decreased to -1.6 percent from the previous
1.2 percent during the period of 1966-1970. As a result, for the first time in the recent history
of Korea, an absolute decrease in the size of the rural population was observed.
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 115
Table 1. Trends of Population growth in Korea, 1960-2005
Year
Total population Number of Urban population Urbani zation Growth rate of
(1,000) Cities (1,000) rate (%) urban pop (%)
1960 24,989 27 6,997 28.0 54.2
1966 29,160 32 9,780 33.5 57.4
1970 31,435 32 12,929 41.1 69.8
1975 34,679 35 16,770 48.4 52.0
1980 37,407 40 21,409 57.2 48.0
1985 40,420 50 26,418 65.4 42.0
1990 43,390 73 32,290 74.4 40.1
1995 44,554 73 34,992 78.5 16.1
2000 45,985 79 36,642 79.7 9.2
2005 47,279 79 38,515 81.5 5.1
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Housing and Population Census. Each year.
Table 2. Annual growth rate of urban and rural population in Korea (%), 1960-2000 (%)
Year Whole Urban population Rural population
1960-1966 2.6 5.7 1.2
1966-1970 1.4 6.8 -1.6
1970-1975 2.4 5.7 -0.3
1975-1980 1.5 5.0 -2.2
1980-1985 1.6 4.3 -2.6
1985-1990 1.4 4.1 -4.5
1990-1995 0.6 1.6 -2.9
1995-2000 0.7 1.0 -0.4
1960-2000 1.5 4.2 -1.6
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Housing and Population Census. Each year.
Table 3 shows the share of factors influencing the growth of urban population in Korea
from 1960 to 2000. The general factors which influence the growth of the urban population in
the process of urbanization are the natural increase of the urban population, net migration from
the rural areas, the enlargement of urban areas, and the construction of new cities. During the
period of 1960-1966, the urban population increased by 2.7 million. During the same period,
the most important factor influencing the growth of 2.7 million was the natural increase as of
42.1 percent, followed by the net migration (40.5 percent), enlargement of the urban area (9.3
percent) and the construction of new cities (8.0 percent). Except for the period of 1966-1970,
the most important factor which influenced the urban population in the process of urbanization
was the natural increase of the urban population. Nevertheless, the importance of the net
migration is about the same as that of the natural increase up to 1990.
In contrast to other periods, the share of the net migration influencing the growth of the
urban population during the period of 1966-1970 was exceptionally high, as of 73.2 percent.
This fact is significant in that the period of 1966-1970 was that of the second five-year
economic development plan. The net migration was totally from the rural areas. The loss of the
rural population between 1966 and 1970 due to the net migration amounted to slightly more
than 1.5 million. Such a heavy out-migration, especially of working age population, has
resulted not only in the rate of urban population growth but also in a higher dependency ratio in
the urban areas (Moon. 1978).
Another notable fact in the process of the urbanization is the construction of new satellite
cities around the established metropolis since 1975. The share of the construction of new cities
was especially important during the period of 1985-1990. The Korean government has begun
to construct new satellite cities around the metropolis because the government has been
concerned with the redistribution of the urban population due to the continuously rapid growth
of the urban population, especially in Seoul.
Table 4 indicates the trends of the population growth in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in
116 Korean Journal of Sociology
Table 3. Share of factors influencing the growth of urban population (%), 1960-2000 (Unit: 1,000 persons, %)
Year Total growth Natural increase Net migration Area enlarged New cities
1960-1966 2,709 42.1 40.6 9.3 8.0
1966-1970 3,223 26.8 73.2 0.0 0.0
1970-1975 3,842 47.2 45.1 2.5 5.2
1975-1980 4,638 45.7 39.7 4.1 10.5
1980-1985 5,506 44.4 36.8 1.3 17.4
1985-1990 5.866 36.3 27.0 6.2 30.4
1990-1995 2,727 72.8 7.0 1.3 19.0
1995-2000 1,719 62.2 12.9 0.0 24.9
Source | Korean National Statistics Office(KNSO). Statistical Yearbook. Each year.
