Technology 3 min read

Seoul's Example is a Cure for car Addiction

Populous cities have long looked for ways to cure their car addiction. The mega-city of Seoul, South Korea may have a solution: using tech to shift focus.

Seoul | FenlioQ | Shutterstock.com

Seoul | FenlioQ | Shutterstock.com

South Korea is more than just K-Pop and skincare–it is a thriving culture shifting its focus with technology.

Whether based in Houston like Edgy Labs or in other major cities across the world, many places are car-centric. Few places favor pedestrians and public transportation. In an effort to battle traffic jams and shift focus from cars, the South Korean capital is leveraging new tech.

In what ways is the mega-city Seoul challenging its car-loving culture?

#Seoul Could Cure Car Addiction With #TechClick To Tweet
South Korea | Asia Exchange

How This Mega-City Mitigated Critical Car Mass

Seoul has a history of embracing technology. You can’t become a mega-city without preparing for the future, after all. Some of the technological achievements are in the realm of entertainment. Streaming content is popular as are numerous K-Pop bands like EXO and BTS. There’s also this super fabulous 77-year-old woman with an impressively layered YouTube channel.

Other include recent changes to local infrastructure. Since there almost 9.8 million people living there, Seoul has a sophisticated public transportation system with subways and buses both backed by tech. Without these systems, Chang Yi from the Seoul Institute told CNN that Seoul would be even more car-centric. It would be: “like a traffic hell.”

 

Leveraging Current Systems to Change How Citizens View Cars

In one of his earlier, pre 1 million subscribers videos, car writer Doug DeMuro traveled to South Korea to learn more about its car-centric culture. Almost all of the cars he sees on the road are of Korean make with few exceptions. What you don’t see is how technology is moving all of these cars to avoid “traffic hell”.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon | Seoul Metropolitan Government via WSJ

Mayor Park Won-Soon told CNN: “Our citizens were addicted to cars for a long time. Moving from the car-centric city to pedestrian oriented city . . . changing the minds of citizens is the most difficult and time consuming job.”

Many changes such as turning old roads into rivers and train tracks into walkways encourage pedestrians. Initiatives like this aren’t uncommon either.

Myeong-dong, a neighborhood (or dong) in Seoul’s central district, has been car-free since 1997. The mayor also enacted a plan to develop an old overpass into a “sky garden”.

All of these changes reinforce a “cure” for the city’s seeming car addiction.

traffic jam in Moscow | Wikipedia

Can Other Cities Cure Car Addiction This Way?

While Seoul is very much a work in progress, all of the city systems are supporting this shift away from cars. This means that, over time, the culture will shift toward pedestrians and public transportation. As early adopters and integrators of technology, could Seoul serve as an example city for other nations around the globe?

If city planners can leverage high-tech traffic data gathering and adjust plans, perhaps LA could negotiate its notoriously horrendous traffic. Maybe Houston and Dallas could become more walkable. As we move into a future where electric cars are most likely going to be the standard, a more pedestrian-focused culture may be a standard, too.

In what other ways could a city encourage pedestrians and cure people’s car addiction?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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  1. nimbe3 November 20 at 2:02 pm GMT

    Wow what a bunch of BS! I live and work here in Seoul. Your artists rendition of the potted plant walkover is laughable. I work in the area and I don’t see any trees and clean streets like you dream about in your article. They took an efficient traffic overpass and their liberal mayor spent millions turning it into a potted plant on concrete eyesore.

    Yes they have a very extensive subway system and disregarding the two major commuter cattle car times it is easy to get about. Buses? Yeah they got green, blue, red, and yellow ones clogging up the city at all hours. they have bus only lanes that the buses use when it suits them. Other wise they just push their way into all the lanes as they see fit. Add to this the normal “illegal” parking on the sides of the streets you now have a four lane street being condensed into a two lane street.

    And lets not get started on running red lights and motorcycles driving in between cars and on sidewalks. A news article just last week complained that living near bus stations causing an increase in cancer due to the pollution.

    I live in an apartment on the river and for hours in the morning, evening, and weekends there is a constant traffic slowdown in all directions and on both sides of the river. Koreans love their cars and most of them are large sedans, minivans, and SUV’s. There is also a much larger foreign car presence here than what the writer makes you believe. In fact BMW’s are prevalent in the upscale area that they are called German Sonatas. Benz’s, rovers, porsches, Bentleys, lexus’s, and now more and more maserati’s. Most cars only have one person in them.

    And the last fallacy is Myeong Dong. Yes there are couple streets that have car restriction hours so that more tourists can crowd the small stores and coffee shops. But “car free”??? Where?

    • Jean Delestelle November 21 at 4:55 am GMT

      Yes obviously the author has no idea what he’s talking about.

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      Brett Forsberg November 28 at 5:36 pm GMT

      Hi nimbe3.

      None of us here at Edgy Labs are based in Seoul, and your perspective is definitely one that needs to be considered! While we were reporting on news as dispersed by other major outlets and local city officials, we did not reach out to locals such as yourself and Google can only tell us so much. We want to reflect reality as accurately as possible and we were unable to do that this time. For future articles about Seoul, are there any outlets you trust to give a fair depiction that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us? Going further, if you’re interested in writing something related to how Seoul is integrating tech into its culture or infrastructure, we’d be glad to consider it for a guest post on our blog. We apologize for misrepresenting the state of Seoul’s motor vehicle infrastructure as you see it.

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