February 5, 2018

10 Sustainable Urban Planning Ideas and Achievements in South Korea that address issues beyond Climate Change.

a selection of remarkable eco-friendly efforts put forth to combat global climate change.

Seoullo, the Korean name for Skygarden translates to ‘towards Seoul’ and ‘Seoul Street’, while 7017 marks the overpass’ construction year of 1970, and its new function as a public walkway in 2017. The pedestrianized viaduct next to Seoul’s main station is the next step towards making the city and especially the central station district, greener, friendlier and more attractive, whilst connecting all patches of green in the wider area.

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An amazing achievement, this large-scale urban regeneration, remove a two-tier overpass and created new landscape to the river channel it exposed. Seoul Metropolitan Government successfully addressed a range of economic, social, cultural and environmental problems through a scheme that has provided a template for planning across South Korea and further. Watch the history and restoration video here

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Seoul’s City Hall boasts a sprawling indoor green wall that’s so big it set a Guinness World Record as the world’s largest vertical garden in 2013. Designed by iArc Architects, the seven-story-high vertical garden was created to complement the new City Hall’s environmentally friendly features, including its numerous renewable energy sources from solar power to geothermal energy. Approximately 65,000 plants from 14 different species grow in the garden, which spans an area greater than 17,000 square feet.


The Digital Media City Tower, located in the capital of South Korea, represents a fusion of technology and sustainability strategies that make up the core of this tall building’s design.

Wind towers installed at the structure’s crown are powered by the air that rises through the atrium. The gardens growing inside the tower play the role of lungs, providing air circulation and filtration.

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South Korean capital Seoul plans to invest US$1.55 billion in a solar plan which aims to install 1GW of PV generation capacity by 2022, according to local sources. “Solar City Seoul” will involve the undertaking of seven initiatives then subdivided into 59 separate projects. One key element of the plan is to oversee the increase of miniature solar generators on household rooftops and verandas from around 30,000 up to one million. Including plans for solar bridges and solar pine projects.

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The Goal of the Hyundai-Kia cars is to upgrade all their hybrid car models by the year 2020. Their plan is for the company and take on Toyota, the world’s leading manufacturer of hybrids, and to turn Hyundai-Kia into the world’s second greatest manufacturer of eco-friendly cars. They will produce hybrid cars that are electric models and hydrogen fuel cell powered models.

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In 2000, Songdo was still a marshy stretch of tidal flats in the Yellow Sea, home to a scattering of fishermen. Three years later, the Korean government filled it with 500 million tons of sand in an effort to build a business district near the international airport.  In addition to luring foreign business, the government hoped to create a sustainable city that demonstrated Korea’s technological prowess. Eleven years, $35 billion, and a few economic downturns later, Songdo has completed some 60 percent of its planned infrastructure and buildings, developers say, and reached a population of about 70,000—a third of the number expected by 2018, when the city will be “done.”

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Gangneung Green City transformed a coal yard into an example green city as a representation of the natural resources available in Gangneung. The site uses only natural energy gathered through solar panals and geothermal heat pumps. The Gangneung Green City Experience Center provides a space for visitors to spend the night while they take part in various experience programs to learn more about clean energy, including the science and usability of clean energy in daily life.

Case Study by Kwi-Gon Kim, PH.D.

As the name suggests, WWOOF is an international organization that offers people the opportunity to lend their hand on an organic farm in exchange for room and board. With the payment of an initial registration fee, the WWOOF-er gets access to a directory of farms all over Korea. Eco tourists looking for a Thoreau-esque journey back to the basic human experience can contact a farm that they find particularly appealing, and set up their own customized trip.

Watch: WWOOF house in South Korea (3:47)

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The Ecological Forest, once an area covered by the Hangang River, has been transformed into an eco-forest connecting the Han and Jungnang-cheon (Jungnang stream). This natural habitat for wildlife animals is home to fallow deer, formosan deer, elks, chipmunks, mandarin ducks, mallards, spot-billed ducks and moorhens. There is also an observatory to help visitors get a better view of the local wildlife.

See Seoul Forest Sky View Video