“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2012/09

A city-funded and share-based policy for improving citizens’ quality of life in Seoul

Seoul proclaimed its Sharing City Seoul Project in 2012. It is seen as social innovation measures that have been designed to create new economic opportunities, to restore reliable relationships, and to reduce the wasting of resources with a view to resolving urban economic, social, and environmental problems all together. Notably, while the existing city policies focus on the construction of primary infrastructures such as roads, parking areas, schools, and libraries; the city’s policies focus on the construction of secondary infrastructures such as spaces, objects, talents and other unused resources in order to boost the utilization thereof. Furthermore, Seoul is set to implement other policies that will respect and promote private-sector capabilities, as well as policies that will require the public sector to open public resources that are to be shared with citizens.

Sustainable Development Goals

Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Metropolis Award

This project was awarded the 'Metropolis Award' in 2014 in the following category: honorable mention.

Seoul , South Korea

Size and population development
2011: 9,736,000; 1990: 10,544,000; 2025: 9,867,000; 2010-2015: -0.02% / year

Population composition
declining population due to high living costs and aging population; religions: Christianity and Buddhism

Main functions
Capital City, national and international economic hub

Main industries / business
finance, IT and electronics, food and beverages

Administrative structure
25 districts ("gu"), 423 neighbourhoods ("dong"), 13,787 "tong", 102,796 "ban"

In past decades, overpopulation and urbanization in Seoul have led to housing, transportation and parking shortages, pollution, as well as resource overuse. These are issues that other municipalities face, but they’re amplified by Seoul’s population density. Therefore, Seoul’s policy for becoming a sharing city aims to encourage the private sector to lead the way in exploring different areas for sharing. For this purpose, the city is endeavoring to create infrastructures for the Sharing City Seoul Project in order to promote and support sharing activities that are undertaken by the private-sector. Thus, the Sharing City Seoul Project has four main objectives:

• First, sharing allows the city to gain more benefits with fewer or less resources since it enhances the usefulness of resources.

• Second, when the sharing economy becomes reinvigorated, it can create new jobs and added values.

• Third, sharing can contribute to the recovery of the disappearing sense of community, increasing interpersonal exchanges and restoring broken relations since sharing promotes a trust-based, reciprocal economy.

• Fourth, sharing contributes to resolving environmental problems created by excessive consumption.

Many actors are involved in the project, from citizens and NGOs to private companies. The City of Seoul decided to implement several initiatives for all types of participants.

First of all, the City is laying the groundwork for the promotion of sharing resources. Seoul enacted and proclaimed its sharing promotion rules on December 31, 2012 to designate the organizations and enterprises for sharing resources, provides the administrative and financial support for them.

The Seoul Sharing Hub has been constructed on June 26, 2013 to show the pool of online platforms developed by various enterprises and organizations for sharing in order to boost the convenience for citizens in accessing the information.

The City supports organizations and enterprises for sharing as well. In December 2013, Seoul designated 37 private enterprises and organizations that are qualified for sharing to boost their public reliability and citizens’ participation in sharing activities. These designated entities are eligible for using the Sharing City Seoul Project brand identity.

Regarding the participation of citizens, lectures on Seoul’s economy of sharing by representatives of enterprises and organizations for sharing were conducted once a week from January 10 to April 11, 2013. The lectures were held in the conference room of Seoul Metropolitan Government Hall together with Wisdome, which is an enterprise for sharing. This enterprise has been designated by Seoul to help citizens better understand the economy of sharing, the Sharing City Seoul Project, and to get them to participate in these initiatives. A total of 1,207 people attended this event.

The City of Seoul works closely with private companies to develop public-private partnerships and thus to finance the project.

The initiative has certified 50 sharing projects that provide people with an alternative to owning things they rarely use, and given grants to a number of these projects. Certified projects range from local car–sharing company SoCar, and websites like Billiji that help people share things with their neighbours, to schemes that match students struggling to find affordable housing with older residents who have a spare room. One of the great results of the project is the increasing participation of citizens.

Moreover, Seoul has opened up almost 800 public buildings for public meetings and events when they aren’t in use and Sharehub has organized a large public engagement and education campaign with conferences, seminars, reports and a book.

The Sharing City, Seoul Project receives generally huge support from all actors involved. However, some Seoulis remain skeptical about this new sharing process but presentation meetings organized by the City help them better understand the logic of this new policy.

According to the initiators of the project, the Sharing City is proving to be a model for other cities in South Korea, even at its early stage. Representatives from Gwangju Metropolitan City and Busan Metropolitan City for instance visited Seoul to learn about the city’s sharing program and have implemented sharing policies in their own cities. The Seoul government hopes yet to exchange and collaborate with other cities abroad to activate sharing.

On the Map

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Want to know more about this project?
Contact our community manager.

Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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