South Korean Urban Planning: A Human Shield Against The North?

First-time visitors to South Korea will be amazed by the dense maze of high-rise apartments shooting up in and around Seoul. The bewildering sensory overload that some of our readers may have experienced (and still live with) may be partially explained when finding out that the very apartment serves more than one purpose of providing roof over one’s head – absorbing shells and delaying the advancing North Korean army to be precise. It is often very easy to forget how militarized South Korea is. Yet many South Koreans complain about the tiny coffin-space of an apartment they live in….

From TodayHumor:


Many New (satellite) Cities surround Seoul. Good traffic and living environment~




Kimpo Hangang New City




Most of the New Cities surround Seoul. But did you guy know that these cities were designed for strategic value? In particular Ilsan was officially recognized as such. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) allegedly has intervened quite a lot in the design of the urban space and the apartment design itself.

It is for, well duh, the defence of Seoul. For those of you who have already served in the army would all know, if North Korea invades, then the first thing they have to do is occupy Seoul. All the national infrastructure are connected to Seoul and vice versa, so once the DPRK army occupied Seoul, they have the entire transport network under their control, which gives them substantial advantage in conducing war.

The shortest path to Seoul is by crossing the Imjin River and Han River estuaries, and advancing through Ilsan. That means Ilsan is the main target of the North Korean military. Well, maybe not, this is simply an example. However, the MoD is quite heavily involved with the arrangement of the apartment complex construction, so this is not entirely unfounded.

In any case, there are TONS of apartments in Ilsan. Apartment here, apartment there…. and they are MASSIVE. A lot of them are ㄷ-shaped… Again, not all.. -_-

This is an ideal place for self-propelled artillary. Fire a shot at the advancing army and before the counter-attack arrives, they will run into the nearest apartment. And the apartments will serve provide safety from the return-fire. This would provide an ideal defensive environment. Fire and hide, fire and hide. The advancing army will really go mental over this.

Imagine keep being shelled even if you returned fire. North Korea’s army’s shells are mostly not fuel-air shells but anti-personnel shells so shooting at those apartment blocks will not accomplish jack. That is why the apartments are ideal ‘wall’.

And even if the DPRK army managed to enter the city, the entire city is maze-like. The armored divisions will experience quite a difficult time navigating through the block after block of apartments. By then the Global-Hawk will be hovering over their heads and the artillery based in south of the Han river will be shelling them.

By then the 3 million-strong reserved army would be fully mobilized. And several thousands of them will be holed up in the city armed with K-2, grenades, anti-armor guns – that will show the DPRK army the meaning of Stalingrad. But the civilians still trapped inside will probably be all killed… ㅠㅠ

And the last resort would be to blow up all the apartment blocks. Then the arterial roads to Seoul will be entirely blocked. The armored and artillery divisions will have to make big detours to enter Seoul. But other New Cities are exactly like that. That is why there are so many apartments in the New Cities. The main purpose, of course, is for residential and sales but the secondary purpose is for defensive parameter, that is what I am getting at.

In other word, the MoD’s Apartgrad Operation!

Comments from TodayHumor:




Is this where the poster got arrested for leaking the military confidential information?


Whether missile or nuke or biochem weapon, Seoul will be the first to be bombed. Dead Serious.


This is true. I would think it’s actually a common knowledge to many.. The oversized roads in Changwon is actually meant to be emergency runway for jet planes.


And if they build warehouse stores full of food and electric appliances, the North Korean army is expected to be delayed by full 2 days. That’s why they authorized the construction of that department store.


Here, I found the news article ke ke (it reads ‘The Korean Land Corporation countered the allegation raised by an opposition MP that Ilsan was designed EXCLUSIVELY for defensive purpose. However, they admitted that some defensive considerations were factored in designing the city. The Land Corporation argued that since the City of Ilsan falls within the defensive parameter and military-operational area, the principles were applied within ‘legally permissible boundary’, and added ‘not constructed out of purely defense aim’)


1 It’s not that they build the New Cities FOR defensive only, but that they would serve some defensive function, right? Since they are building those apartments, they may as well be designed in a way effective for defense as well.


Well, I cannot go into details… but I may add that the so-called Apartgrad defensive operation is ‘quite plausible’ claim….