Korea since 1960. The Seoul Metropolitan Area includes Seoul and the surrounding cities in
Gyeonggi province. In 1960, the population of Seoul was only 2.4 million, but it increased to
5.5 million in 1970, 8.4 million in 1980, and then to 10.6 million in 1990. The population of
Seoul has continuously increased up to 1990, and then it declined to 9.8 million in 2005. This
decline since 1990 is related to the redistribution of population due to the construction of new
satellite cities around Seoul. In contrast to the population of Seoul, that of Gyeonggi province
has consistently increased without interruption. The population of Gyeonggi province
increased from 2.7 million in 1960 to 4.9 million in 1980, and then to 12.9 million in 2005.
Accordingly, the population of the Seoul Metropolitan Area has also consistently increased
from 5.2 million in 1960 to 13.3 million in 1980, then to 22.7 million in 2000.
The share of the population of Seoul to the total population was only 9.8 percent in 1960.
As in the case of the trend of population growth, it increased up to 1990, and then gradually
decreased. On the other hand, the share of the population of Gyeonggi province has
consistently increased without interruption over time. In accordance with the increase of the
population share of Gyeonggi province, the share of the Seoul Metropolitan Area has also
persistently increased. The share increased from 20.8 percent in 1960 to 35.5 percent in 1980,
and then to 48.2 percent in 2000. As of 2005, 20.8 percent of the Korean people live in Seoul
and almost half of the Korean population lives in Seoul Metropolitan Area. The rapidly
increasing population in the Seoul Metropolitan Area greatly contributed to the growth of the
total population.
Table 5 shows the share of the population growth in the Seoul Metropolitan Area since
1960. The population of Seoul increased by 3.1 million during the period of 1960-1970. The
amount of the population increase for the past ten years has gradually lessened up to 1990, and
then it began to decrease since 1990. On the other hand, the amount of the increase in the
Gyeonggi population has consistently increased. During the period of 1960-1970, the
population of Gyeonggi province increased only by 0.6 million. But, it increased by 1.6 million
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 117
Table 4. Population growth in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in Korea, 1960-2005 (Unit: 1,000 persons; %)
Population/Share
1960 1970 1980 1990 1995 2000 2005
of population
Seoul 2,445 5,525 8,364 10,613 10,231 9,895 9,820
Gyeonggi 2,749 3,353 4,934 7,974 9,958 11,459 12,947
SMA 5,194 8,879 13,298 18,587 20,189 21,354 22,767
Entire country 24,989 31,434 37,436 43,411 44,609 46,136 47,279
% Seoul/total 9.8 17.6 22.3 24.4 22.9 21.5 20.8
% Gyeonggi/total 11.0 10.7 13.2 18.4 22.3 24.8 27.4
% SMA/total 20.8 28.2 35.5 42.8 45.3 46.3 48.2
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Housing and Population Census. Each year.
during the period of 1970-1980, 3.0 million during the period of 1980-1990, and then 3.5
million during the period of 1990-2000.
According to Table 5, Seoul took 47.8 percent of the increase of the Korean population
during the period of 1960-1970. However, Gyeonggi province took only 9.4 percent of the
increase of the total population during the same period. During the period of 1970-1980, Seoul
took 47.3 percent and Gyeonggi province took 26.3 percent of the increase of the total
population. Since 1960, the share of the population growth in Seoul has continuously declined
and it has shown the negative growth since 1990. In contrast to the population of Seoul, the
share in Gyeonggi province has consistently increased. It is striking that during the period of
1990-1995 the share of the population growth in Seoul was -31.9 percent, whereas that in
Gyeonggi province was 165.6 percent. During the same period, the overall share of the Seoul
Metropolitan Area over the total population growth was 133.7 percent. In the most recent
decade of 1990-2000, the share of the Seoul Metropolitan Area is reported to be 101.5 percent.
