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Changing Socio-Economic Environments, Housing Culture and New Urban Segregation in Seoul

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The paper focuses on the recent transformation of the urban housing culture in South Korea through a geographical analysis of Seoulite apartment complexes (ap'at'ŭu tanji). The paper first analyses the changes in housing policy and the housing production system since the late 1970s, which have long been oriented mainly towards the middle and upper-middle classes. Not only have the lower-income classes been excluded from this new apartment culture, it also seems that the housing situation testifies to the partial failure of the so-called filtering process (in which the benefits of development are purported to spread through society from top to bottom). The paper then analyses the post-Asian crisis transformation of the housing environment in the city, where housing redevelopment projects are concentrated in highly speculative areas (Kangnam) and new forms of luxury condominium apartments (such as the Acroville complex) are appearing. At the same time, older apartment complexes are faced with more and more maintenance problems as well as with the constant pressure to reduce management fees. As in many world metropolises, emerging 'gated communities' and increasing social spatial segregations seem to characterise the housing culture and geography of Seoul today.

Affiliations: 1: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales;, Email:


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