The Newsletter 79 Spring 2018

Gentrification in East Asian cities

Ilhong Ko

The impact of gentrification on the urban population of East Asia has been significant indeed, due to the region’s experience of condensed urbanization and rapid economic development. The specific trajectories of gentrification that can be observed in the region, however, are widely varied, stemming from the different social, economic, and political conditions facing each East Asian country. In this issue of News from Northeast Asia, we examine the distinctive characteristics of gentrification as it has unfolded in East Asia, and consider the different histories and perceptions of, and reactions towards, gentrification in South Korea, China, and Japan.

In ‘The Geographies of Gentrification in East Asia’, Hyun Bang Shin of the London School of Economics and Political Science, addresses the multifaceted and uneven nature of gentrification in East Asia, as well as the challenges facing those contesting gentrification in the region. In the three articles that follow, specific case studies dealing with the contexts, motivations, and results of gentrification are introduced. In the first case study, ‘Deregulation Policy and Gentrification in Chuo Ward, Tokyo’, Yoshihiro Fujitsuka of Osaka City University traces the history of urban decline and regeneration accompanied by gentrification in central Tokyo over a time period spanning 30 years. In the second case study, Seon Yeong Lee of King’s College London focuses on the problems facing the tenants of Hannam, Seoul, following the gentrification of the area and their active attempts to address those problems in ‘Resisting Gentrification in South Korea’. In the third case study, ‘State, Global Urbanism, and Gentrification in Chengdu’, Qinran Yang of Southwest Jiaotong University considers a new form of gentrification led by state-led urbanism and warns of its potential treat for the urban community of Chengdu.

Ilhong Ko, Research Fellow, Seoul National University Center; Regional Editor of News from Northeast Asia (