SOCIOECONOMIC CONCENTRATION IN SEOUL METROPOLITAN AREA
Korean society has experienced rapid social changes since the 1960s. As was shown in the
previous chapter, Korea has experienced consistently increasing urbanization process since the
1960s. Since the establishment of the first five-year economic development plan, Korean
economy has also tremendously increased over time. Since the initiation of the first five-year
economic development plan in 1962, Korean government has continuously employed a series
of economic development plans for more than 30 years.
In 1960, the GNP per capita was only 79 U.S. Dollars. Since then, the GNP per capita has
consistently increased up to 1997. The GNP per capita increased to 253 U.S. Dollars in 1970,
1597 Dollars in 1980, 5883 Dollars in 1990, and then to 10037 Dollars in 1995. In 1997,
118 Korean Journal of Sociology
Table 5. Share of population growth in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in Korea, 1960-2000 (Unit: 1,000 persons; %)
Pop growth/
1960-1970 1970-1980 1980-1990 1990-1995 1995-2000 1990-2000
Share of pop growth
Seoul 3,080 2,839 2,249 -382 -336 -718
Gyeonggi 605 1,580 3,040 1,984 1,501 3,485
SMA 3,685 4,419 5,289 1,602 1,165 2,767
Entire country 6,445 6,002 5,975 1,198 1,527 2,725
% Seoul/total 47.8 47.3 37.6 -31.9 -22.0 -26.3
% Gyeonggi/total 9.4 26.3 50.9 165.6 98.3 127.9
% SMA/total 57.2 73.6 88.5 133.7 76.3 101.5
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Housing and Population Census. Each year.
however, Korea suffered from a serious of financial crisis. At that time, Korean money was
devaluated half of the price. As a result, the GNP per capita in 1998 declined to 6744 Dollars.
Since then, Korean economy has gradually recovered from the financial crisis. In 2005, the
GNP per capita once again increased to 17531 Dollars.
The annual growth rate accelerated since the period of 1965-1970. During the period of
1965-1980, the annual growth rate has exceeded 25 percent. For the next five-year period, it
decreased somewhat but it rose again to 32.5 percent in 1990. During the financial crisis, it
substantially decreased. After the financial crisis, however, the annual growth rate of GNP per
capita recovered to almost 10 percent during the period of 1998-2002.
The unprecedented high economic growth in Korea was due to the growth of the industrial
sector in the early years of the economic development plans, and due to the growth of the
social services sector thereafter (Kim I.K., 2007). Before the initiation of the first five-year
economic development plan, more than half of the Korean people worked in the agricultural
sector. In 1960, the proportion of those who worked in the agricultural sector was 63.1 percent.
This proportion has consistently declined over time. It decreased to 49.9 percent in 1970, 17.9
percent in 1990, and then to 10.6 percent in 2000.
In contrast to the trend of the agricultural sector, both the proportion of the employers in the
industrial sector and that in the social services sector has increased over time. Nevertheless, the
trend of the industrial sector is different from that of the social services sector. The proportion
of the employers in the industrial sector has gradually increased up to 1990, and since then has
declined. The proportion in 1960 was 13.0 percent and it increased to 21.1 percent in 1970, and
then to 27.6 percent in 1990. In 2000, the proportion decreased to 20.4 percent.
One notable thing in the industrial sector is that the employers in the manufacturing sector
have composed the most part of the employment in the industrial sector since 1980. On the
other hand, the proportion of the employers in the social services sector has consistently
increased over time. The proportion increased from 1960 to 43.5 percent in 1980, 54.5 percent
in 1990, and then to 69.0 percent in 2000.
The population of Korea has been concentrated in Seoul and its surrounding satellite cities
during the urbanization process. The concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area was not
confined to the population. In accordance with the dominating role in the urbanization, the
Seoul Metropolitan Area has contributed to the substantial part of the economic growth in
Korea. The increase of the Gross Regional Product (GRP) of the Seoul Metropolitan Area has
been closely related to that of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Korea. Table 6 shows the
trends in the share of the GRP in Korea since 1968. In 1968, the proportion of the GRP in
Seoul was 26.5 percent and that of Gyeonggi province was only 9.4 percent. As a total, the
proportion of the GRP in the Seoul Metropolitan Area was 35.9 percent.
