Uncovering Inequalities in Food Accessibility between Koreans and Japanese in 1930s Colonial Seoul Using GIS and Open-Source Transport Analytics Tools
This study aimed to investigate the disparities and inequalities in food accessibility in colonial Seoul (Keijo [京城] in Japanese, and Gyeongseong [경성] in Korean) in the 1930s, using a geographic information system (GIS) and open-source transport analytics tools. We specifically focused on the unique social standing of people in the colonial era, namely colonial rulers (Japanese) vs. subjects (Koreans) and examined whether neighborhoods with larger proportions of colonial rulers had more access to food opportunities. For a comprehensive evaluation, we computed food accessibility by multiple transport modes (e.g., public transit and walking), as well as by different time budgets (e.g., 15 min and 30 min) and considered various sets of food options—including rice, meat, seafood, general groceries, vegetables, and fruits—when measuring and comparing accessibility across neighborhoods in colonial Seoul. We took a novel digital humanities approach by synthesizing historical materials and modern, open-source transport analysis tools to compute cumulative opportunity-based accessibility measures in 1930s colonial Seoul. The results revealed that Japanese-dominant neighborhoods had higher accessibility by both public transit and walking than Korean-dominant neighborhoods. The results further suggest that inequality and disparity in food accessibility is observed not only in contemporary society but also in the 1930s, indicating a historically rooted issue.