This large hillside sits several kilometers east of New Songdo City in the city of Incheon. Its broad, eastern face used to a host a maze of small, single-story homes. In the late 2000s, as the construction of Songdo’s International Business District gained steam landlord unions sold the rights to development companies effectively forcing out even those homeowners who did not wish to move.
The land is currently being flattened and smoothed in preparation for apartment construction. At the base of the hill several unauthorized recycling centers have popped up. These too will soon disappear to make way for another high-rise, high-priced condo.
songdo frontiers. series 2: in the shadows of development (informal settlements). 2014
New Songdo City’s development has been marked by fits and starts. Land reclamation for the proposed New Town was initiated by Daewoo in 1994, but following the 1997 Asian financial crisis and nationwide economic restructuring Daewoo abandoned this development project. Although the built environment of Songdo’s urban center is commencing apace (despite its often cited failure to attract much foreign investment) these initial areas of reclaimed land remain free from corporate development.
The space pictured above runs along the southwest bank of Incheon City across from the new urban island. Over the course of two decades various tenants moved in and built informal settlements and undocumented business zones (including an international car export bazaar). Currently these areas are being abandoned and/or razed as Songdo and the city of Incheon’s development plans continue to evolve and expand (economically and geographically) to make way for new neoliberal land-use projects.