In the process of urbanization, the trend of GRP in Seoul has shown different pattern from
that in Gyeonggi province. The share of the GRP in Seoul increased only by 1.7 percent during
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 119
the period of 1968-1976, and after 1976 it decreased to 25.0 percent in 1985 and then to 20.9
percent in 2000. On the other hand, the proportion of the GRP in Gyeonggi province has
consistently increased since 1968. The proportion increased to 17.2 percent in 1985, 22.0
percent in 1995, and then to 27.1 percent in 2000. The share of the GRP in Seoul was much
grater than that of Gyeonggi province in 1968 but it is much less than that of Gyeonggi
province in 2000.
Since the 1960s, Seoul has dominated the urbanization scene in Korea. In accordance with
the dominating role in the urbanization, Seoul has played the core role in the economic growth
in Korea. Since the beginning of constructing the satellite cities around Seoul in the 1980s,
however, the role of Seoul in the economic growth has diminished. The satellite cities in
Gyeonggi province have begun to take the responsibility of the core role.
Overall, the share of the GRP in the Seoul Metropolitan Area has consistently increased
mainly due to the accelerated increase of the GRP in Gyeonggi province. The proportion
increased to 42.2 percent in 1985, 45.7 percent in 1995, and then to 48.0 percent in 2000. As of
2000, the proportion of the GRP in the Seoul Metropolitan Area is almost half of the GDP of
Korea.
During the period of 1986-1990, when the national economy was good, the annual growth
rates of the GRP in Seoul were higher than those in the GDP in Korea. Since then, when the
national economy was not so good, the annual growth rates of the GRP in Seoul were less than
those in the GDP in Korea (Wang, Y.K. 2004).
Although Seoul’s influence has diminished since the 1980s, Seoul is still playing the
important role in the socioeconomic growth of Korea. Table 7 shows the trends of the share of
selected socioeconomic items in Seoul since 1980. The share of Seoul’s population has
increased up to 1990 and since then decreased. Among the selected items, the proportions of
the number of manufacturing companies, bank savings, bank loans, number of medical
institutions, and number of general hospitals have consistently decreased since 1980. However,
the proportions of gross product and consumption of electricity have fluctuated.
In contrast to other items, the share of domestic taxes has somewhat increased since 1980.
The proportion of domestic taxes increased from 31.5 percent in 1980 to 38.2 percent in 1990,
and to 46.1 percent in 2000 and slightly decreased thereafter. The notable thing here is that the
proportions of bank-related items such as bank savings, bank loans and domestic taxes in Seoul
120 Korean Journal of Sociology
Table 6. Share of the GRP (gross regional product) in the Seoul Metropolitan Area (%), 1968-2000
Region 1968 1976 1985 1995 2000
Seoul 26.5 28.2 25.0 23.7 20.9
Gyeonggi 9.4 12.6 17.2 22.0 27.1
SMA 35.9 40.8 42.2 45.7 48.0
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Statistical Yearbook. Each year.
are still very high as of nearly 40 percent. This fact indicates that Seoul is still the center of the
financial affairs in Korea.
Since the 1990s demographic and socioeconomic concentration in Seoul has slightly
decreased but concentration in Kyeonggi Province has increased. As a result, the severity of the
concentration of the Seoul Metropolitan Area has not changed. The location of concentration
has just changed from Seoul to the Seoul Metropolitan Area. Table 8 indicates the share of
selected items in the Seoul Metropolitan Area as of 2001. The proportion of the space in Seoul
is only 0.6 percent and that of Seoul Metropolitan Area is 11.8 percent. However, the
proportions of selected items (use of gas, number of automobiles, telephones, medical
institutions and even car accidents) in the Seoul Metropolitan Area are over 40 percent.
