Light House is pleased to welcome Mr. Hyungeun Ji to our team. Mr. Ji joins us as an intern, from South Korea. In Korea he works as a civil servant in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, managing City Parks. He is currently on a 2-year intern sabbatical with his family here in Vancouver and will be supporting Light House with research and knowledge sharing, specifically around regenerative design.
We will be highlighting some of his research in our monthly newsletters and sharing insights into what Korea is doing, such as reclaiming City Parks to make Happy Cities.
City Parks in South Korea
In South Korea, parks are recognized as important green infrastructure in the city. When implementing a development project in an urban area, the ratio of park area shall be mandatory pursuant to the Park Green Act, and many local governments are also making great efforts to expand green infrastructure such as parks.
As of 2020, there are 22,254 (698 square kilometers) city parks in S. Korea, and many citizens are heading to the park to relax in the open space where there is less risk of infection after the Pandemic. Sejong Lake Park, located in Sejong Special Self-Governing City, is one of the representative parks of S. Korea. It provides 320,000 square meters of artificial lakes, five major theme islands, 8.8 kilometers of walking paths, and 4.7 kilometers of bicycle paths, making it a representative resting place for Sejong citizens.
Recently, S. Korea had many difficulties with the park sunset system, which was implemented in July 2020 to protect the property rights of park site owners. As of 2018, 368 square kilometers (1,987 parks) were on the verge of being abolished, but since early 2018, the central government has taken active measures such as selecting areas that need to be built, providing financial support to local governments, private capital utilization, improvement of the park system, and use of state-owned land. As a result, 310 square kilometers (84%) of the parks’ sites will maintain their function, and it is expected to result in building 650 parks, planting 15 million trees, and annually absorbing 558 tons of fine dust.
I would like to introduce the case of a private capital park, one of the solutions to the city park sunset. Jamdubong Park and Saejeokgul Park in Cheongju City were designated as parks in 1967 and 1974, respectively, but they have been used as agricultural land and junk shops, failing to function as parks. However, the private capital park project began in 2015 and was completed in May last year. With the construction of a 220,000-square-meter park, the green area was restored, and silkworm-shaped amusement facilities, an arboretum, libraries, and squares were also installed for citizens.
Jamdubong Park and Saejeokgul Park
All local governments in S. Korea declared the achievement of 2050 carbon neutrality in May 2021. Local authorities are currently setting carbon neutral year-by-year targets on their own. For example, Seoul set a target of 42% in 2030, 72% in 2040, and 100% in 2050, and Jeju Island plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. After the city park sunset, the role of city parks will become more important to achieve carbon neutrality and sustainable cities. There are various attempts to cope with climate change and incorporate new technologies, such as the construction of a smart park in Eco Delta City in Busan City and Zero Energy Park in Yangcheon-gu, Seoul, and these efforts are expected to raise the level of park service.