|Korea University, “π-Ville99” that provides students with a place to share their ideas about start-ups, has been operated since June, 2016, which is similar to the “Campus Town” project.|
|/Photograph by Kim Ji-seun|
In total, 52 universities are located in the city of Seoul. Having these many universities in one city is a very rare phenomenon in the world. Since the university is a place where many talented people study their academic fields to lead the future, it indicates that Seoul is filled with human resources. Yet, the economic recession brings the increasing rate of youth unemployment.
As Park Won-soon, the Mayor of Seoul, mentioned in his previous press conference regarding the “Campus Town,” project the high rate of the unemployment causes other issues such as insufficient housing, the lack of university culture, and regional conflicts between local communities and universities. Due to these difficulties, Seoul government has created a project, “Campus Town,” which has been adopted by university towns. Connecting Dongguk University with Namsan Mountain and Chungmu-ro has been selected as a part of the project, and Dongguk will get 1.5 billion won for three years, from 2017 to 2019.
A new model for urban regeneration, “Campus Town” project
“Campus Town” project is a new type of urban regeneration project model. It plans to make university towns fundamental places for youth development. By carrying out its scheme, it tries to revive the regional economy as well. Seoul government plans to inject about 152 billon won in the project until 2025. The project can be described as having a “1+4” structure, which signifies promoting foundation along with resident stability, culture characterization, market revitalization, and regional cooperation.
The government has divided the project into two types - comprehensive model and program model. The model is determined based on the characteristics of respective universities and university towns.
In the case of the comprehensive model, it is an overall project to handle urban regeneration as well as solving youth problems regarding employment, housing, and entertainment, while the program model is a business unit that supports financial aids depending on what universities and university towns actually need. The program model is composed of three forms - hardware form, software form and fused form.
The hardware form involves creating places to arrange start-ups and investing money in housing for young people, which is physical improvement. In contrast, the software form includes foundations’consulting programs for young people, diverse programs to strengthen local communities.
In the case of the fused form, it is a combination of hardware form and software form. Thus, it deals with physical improvement by remodeling established buildings and creates new types of programs to harmonize local communities with the school at the same time. With these organizations, the government chose Korea University for comprehensive model, and 13 universities for the first step program model and 17 universities for the second step program model.
Surrounded by start-up culture, Korea University and Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu
Korea University is the first university implementing the “Campus Town” project and has been selected as a test type. The university applies the comprehensive model to the project. Kim Sei-yong, the Master Planner of the Campus Town Center and the professor of the Department of Architecture of Korea University, commented, “The project for Korea University mainly offers a variety of opportunities to youths to establish their own companies. I believe that the ‘Campus Town’ project is able to foster Anam-dong’s economy. It can solve other problems including the lack of housing and cultural issues as well.”
To nurture youths who want to found their own enterprises, Korea University, the Seoul government, and Seongbuk-gu have planned the “Important Spot” project by renovating empty stores around Chamsari-gil to provide places to prepare for start-ups for students and local communities, and will finally create a smart street in Seongbuk-gu.
As well as developing the youth foundation, the project is concerned with solving the shortage of housing, cultural development, market revitalization and regional cooperation as well. For instance, the project allows several rental housings to be established by remodeling a number of accommodations for exam takers. This can help to invigorate the regional economy and alleviate the conflicts between the local community and the university at the same time.
“Campus Town” Project of Dongguk University, Expecting Synergy of School and Local Area
Going forward to overall vitalization of Dongguk and Jung-gu district by putting economic, residential, and cultural elements together
|Whole design diagram for “Campus Town” project of Dongguk University and Jung-gu, “Namsangol Startup Cultural Triangle Zone.”|
|/Photography from Dongguk University|
Prospering startup and cultural street, Dongguk University and Jung-gu
Dongguk University has also been selected for the “Campus Town” project as the fused form of program model and the project will go along for three years from 2017 to 2019 with the support of the Seoul government. The plan of Dongguk University is called “Namsangol Startup Cultural Triangle Zone” which refers to the collaboration of Dongguk University, Namsangol (local community including Seo-ae-ro, Pildong-ro, and Toegye-ro), and Jung-gu Office. The project consists of three parts: promoting start-ups, cultural development, and market revitalization & resident stability.
Fostering business start-ups is the biggest part of the “Campus Town” project for Dongguk University. Accordingly, the plan includes many elements such as providing a place for business start-ups for the young, practical education, social venture specialists, and creating a business start-up network.
To create startup-friendly environment, Chungmuro Film Gallery and several facilities nearby such as Seoul Media Center and Daehan Cinema will be utilized. Jeon Byung-hoon, the professor in charge of “Campus Town” project of Dongguk and the head of the Youth Entrepreneurship Center, said, “Underground space that Jung-gu Office owns will be utilized as a place for new start-up companies and their networking so that it could be a foothold space of business start-ups for the young including university students and local residents.”
In addition, as the “Campus Town” project is implemented, it is expected to facilitate the local economy by creating a food alley including students’ start-up companies. Moreover, by matching residents who have spare rooms and students of the university, the stability of dwelling nearby the school can be improved.