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 121
Table 7. Trends of share of selected items in Seoul (%), 1980-2005
Items 1980 1990 2000 2005
Population 22.6 24.5 21.4 20.8
Gross product 28.5 27.0 21.7 24.0
Manufacturing companies 24.6 24.9 18.6 9.9
Domestic taxes 31.5 38.2 46.1 38.3
Bank savings 63.5 53.3 51.9 49.7
Bank loans 62.0 52.1 47.6 43.6
Consumption of electricity 18.3 17.0 13.1 21.0
Medical institutions 35.9 35.7 27.6 25.2
General hospitals 39.0 28.1 23.2 21.4
Medical doctors 40.6 40.9 23.5 34.0
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Statistical Yearbook. Each year.
Table 8. Share of selected items in the Seoul Metropolitan Area (%), 2001
Items Seoul Gyeonggi SMA
Space 0.6 11.2 11.8
Population 21.4 25.3 46.7
Use of gas 17.3 23.8 41.1
Number of automobiles 19.7 26.6 46.3
Number of telephones 25.9 21.9 47.8
Medical institutions 25.5 20.7 46.2
Car accidents 17.3 23.8 41.1
Source | Korean National Statistics Office (KNSO). Statistical Yearbook. Each year.
SOCIOECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS IN THE URBANIZATION PROCESS
As was mentioned in the previous chapter, Korea has experienced a very rapid urbanization
process as well as a tremendous economic growth since the 1960s. This chapter describes the
causes and the effects of such a rapid development. This chapter will also discuss the lessons
from the rapid processes of urbanization and economic growth in Korea. Then, this chapter will
provide some suggestions for the future development.
Korean government initiated the first five-year economic development plan in 1962, when
the GNP per capita in Korea was only 82 U.S. Dollars. The first five-year economic development
plan was very successful, as with the annual growth rate of 7 percent. Since then, Korean
government has established a series of five-year economic development plans. Korean
economy has consistently grown up to 1997, when Korea suffered from the financial crisis. At
the end of the 7th five-year economic development plan in 1996, the GNP per capita reached to
11,385 U.S. Dollars.
Wilson and Schulz (1978: 342) indicate that in Latin America and Asia the primate
metropolis may attract a huge number of migrants from primitive rural areas. Korea is not an
exception. Since the initiation of the first five-year economic development plan, the rapid
economic growth based on the state-led industrialization has spurred the migration of peasants
from rural areas to the Seoul Metropolitan Area. The growth rate of the urbanization in Korea,
however, has been much faster than those of other developing countries in the 1960s and
thereafter. It took four decades for Korea to catch up with the path of ‘Western type’
urbanization, which took about two centuries in the Western countries. For this reason, the
urbanization of Korea since the 1960s is called the ‘compressed urbanization’ (Choi and Chang
2003).
In most nations the primate city is also the political capital. In an age of international
politics, the fact that a city is a capital usually spurs urban growth (Wilson and Schulz 1978).
The most striking phenomenon in the rapid process of urbanization in Korea is the
socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area, which includes Seoul and the
surrounding satellite cities. The socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area
has been one of the most important causes of the rapid urbanization. On the other side, the
population concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area has been the cause of the accelerated
economic growth.
The socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area is the cause as well as the
effect of the tremendous economic growth in such a short period of time (Wang, Y.H. 2004).
Korea did not have sufficient resources and technology when the military government initiated
the first five-year economic development plan in 1962. The military government had a strong
will to carry out the rapid economic growth with powerful economic strategies. The models of
122 Korean Journal of Sociology
the first five-year economic development plan during the period of 1962-66 are as follows:
government-led industrialization model, export-oriented growth model, outward-oriented
growth model, manufacturing-centered growth model, and large corporations-led growth
model (Kim, I.K. 1990).
Without sufficient resources and technology, the most effective method of accomplishing
the planned economic growth was to concentrate socioeconomic resources and personnel in
Seoul, which has relatively well-developed infrastructures as a capital city. Compared to other
regions, Seoul was the best place for the government to employ the ‘unequal growth policy’
because Seoul has been the center of political and administrative functions as a capital city.