Am I the only one having a laugh over this…? Am I the only one…?


ke ke ke ke, what, you guys all from Seoul? The roads in Paju that suddenly narrows and have boulders on both sides are there to block the advancing army. Like the guy above says, the big billboards along the road are also for blocking the road. Ilsan is mostly vertical rock-face so it’s alright. Seoul will be the first to be bombed anyhow. But my house is so close to the 9th Division HQ, so I’m quite scared that we may get shelled…. It’s only 10minute running distance from my house to the 9th DIV HQ…. Dammit, Poongdong [district of Ilsan].


I remember watching when the Defense Minister actually admitted about this ON TV and it caused quite a lot of fuss the next day… Isn’t this already a common knowledge? Especially Uijeongbu and Ilsan were designed for defensive purpose for sure. That was a big news, so I am not sure why people don’t believe this old news now…. – -a In fact back then, people complained about how ‘he really should not have admitted that so openly….’ ke ke ke. And you guys keep saying ‘shelling Seoul’, ‘shelling Seoul’ but shelling Seoul directly is NOT easy. Unless they can curve the shells somehow….. – -;;


I study administration and we actually learn this during urban planning ke ke. New Cities (Ilsan especially), Uijeongbu, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Jamsil… Other than , Seoul in nearly all entirety is designed with the military purpose in mind. Well, not ENTIRELY for military purpose but it certainly has military functions.


Don’t you guys know about the subway lines and underground tunnels;;;


By the way, come what may but from the perspective of North Korea, isn’t it better to just strike Ulsan..? If they blow up all the petrochemical factories there…


All the bridges along the Han River are fitted so that it could be taken down in case of war. This was in a way for military purpose


‘unintelligible gibberish’ I live in an apartment in Paju ‘unintelligible gibberish’ So my house is for military, *wail*. I was so happy that I got so many thumbs-up yesterday but what is this madness *sob*. Ok, so Paju is the northernmost city in South Korea and the average temperature is low and from where I live the Unification Observatory is only 40 minutes away, so if the news of war is up, I am already dead~* Save me pleaseeee ㅛㅛㅛ


Dammit, you guys are not supposed to talking about this…… or so I thought until I read the article… well, this is actually a common knowledge ke ke ke Ah….. I am sooo tempted to talk about the military operations I had to do in Ilsan……


Why are you yapping about unnecessarily? If someone rat you out for leaking security information, will you be sorry then? Just delete this.


I have been living in Ilsan for 14 years….

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  • Wang that!

    starting at the DMZ from my sofa…

    • Wang that!


  • Steven Wilson

    I found this HILARIOUS. It must be kind of awkward for Ilsan to discover that if war breaks out, it will be used in operation human shield. : P

    Great choice Justin. : )

    • Justin_C

      It is kind of common knowledge in Ilsan in fact…. Certainly most of the guys who already done military service are fully aware of it. I mean I didn’t see blatant military installations everywhere like in Paju (azumas would be up in arms in protest for fear of drop in property value), but it is a bit strange that many South Koreans accept that as a simple fact of life -_ -a

      Not to mention that the housing price in Ilsan is not CHEAP. Some areas in Ilsan go for 1/3 a million USD easy, if not more…. So… Ilsan residents are the most optimistic bunch??? I mean, other than West Bank settlement perhaps…

      • Brett Sanbon

        I live in Gyeong-gi and am searching for a new apartment around here, but honestly I havent seen very much for under 1/3 million USD. Not to purchase, but even 전세 is about that price.

      • DigitalSoju

        Azumas? lol

  • Bam Wam

    Interesting article. This would basically force the north into urban warfare. What gets me however is that, Google Maps has a digital map of Seoul, showing all the buildings, their location, sizes, window locations. It seems kinda of counter productive. North Korea could just get all it need, plan a strategic. approach and invade. Than again, I’m not military official.

    I wonder how many champion Starcraft players are part of the South Korea strategic military planning?

    • Chris

      Doesn’t matter, the North will have to get through a grinder of 60 F-15Ks, 120 F-16s, the USAF 8th, 18th (Japan), 35th (Japan), 36th (Guam), and 51st Wings, several RoK artillery brigades, the USFK artillery brigade, a US combat aviation brigade (apaches, etc.), US naval forces in the Pacific, etc.

