Thursday, April 10, 2014

Redrawing Korean Maps - Innovation Clusters

Maps time!

More than ever, the NW-SE axis forms the industrial backbone of South Korea. Since 2010, the regions of Yeongnam (Busan-Gyeongbuk-Gyeongnam-Ulsan-Daegu) and Hoeseo (Chungnam-Chungbuk-Daejeon-Sejong) have boomed much more spectacularly than Sudogwon (Seoul-Incheon-Gyeonggi):


Korea's main industrial regions in 1980 and now - the purple dots mark sites added after 2010 (Yeongnam clearly ahead of Hoseo and Sudogwon)
The recent adoption of a system of innovation clusters certainly contributed to a phenomenon facilitated by improved infrastructures, particularly in transports. Each region has now clear "verticals", knowing that, of course, not all regions and clusters are not created equal:


Clear "verticals" for each region

Zooming in, the regional hubs and their interfaces (simplified maps):


Sudogwon (Seoul-Incheon-Gyeonggi) - Paju among the missing hubs
Chungcheong, where Samsung invests massively in displays for instance in displays
Yeongnam Daegyeong (North) - NB: I'm glad nothing is planned around Andong
Yeongnam Dongnam (South) - Busan the natural magnet
Honam - a less dense network
Gangwon - new infrastructures (e.g. railways) shall help this laggard of a region catch up. As long as they don't spoil Seoraksan..
On the Korea Industrial Complex Corporation's e-cluster.net website, you can also get all details at the mini-cluster level. Here, Seoul, where the DMC and the G-Valley (around Guro) play key roles:



The Korea Industrial Complex Corporation promotes a global vision and consistency in a complex system where some major industrial parks are directly under the authority of the government, while many are attached to local authorities**. Launched in 1997 to replace a system of regional management corporations, the KICOX started the following year with the Paju publishing hub, and led the shift towards innovation clusters in 2004.

Naturally, only a few clusters may become international leaders, and there's always a rob Peter to pay Paul effect, not to mention environmental impacts. But as we speak, Korea's map keeps being redrawn.

And such clusterfucks as Saemangeum will probably keep popping up: in Korea like anywhere else, you'll never prevent all politicians from nurturing pharaonic pet projects.


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* "4곳뿐이던 산업단지가 30년만에 131곳 `진격의 충청`" (MK News 20140410)
** just like with the special zones (FEZ - Free Economic Zone / FIZ - Foreign Investment Zone / FTZ - Free Trade Zone...)

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