Most of the government offices were located in Seoul. Thus, most of the headquarters of
corporations had to stay in Seoul in order to have efficient connections with the governmental
officers. This was especially important because of the emphasis of the government-led
industrialization in the process of the rapid economic growth. Accordingly, Seoul has to be the
center of commercial and financial functions.
Seoul has many cultural heritages from the history of 600 years. Seoul also has been the
center of artistic activities. As a cultural and artistic center, Seoul brings so many people from
all over the world. In addition, Seoul could be the best place for the export-oriented business
because export corporations have easy access to the business-related connections in Seoul.
Thus, many foreign corporations have branches in Seoul and most of the foreign embassies are
located in Seoul. So, many international affairs and exchanges are made in Seoul. Seoul is
really the center of the international function.
One of other important factors which have brought about the rapid economic growth since
the 1960s is the elevated educational level of young people. The elevated educational level is
required for the development of technology. In the beginning of the five-year economic
development plans, the level of technology was very primitive. As the rapid economic growth
goes on, however, advanced technology was required to have the accelerated growth. Actually,
the elevated education in Korea has played a very important role in inducing the accelerated
growth of the economy. In this sense, the concentration of schools and students in Seoul at the
early years of the economic development plans was very effective in bringing about the growth
(Wang, Y.K. 2004).
During the period of the five-year economic development plans, not only the schools but
also the research institutions (public sector, university, and industrial research institutions)
were concentrated in the capital city. The concentration of both schools and institutions in the
capital cityhas been very effective in accelerating the growth because those institutions have
provided the skilled laborers who were required for the development.
In addition, the strong will of the military government for the fast economic growth and the
effective distribution of funds through the low interests of bank loans have helped to bring
about the rapid economic growth. In accomplishing these roles, Seoul was the best place. As a
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 123
center of the administration, Seoul was relatively well equipped with the necessary
socioeconomic infrastructures. In the early years of the economic development plans,
manufacturing industry has played the core role for the economic growth. As the advancement
of the economic growth, however, the importance of the social services sector has increased.
The success of the economy in Seoul has created a lot of jobs, thus has pulled the massive
influx of the young migrants from all over the country. The mass influx of the young
population in Seoul has helped the regional product of Seoul greatly increase in a short period
of time. On the other hand, the rapid increase of the young population who are mostly in the
age of childbearing greatly influenced the acceleration of the population growth in the capital
city. It has resulted in the over-urbanization. The over-urbanization has created a lot of social
problems such as population congestion, housing shortage, unemployment, and urban poverty
in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. It has also brought about the serious problems of air and water
pollution.
The problems due to the rapid industrial development are not confined to the urban areas.
Wilson and Schulz (1978) mention that primate cities attract more than their share of national
investments and tax monies and so high primacy within a country may inhibit economic and
social development of some areas because of the dominance of one city or series of cities. In
Korea an absolute decrease in the size of the rural population has been observed since 1966,
when the first five-year economic development plan successfully ended. Rural areas, while
having lost a lot of young population due to the mass migration had to suffer from the labor
shortage, especially during the busy seasons of agriculture.
The mass influx of the young migrants to the urban areas has thus resulted in the severe
problem of poverty in the rural areas as well. The problem of marriage squeeze for young
people has become another serious problem in the rural areas. In addition, the inability to take
care of the elderly population at home due to the lack of the young people is an incoming
serious social problem in the rural areas in the era of the aging society (Kim, I.K 1999; Kim,
I.K. et al. 1996 Kim and Choi 1992).
Massive out-migration of young people from the rural areas due to the industrialization and
urbanization has brought about different patterns of living arrangements of the elderly between
urban and rural settings in Korea (Kim, I. K 1998; Kim, I. K 2004). Modernization theory
hypothesizes that urban residence is negatively associated with the elderly living with children
(Martin 1989). In Korea, however, rural residence proved to be negatively associated with the
elderly living with children (Kim, I. K 2004).