      Nothing on wings, rotors, wheels, or treads is making it to Seoul. This isn’t pride, this is simply a fact owing itself to the amount of accurate firepower the RoK and US can levy within an hour. US forces during the Korean War were evenly matched with North Koreans in many factors and pounded them to the border before China had to step in. Now the technological/training gap is generations apart between the DPRK and the South/USA, and the South is actually prepared for an invasion this time. An invasion would be a colossal failure, which is why the DPRK elite only maintain military-first policies for the purpose of internal stability rather than any notion that they would really win a war and be able to hold the peninsula.

      tl;dr: google maps wont help them out much.

      • Justin_C

        yeah, I agree. They know the war is a losing outcome for sure. Mdm Sec Hilz would agree. The policy in place right now is either to starve them out and let them collapse from inside (old Reagan policy but NoKo proved fairly resilient up to now, plus massive humanitarian cost – but may be nearly at its end…?), or let them continue spending high portion of GDP on military and, again, wait for them to collapse from inside. MB policy, I think, chose the latter in favour of sunshine policy (with economic enticement to open up market), and occasionally make the NoKo political leadership fear for the bunker-buster that may crash through the roof any minute.
        so, out-and-out war option is virtually out unless they are so desperate that war becomes suddenly a viable option.

        Somehow doubt that advancing NoKo tank commanders would have iPhone 4 with googlemap on…. :p

        • redwhitedude

          The real damage is all the missiles and artillery aimed at Seoul. By the time US-ROK take them out they would have fired multiple times into Seoul causing significant damage which means that investors with $$$$$ will flee. This will cause massive damage to the Korean economy. Sure they may not be able to set foot anywhere near seoul or fly anything over it but it is the artillery and missiles that can get through.

      • Mich’insaeki

        Urgh… lot of sloppy assumptions Chris. Short of an outright invasion Norks could decide to lob a few thousand arty rounds on Seoul proper tomorrow. Or a few random bombings here or there. Some high profile assassinations. Shoot down airliners. Or whatevuhr. North’s quirky that way. Wouldn’t do it? Don’t bet against it. Any number of internal security scenarios might dictate that the Norks launch limited military action against the South. They have a 50+ year history of doing nothing but. Or am I jus imagining they jus fired nearly 200 arty rounds not even few months back? And what was our retaliation? Yeah right.

        All the endless Al Qaida hysteria in the US makes me laugh… I don’t think there’s ever anything even remotely funny about the Norks. Ever.

        Just remember… when you hear GAS GAS GAS… you’ve got 8 seconds. And all the F-15s and F-16s and F-22s and fighter wings in the Pacific aren’t gonna help. 8 seconds.

  • Bam Wam

    Yeah, I realize that. I guess I was trying to make the point that its dangerous to have such detail maps of a strategic city available online, with buildings laid out, etc. This also holds true for cities like New York. Its like giving the combination to a vault to armed robbers, yeah its going to be hard for them to break in, but why was the information there in the first place.

  • A gawd dang Mongolian

    I can see why they’d do it. To win a war nowadays you want to bog the enemy down, make him waste more resources than he needs.

    However, being that they are still at war, and given how most NKoreans view the average Skorean with contempt on a good day, why would they go out and say all this? It just gives the enemy information and time to prepare a counter strategy.

  • 소지섭

    Common Terran strategy

  • Brett Sanbon

    Chris and Steve Wilson,

    If it is truly you over at chinaSMACK making racist and hurtful comments I would say “stop”. If its not you I would email Fauna and say “Slim Shady” copied my account and is posting under an untrue identity.

  • korea21

    dont i feel safe!!!!

  • Don Q Kim

    1. There was no detour route around Seoul before South Korea got advantage over North in armored vehicles, i.e. tanks, the main invasion tools, so that North Korean tanks could be funnelled into the inner city of Seoulouth if they try to quickly go touching down on Busan port and prevent the US troops from being reinforced. As you know, tanks become really velnerable among buildings within the city. Only after Korean army got upperhand in armored vehicle by deploying high-end K1 tanks, cousins of US M1, South Koreans could see several detour routes being constructed. From Seoul, DMZ is merely within the one-hour drive.

    2. Another factor in explaining the “republic of apartments” within Seoul and without is the collusion between politics and construction companies, which are usually a branch of ruling ‘chaebol’ conglomerates. One book entitled (“Republic of Apartments”) was published by a French geographer in France and Korea. I received award from the French Geography Association or something. Samsung, Hyundai and LG are constructing apartments as well as electronic gadgets and cars.

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