Gwanak-gu, Seoul, the Republic of Korea

2023-09-28 10:59:13

Korean Youth Capital, Gwanak-gu



· Population size: 487192

· Population Growth Rate(%): 0.14

· Surface Area (sq. km): 29.6

· Population Density (people/ 16459.2

· GDP Per Capita (U.S.$): 33393

· GINI Index: 0.33

· URL/Webpage of your local government and your initiative:

· Main Source of Prosperity: industry educational infrastructure



Gwanak-gu, located in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, the youth population (aged 19 to 39) accounts for 41%, which is the highest in the country. Accordingly, many young artists reside in Gwanak. Young people gathered in Gwanak-gu from all over the country to enjoy benefits such as a large amount of studios and convenient transportation. Youths have not played an active role as community members for the past few decades, nor have they been a priority in urban policies. Youth issues, however, have emerged as a grave social issue recently. Against this backdrop, Gwanak-gu set up a new division for youth policy, first in Seoul, and carried forward differentiated policies.


Under this policy, Gwanak-gu has activated public-private partnership governance and various youth organizations to reflect youth's needs in policies and develop them into an active partner in policy-making. It helps young people become independent, not frustrated, by providing tailored programs, such as the strengthening of start-ups and employment capability training, housing stability, and psychological assistance. Gwanak-gu has also made efforts to secure spaces necessary for youth activities through collaboration with private organizations.



In 2018, the UN announced a strategy called "Youth 2030" and presented priorities to solve the problems of young people around the world. To keep up with this trend, Gwanak-gu set up a new division for youth policy for the first time as a municipality in Seoul in 2018 and enacted an ordinance to support youths. Furthermore, South Korea enacted the "Framework Act on Youth" in 2020, on the basis of which Gwanak-gu established the "Framework Plan for Youth Policy" and has been systematically implementing the policies.



In South Korea, ranked at the top of the suicide rates of OECD countries, social alienation and fragmentation caused by increasing single-person households was a material social issue. Amid COVID-19, depression and suicide became severe; Gwanak-gu was no exception.  Gwanak-gu has the highest youth population (41.6%) in the country, half of whom are single-person households. In this light, it was urgent to let them feel that they are a member of the society. Thus Gwanak-gu committed to getting young people involved as active players of the community.


This policy is a project to support young people in Gwanak-gu to actively participate in the community and to gratify their various needs. Gwanak-gu seeks change in the following three pivotal areas. First, Gwanak-gu guarantees youths' participation opportunities and rights through participatory governance and activating communication with the general public. Second, Gwanak-gu supports youths' independence through customized policies, including jobs, education, and housing. Third, Gwanak-gu gives energy to young people by securing spaces necessary for youth activities and supporting their cultural activities.    


The "Youth Network" is the governance in which young people discover agendas and propose projects by themselves. A total of 90 meetings have been held over the past 3 years. The "Youth Policy Committee" composed of Gwanak-gu officials, young people, and experts deliberates and develops youth policy agendas. In the phase of policy implementation, Gwanak-gu entrusts the running of youth spaces to organizations such as the "Gwanak Foundation for Arts & Culture," and pursues projects in collaboration with various private actors, such as planning festivals with artist groups. Beneficiaries of such projects subject to substantial benefits are young people aged 19 to 39 residing or working in Gwanak-gu. The projects include job offerings, housing assistance, and various cultural programs.


First, hundreds of administrative workforces including employees from 14 divisions of the Gwanak-gu Office, public health centers, and the Gwanak Foundation for Arts & Culture, human resources including local youths, artists, and merchants, and technical resources of private companies including Samsung Electronics were put in.


Second, the budget for 44 youth policy projects of Gwanak-gu was about KRW 14.5 billion (USD 10.8 million) as of 2023; besides its budget, finance was raised by subsidies from the central and metropolitan governments, investments from private companies, and funds.


In addition, public rental houses were continuously provided by the government, and spaces for various cultural activities were given to youths in collaboration with private space operators.



The youth policies of Gwanak-gu are innovative. Gwanak-gu has been running an organization for youth policies for the first time in Seoul. Gwanak-gu has significantly strengthened the organizational function by setting up the "Youth Culture Bureau"   for the first time as a municipal government in the country in 2022.


Furthermore, Gwanak-gu has upgraded its policies by providing various youth governance systems, such as Social Dining and Earned Income Incentive Programs. The Social Dining Program was jointly designed by Gwanak-gu and Youth Network, to address social isolation of young single-person households. It has assisted youth with healthy diets and helped them form social networks through cooking classes. The cooking classes, which have been operated 40 times during 3 years, have been participated by about 1,000 youths. The Earned Income Incentive program was jointly designed by Gwanak-gu and the Youth Policy Committee. The program gives back to the working young population twice the amount of their savings to make a round sum of money. The program was planned by the Seoul Metropolitan Government for Seoul citizens, but many young people in Gwanak-gu failed to benefit from the program due to the limited budget. In an attempt to assist them in their savings for their future, Gwanak-gu and the Youth Policy Committee, jointly designed the Earned Income Incentive program for the first time as a local government. Thanks to Gwanak-gu s financial aid, 120 youths in Gwanak-gu became beneficiaries of the program in 2023. Also, Gwanak-gu has strived to create specialized youth activity spaces.


In particular, the "Youth Culture Zone" is a public-private partnership project that provides culture and art activity spaces for young people by using private culture spaces (15 locations as of 2023) and gives operators subsidies. It is much more innovative considering the fact that it is a cultural platform that not only reduces construction and maintenance costs but forms youths' networks at the same time.



The sustainability of policies has been raised through the activation of youth communities and policy networks. Gwanak-gu has operated 3 offline bases for youth activities, 25 Youth Culture Zones, utilizing private spaces. The participants of in programs has subsequently increased. In addition, the number of venture businesses that moved into 16 start-up facilities has increased more than 12 times, with annual sales increasing more than 24 times. Expansion of youth infrastructure and cultural opportunities has considerably contributed to improving youths' independence ability and overall quality of life.


The resident registration demographics of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (, central government, are useful in sensing changes in the youth population of Gwanak-gu as they provide population status by region, gender, and age. Statistics Korea ( provides various indicators of the economically active population by region and enables analysis of employment and unemployment data of young people in Gwanak-gu. In the evaluation phase, surveys are conducted targeting beneficiaries of various youth policies or program participants to analyze the satisfaction and effectiveness of the policies.


Gwanak-gu established "Sillim 3 Room" and the "Gwanak Youth Center' where various activities such as employment mentoring and networking are available. The "Youth Culture Zone," which was constructed with a small amount budget by using private spaces, and raised diverse opportunities for culture and arts, is a model of innovative public-private partnership.


Directly affected residents are young people aged 19 to 39 who live or work in Gwanak-gu; there are more than 200,000 as of present. Thanks to the benefits of convenient transportation, affordable housing, Seoul National University, and start-up support facilities in Gwanak-gu, the number of young people moving into the city is steadily growing. The number of young people in Gwanak-gu increased 2% in 2022, compared to 2021; it is expected to grow likewise in the future.   



Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions for all