Seoul: The evolution of informal settlers’ political gains in changing state regimes in Seoul

Boram Kimhur, Hoguen Park, Jaehyeon Park

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


South Korea transformed from an authoritarian regime to a democratic regime starting in 1987, when a popular movement led to the June 29 Declaration. This movement was triggered by continuous uprisings and social movements, which included alliances between antieviction groups, labor rights groups, and pro-democracy groups. However, understanding the political meaning of informal settlers’ movements in Seoul through the lens of the democratization process can lead to oversimplification: the interactions between citizens and the state were complex, leading to political gains and loss of mobilization. In fact, positions adopted by the Korean state have varied a lot over time, ranging from authoritarian to bureaucratic and finally democratic. Furthermore, the country has features of a strong developmental state. Accordingly, the attitude of the state and the Seoul government toward informal settlements has been mixed and, consequently, the strategies adopted by informal settlers for securing their housing rights have also changed dramatically. This chapter examines the interaction between informal settlers’ movements and transitional and mixed state regimes in South Korea. It analyzes how the attitude of the government differed according to the state’s position, how informal settlers reacted to such different state positions, and how the latter influenced the state’s attitude as a result. It also discusses the extent to which such struggles have achieved their claims and secured political space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanization
EditorsRoberto Rocco, Jan van Ballegooijen
Place of PublicationLondon, New York
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-317-29233-3, 978-1-315-64554-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-18388-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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