|Professor Lim Hyung-baek|
It is more difficult to draw an image clearly on another image than to do so on blank paper. Likewise, once a space or region has been ill-developed, it is more difficult to turn it back to a well developed space than to develop a space from ground zero.
It is a “counterattack of space,” says Professor Lim Hyung-baek of Sungkyul University in his recent book, “The Formation and Change of Spatial Structure of Land in Korea” (Hanul Publishing Co.).
The author, who is on the editorial staff of the Korean Urban Management Association and chairman of the textbook publishing committee of the Korean Regional Development Association, uses two somewhat unfamiliar concepts, “space” and “spatial structure,” rather than the traditional “region.”
While a region has a two-dimensional planar and physical connotation, the word “space” has a three-dimensional social nature, he says. So, space is a concept which encompasses both tangible man-made structures and intangible elements such as systems and values.
A spatial structure is formed in a space through a certain process involving human migration, capital inflow, technology development, idea creation, innovation and the like. Its shape varies depending on where the structure begins to form.
Lim regards space as an organism. He uses the expression “constructive space” to assert that an existing space becomes insufficient to satisfy the expanding needs of its inhabitants as its economy grows. Thus, space should stay variable and fluid enough to accommodate social changes in the future like an organism does. In such a context, the author criticizes indiscriminate or unplanned development of large residential areas.
He maintains that space has a “self-reinforcement mechanism” and explains it, noting how difficult it is to draw an image clearly on a paper with images already drawn on it.
The counterattack of space due to huge public works and large residential area development projects of the past is a result of the combination of individuals’ selfishness and ill-conceived government policies, the book says.
Lim also raises questions about how space in South Korea will be affected by the reunification of the two Koreas.
He argues that Pyongyang, which is over four times as large as Seoul but with 10 percent of the population density, needs to be further utilized after reunification and asks why South Korea built Sejong City and moved most government offices there.
The book also criticizes a project pushed by the Lee Myung-bak government to construct a “grand canal” that would divide South Korean territory. It is hard to understand why the previous government tried so hard to carry out the project even though there are efficient transportation means such as sea routes and railways. As other reasons against the project, it cites heavy, concentrated downpours in summer and the possibility of the route being frozen in winter.
To develop globally competitive space or land in South Korea, quantitative growth, regional selfishness and populism should be scrapped. Also post-reunification scenarios should be deeply taken into account, the book says.
By Chun Sung-woo (email@example.com