Environmentally Friendly Land Use Planning, Property Rights, and Public Participation in South Korea: A Case Study of Greenbelt Policy Reform


Hyunsoo.pdf (1.18 MB)
Downloads: 1965

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


This paper explores the greenbelt policy reform in South Korea (Korea). In 1971, Korea's authoritarian government introduced the Restricted Development Zone (RDZ: greenbelts) policy to prevent the conurbation between cities and the disorderly development of cities. Because the policy ignored individual property rights, landowners and developers have applied political pressure against it until recently. President Kim Dae Jung promised to reform the existing greenbelt policy in the presidential election of 1997. In reforming the RDZ Policy, property rights conflicted with public interests such as environmental protection in the late 1990s. As a result, there was a need to address environment-friendly land use planning and property rights issues, and central government has initiated a collaborative process of the RDZ policy reform.

This major paper investigates Korea's RDZ Policy Reform from the perspective of sustainable development, property rights, and public participation. It suggests an alternative land use planning and a new democratic relationship between the state and civil society and between private and public interests through public involvement.

While the reformed RDZ Policy has been somewhat successful because it resolves the problem of the exercise of property rights, it neither resolves equity problems, nor fully considers environmental problems. In addition, the collaborative process through public participation failed to reach an agreement because central government depended on top-down solutions during the process. Therefore, it is necessary to make new norms through public participation and to pay attention to the fact that genuine democracy comes from grassroots. That is, the success of a policy depends on actual public participation and how stakeholders play a role in formulating new norms. In addition, separation of development rights from land ownership is needed to achieve the successful greenbelt policy reform. In particular, "permit zone" is a useful concept because Korean land use planning is based on the zoning system.



property rights, environmentally friendly land use planning, greenbelts, sustainable development, public participation