In terms of cultural development, in order to create a Korean Wave cultural street along Seo-ae-ro, Dongguk University and Jung-gu are planning to cultivate culture tourism guides. They are also planning to improve some parts of the local environment that have fallen behind. Professor Jeon said, “Standing of the basis of existing movements such as creating Seo-ae-ro cultural street and Cham-saram service group’s reforming local surroundings, those movements will be invigorated with the collaboration of Dongguk University and Jung-gu.”
Regarding the results expected, Professor Jeon Byung-hoon commented, “By fulfilling the ‘Campus Town’ project, business start-up of intellectuals educated under the university will flourish to create jobs for students and local residents.” He added, “It would be possible to facilitate local economics if university town of Dongguk is upgraded with various programs with the collaboration of the interested parties including students, school, and local resources and residents.”
|Jeon Byung-hoon, head of the Youth Entrepreneurship Center|
|/Photograph by Kim Min-ji|
Different interests between students and the school
Although there are many benefits to creating campus towns, however, some problems can appear while pushing the project forward. What students and the school anticipate can differ since the two groups have different status.
Lee Seung-jun, the chairperson of the General Student Council (GSC) of Korea University, said, “Students may expect the project to have a positive effect on the stability of dwelling more than other problems, while the school seems to place emphasis especially on the business start-up side.”
Some students of Dongguk University also agree with this idea, by saying residential environment and cultural elements are more important parts than business start-up. Choi Eun-ji (sophomore, Department of International Trade), said, “In case of Dongguk University, I think, revitalization of dwelling is necessary because of expensive dormitory fee and students fallen from the selection for dormitory and living far from the school.” She added, “I also think the image of Dongguk will be improved if cultural elements invigorate.”
However, the plan of the project which Dongguk University and the Jung-gu office have made is putting emphasis on the business start-up. Jeon Byung-hoon, the head of the Youth Entrepreneurship Center, said, “We are going to support the business start-up by providing environment for creative activities and networks among the local community. Laying emphasis on the support on start-up, combined with resident stability, market revitalization, and culture prosperity, local area around Dongguk University all-round will be vitalized.”
Such gap in interests between students and the school can make the “Campus Town” project less efficient because what students wants to be improved the most is not regarded as the main part of the “Campus Town” plan.
Gentrification, causing difficulty of living for residents
Another possible question of the “Campus Town” project is “gentrification,” a phenomenon that increases rental fees due to the prosperity of certain regions and kicks existing residents out of the area. If the local environment is improved by building new facilities for dwelling, start-ups, and so on, some people who have lived in the area might find it difficult to maintain their residences because of high rental fees.
Kim Sei-yong, the master planner of the Campus Town Center and the professor of Korea University, said, “It is not so bad to cause gentrification itself, however, preventing franchises from entering the local market is important to keep inhabitants.” Choi Geun-hee, the professor of the Department of Urban Administration of the University of Seoul, commented, “Gentrification is a serious problem but difficult to solve since it is one of the fundamental problems of capitalism. Therefore, the support from the government is necessary for the interested parties to overcome such a problem.”
Regarding this issue, Kim Hye-kyoung, the staff of the Campus Town Construction Team of Seoul City Hall said that they are planning to minimize gentrification by sharing roles of main agents such as school, residents, and merchants and consulting experts about the phenomenon.
Jin Cha-beom, the manager of the Office of Planning of Dongguk University, said, “In case of Dongguk University’s project, there will not be any new constructions causing concerns so that gentrification will not be a big matter.” Kim Yoon-cheol, the owner of Morri Zzang which is a self-employed Japanese restaurant near Dongguk University, said, “If the development of business district can go along as it is just like the current figure, I consider the ‘Campus Town’ project in positive way. The vitalization of commercial supremacy will increase merchants’ profits.”
Unclear necessity of the project regarding the essence of universities
Some people also raise doubts that creating campus towns may make universities a gateway for business start-ups and employment, not a place for academic studying. In fact, there were several words questioning the necessity of the “Campus Town” project pointing out that what students lack is not a place to found startup companies.
In terms of this issue, Professor Kim Sei-yong said, “Although the major function of universities is to pursue academic studying, I believe the schools also should deal with external matters, too.” He made an additional remark that since established facilities are not enough to support students’ rush for business start-up, the supports of the “Campus Town” project will be useful to provide more resources they demand.
The “Campus Town” project has been planned with good intentions such as supporting business start-ups, specializing cultural elements, revitalizing markets, and stabilizing dwelling environment around the university campuses. However, to make a desirable result by carrying out the project, there are many aspects people should be concerned about continuously.
Professor Choi Geun-hee said, “Even though the physical outcome of the project such as remodeling and construction may be visible in one to three years, it will take considerable time to settle the market and solve problems of the youth and regional conflict. Accordingly, the project should be enforced with elaborate research and preparations in the long term and enough consultation among stakeholders is mandatory.”
Kim Ji-seun, Kim Min-ji firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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