The Bartlett School of Planning


Jungha Im

Research subject

Do the social economy and urban regeneration interact?: the case of neighbourhood regeneration in South Korea

Primary supervisor: Professor Yvonne Rydin
Secondary supervisor: Dr Jessica Ferm
Sponsor: Korean National Institute for International Education
Starting date: September 2020
Projected completion date: September 2024

The social economy has been paid attention not only as an alternative economic approach in response to the continuing low growth rates and increasing unemployment rates but also as an innovative way to solve the social exclusion problems which have been failed to tackle through the state or market systems. Such potential of the social economy has also drawn increasing interest from the current urban policy regime in Korea – where the changing economic structure and decreasing population have accelerated urban decline issues, particularly in the small and medium-sized cities. Such complex urban decline phenomenon requires a different approach of regenerating the cities from the previous physical and economic growth-dependent way. At the same time, the government put an increasing emphasis on the development and involvement of the social economy sector in pursuing more socially and economically integrated and area-based regeneration processes.

In this regard, this research aims to understand how the social economy entities interact with other actors to achieve common regeneration goals and contribute to the current neighbourhood regeneration schemes in South Korea through the lens of the dynamics of social economy initiatives. To do this, firstly it will explore how the social economy sector has been developed in response to the changes in social, economic, and institutional circumstances in different national/local contexts and in what ways the social economy demonstrates potential and challenges in delivering regeneration initiatives. Based on the understanding, secondly, a conceptual framework will be developed to explore the dynamics of the social economy – co-production of public service, social integration through work integration, community development with mobilisation of various forms of social capital, and creation of micro-level public sphere. Those themes guide the research in terms of collecting and analysing data, based on multiple case studies of neighbourhood regeneration projects in Korea.


Jungha is a research student at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. Before joining the PhD programme, she has worked for a Korean national think tank, the Architecture and Urban Research Institute (AURI). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Pusan National University in Korea and a master’s degree in Sustainable Urbanism from UCL. Her research interest is in the social economy, urban regeneration, and local development.  

  • “A Study on the Promotion of Sustainable Community Enterprise for the Local Regeneration - Focused on Community Enterprises in the UK”, Journal of the Architectural Institute of Korea, Planning Section, Vol.34 No.5, 2018, 139-150. (in Korean)
  • “A Study on Community Participation for Sustainable Preservation of Historic Cities and Local Museum as Hubs”, Journal of Korean Traditional Cultural Heritage, Vol. 17, 2016, 147-186. (in Korean)
Conference papers/presentations
  • “Understanding Social Economy in the Discourse of Urban Regeneration in South Korea”, Association of Collegiate and Schools of Planning Annual Conference, (Greenville, SC, Oct 2019)
  • “A Study on Korean Space Stratum in Globalization, National Sovereignty, and Democracy”, co-author Kim Jong-bum, International Conference on East Asian Architectural Culture, (EAAC - Tianjin, China, Oct 2017)