Washington International Law Journal


The discussions about urban growth boundaries in the United States have paid little attention to Korea's Greenbelt policy. Established in 1971, Seoul's massive Greenbelt has been rigidly maintained, although there have been some minor exceptions over the years. The liberalization of the Korean economy and the democratization of Korean society have been accompanied by deregulation in many spheres. However, land use planning remains tightly constrained, and there has only been minimal relaxation of the land laws; in fact, on balance they have become tougher. Some scholars have begun to question whether the Greenbelt might have restricted economic growth in Korea and significantly raised the costs of development. Others argue that the environmental benefits of the Greenbelt are substantial. There has also been some pressure from landowners and "natives" within the Greenbelt who argue that continued Greenbelt regulations represent a "takings" which deprives them of land value appreciation. This Article focuses on three alternatives: maintain the Greenbelt in its current form; modify the law by allowing significant development to occur, perhaps with the introduction of a cross-subsidy scheme; or abandon the Greenbelt altogether. The Article also examines the potential conflicts between the central government's control over the Greenbelts and local autonomy.

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