Regional planning and citizen participation in South Korea: The case of Chungbook province

Regional planning in Korea has seldom been influenced by the demands and pressures of interested groups or citizens. To remedy this and open up the planning process to citizen participation, the Korean government developed the Regional Development Regulations of 1981. This mechanism directs regional development planning and citizen participation in it. The experience of the Chungbook Regional Development Plan (1981-1982) is characteristic of the present process of citizen participation in planning in Korea. The methods of insuring citizen participation are fourfold: the citizen advisory committee, the survey of citizens' opinions, the study conference, and the public hearing. Nonetheless, both planners and citizens often assess the participatory elements as being unsatisfactory. Citizen participation in the planning process in Korea can be improved. Specific measures include the addition of a pre-plan phase to the current regional planning process. This phase would require widespread publicity informing citizens of the opportunity to participate in the planning process and improved mechanisms to elicit from citizens their views on the key issues of the regional plan before the decision making phase begins. Finally, the government needs to develop a long-term approach to improving citizen participation in the regional planning process. This should involve the development of training programs that advocate a bottom-up approach to planning based on grassroots citizen participation.