Deadline Looms for Mass Park Closures in South Korea

Dec 19, 2019

In the South Korean city of Cheonan, the Cheonan-Asan branch of Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM) have joined local residents in the fight to preserve the Ilbong Mountain Park. The park is one of 4,421 city parks under threat of disappearing when the so called “Sunset Deadline” arrives in July 2020.

During Korea’s rapid urbanization in the 70’s and 80’s, the national government designated large tracts of privately owned land as ‘urban planning facilities,’ for future parks, schools and infrastructure. This land was later transferred to local governments, who were expected to buy out the owners, and build municipal facilities. While many schools and infrastructural projects were built, much of the land set aside for parks was left undeveloped, or parks were simply built without buying the land. As a result, more than half of the total area of city parks in Korea will be at risk of development in 2020.

Cheonan is a densely populated city and the Ilbong Mountain Park provides breathing space for the city’s citizens. More than 26,000 residents have signed a petition opposing the development of a massive apartment complex which would destory the park. Cheonan-Asan KFEM has been leading the protests, with the Executive Director, Seo Sang-ok, engaging in a ten-day hunger strike to draw attention to the issue.

“Through our actions we hope to force the central government to step in and save the nation’s city parks.”  -Choony Kim, KFEM

KFEM will continue their work on a national level, to fight park closures throughout the country.

For more information contact:
Choony Kim
International Affairs / Policy Planning, KFEM

Sam Macdonald,
International Team, KFEM