According to a survey (Kim, I. K et al. 1997), patterns of the living arrangements of the
elderly are quite different in urban and rural areas. This survey indicates that the proportion of
the elderly living alone is 9.1 percent in the urban areas but 15.5 percent in the rural areas. The
proportion of the elderly living with spouse only is 29.2 percent in urban areas, whereas that is
48.7 percent in the rural areas. So, the proportion of the elderly living with any child is 61.7
124 Korean Journal of Sociology
percent in the urban areas, but that is only 35.8 percent in the rural areas.
Living arrangements are significant in terms of providing the support (financial, emotional,
and physical support) for the elderly and enabling them to participate fully in the daily
activities (Kim and Choi 1992). With respect to providing the support, living with married
children is especially important for the elderly. However, the proportion of the elderly living
without children has continuously increased due to the rapid socioeconomic transformation in
recent years, especially in the rural areas (Kim, I. K. 1998). This is a critical sign that the
tradition of the strong family support in Korea has been changing and that the strong tradition
of the support for the elderly family members could continuously weaken in the future. In
Korea, the family ties have traditionally been much stronger in the rural areas than in the urban
areas. In this context, the elderly in the rural areas are facing a crisis.
CONCLUSION
This paper dealt with the socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in the
urbanization process of Korea since the 1960s. This paper also discussed the implications of
socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in the urbanization process.
Korea has begun to experience the rapid transformation in urbanization and industrialization
since the 1960s. Due to the rapid processes of the urbanization and industrialization, Korean
economy has experienced tremendously fast growth. Both urbanization and industrialization
have reciprocally affected each other in the process of inducing the rapid economic growth.
The rapid economic growth initiated from a series of five-year economic development
plans had spurred the massive influx of the young migrants from the rural areas towards Seoul.
Since 1990, however, both the absolute population and the share of the population in Seoul
have begun to decline. This decline since 1990 is related to the redistribution of population due
to the construction of new satellite cities around Seoul. Due to the consistent increase of the
population of Seoul resulted in over-urbanization. Korean government has begun to employ a
series of population redistribution policies. So, Korean government has established new
satellite cities in Gyeonggi province since the 1980s. The population redistribution policies
have been partly successful in that the population of Seoul has begun to decline. Instead,
Gyeonggi province took a turn to take the rapid growth. Accordingly, the population share of
the Seoul Metropolitan Area has continuously increased over time. As of 2005, 20.8 percent of
the Korean people live in Seoul and almost half of the Korean population lives in the Seoul
Metropolitan Area.
Sine the 1960s, not only the population but also the socioeconomic factors has been
concentrated in Seoul and the surrounding satellite cities. In accordance with the rapid growth
of the population share, socioeconomic factors have been concentrated in the Seoul Metropolitan
Socioeconomic Concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and its Implication 125
Area. The most striking phenomenon in the rapid process of urbanization in Korea is the
socioeconomic concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. The socioeconomic
concentration in the Seoul Metropolitan Area has been one of the most important causes of the
rapid urbanization in Korea. On the other side, the population concentration in the Seoul
Metropolitan Area has been the cause of the accelerated economic growth.
In the early years of the five-year economic development plans in Korea, not only
population but also socioeconomic concentration in Seoul was required for the accelerated
growth. One of the characteristics for the five-year economic development plans was unequal
development focusing on the growth of Seoul as the Seoul Metropolitan Area. In this sense,
socioeconomic concentration in Seoul was somewhat successful. Seoul has led the
urbanization and the economic growth in Korea. However, the consistent growth of the
population in Seoul has resulted in many social problems due to the over-urbanization.
This may indicate that the policy of unequal development focusing on the Seoul
Metropolitan Area would be successful up to a certain point but this kind of unequal
development policy cannot continue unlimitedly. It should be limited to a certain extent. Not
the unlimited growth but the sustainable development should be accomplished for the healthy
future of a country (Harper, C.L 2003; Kim, I.K 2003). The relentless growth of the economy
should not be the ultimate goal of development in a country. The government should employ
the necessary policies for the sustainability, focusing not only the economy but also
distribution of wealth, healthy environment, and welfare for the people, etc.
126 Korean Journal of Sociology
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[Submitted March 3, 2010; Accepted June 1, 2010]

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