Seoul to take inspiration from Singapore's HDB

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (centre) visiting Kampung Admiralty in Singapore on July 30, 2022. PHOTO: SEOUL METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT

SINGAPORE - To change the image of public housing in South Korea being deemed by many as "cheap and shameful", Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon hopes to take a leaf from Singapore's public housing policies.

"I realised that Singapore has gradually improved the design and architectural level of public housing," he told The Straits Times in Seoul before his visit to Singapore starting last Friday (July 29).

"I am very impressed by the improvements Singapore has achieved over time."

In town to attend the ongoing World Cities Summit, Mr Oh spent Saturday studying some landmark projects by the Housing Board.

He saw a model for Singapore's new prime location public housing (PLH) scheme, which imposes stricter buying and selling conditions on flat owners to keep public housing in prime areas affordable and inclusive.

"The PLH... aligns with Seoul's policy direction," he said. "We will build high-quality rental housing in the city centre or near subway stations so that the newlyweds, youth, and people who just started their career can live in an apartment close to their workplace."

Seeking solutions on how to address issues of childcare and ageing population, he visited Kampung Admiralty - Singapore's first public silver town project that has both eldercare and childcare facilities and is located within an estate popular with young couples with children.

Seoul has a similar project tentatively named Gold Village, and it also has plans to design units that allow three generations to live together but lead separate lives.

The Mayor also visited Eco@Punggol - Singapore's first eco town - for ideas on sustainable living, urban development and smart infrastructure.

During his five-day visit that ends on Aug 2, Mr Oh is also scheduled to meet government officials including Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

At the World Cities Summit, which is held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre from July 31 to Aug 3, Mr Oh hopes to promote Seoul city's vision and announce the return of tourism.

"We have set a very aggressive target to attract 28 million people within the next four years," he said.

He added that Seoul drew 14 million tourists a year before the Covid-19 outbreak, and there are now many new attractions for tourists, such as an hour-long trekking course on Bugak mountain that offers "a spectacular night view of Seoul".

"We plan to continue to invest in building more attractions to make Seoul a must-visit city," he said.

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