Future Assignment of Territory Reunification
Yoon Jun-hyeok (Department of Architecture, 3rd year)
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Hosted by Chosun Ilbo, the Korea Planning Association, and the Korea Developer Association, the Future Assignment of Territory Reunification contest was held from May 5th to August 8th this year. Having gotten through roughly three months of fierce competition, Han Jang-hee (Architecture, 3rd year) and Yoon Jun-hyeok (Architecture, 3rd year) of Hanyang University (HYU) won the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Prize on September 29th. This contest was significant in that it was held for the first time, and participants had to imagine the cityscape of North Korean cities after becoming reunified with the South. Their task was thus to create their own city plan of Pyongyang accordingly. The requirement that the participants needed to meet was to envelop a thorough understanding of the North Korean city's economical and sociological situation, under the presumption that reunification will take place in the near future.
Preparation and Development
The work Han and Yoon submitted to the contest was You, I, and Us – Primary Unification Stage of North Korean Collective Residential Area. Yoon remarked that he had always been interested in collective residential areas. “Since the topic was so unique and we had studied North Korea before, we decided to apply for the contest,” said Yoon. “Han and I took a Residence course in our sophomore year. During the semester, we were able to learn about the diverse styles of living in North Korea and what kinds of structures the people lived in.”
Han and Yoon decided to apply for various contests during the summer holidays early this year. Han found out about the Future Assignment of Reunification of Territory contest, the notice for which had been posted in June. Yoon stated that they started preparing for the contest from July onwards. “We had just over a month to prepare, which didn't leave us with enough time. We had to study liberal humanities and the physical, materialistic aspects of the environment at hand in order to design our model,” said Yoon. “We studied deeply on the political models of North Korea for about two weeks and through that, we had our concept set up in three days.”
Since this wasn't work that could be done alone, Yoon needed his partner, Han, to cooperate as fully as possible alongside him. However, Han had to leave in August for Singapore to study there, which was one week before the contest's due date. They had both agreed on planning ahead for the model design, which was the hardest part. “Floor plans or drawings are something that can be shared via means of networking, but the designing was something that had to be decided and finalized together. We wanted to finish up on the design and then add more quality to it, but that didn't work out quite well at the time,” admitted Yoon. He also commented that they were able to finish up on the design of the housing part, but regrettably, not enough meetings were held to actualize the rest of the facilities they had devised.
You, I, and Us – Primary Unification Stage
Han and Yoon's model lacked in academic references, and they had a hard time finding sufficient sources online. With references from the Residence course and with the help of Professor Shin Geom-soo, who taught the course, they were able to find several books and theses on North Korea. Through the books, they found information on a variety of topics, ranging from societal issues to economics. Through this, Han and Yoon were able to develop their ideas on the livelihoods of North Koreans and their habitual abodes.
“Most apartments in Pyeongyang are quite empty, unlike the way we normally think. Nobody is really living there. Also, they don't have elevators since they are recognized by the nation as a waste of electricity,” explained Yoon. Realistic houses that North Koreans live in are slums, and houses that seem 'normal' by South Korean standards are for flaunting wealth. “I went to visit the Geumgang Mountain in North Korea when I was in middle school, and found that the houses there are grouped together in order to monitor one another under the authoritarian regime,” added Yoon.
From what he had seen and learnt, Yoon developed the model into a more community-friendly one than the existing homes in North Korea. They had to create a scenario on what would happen after reunification and design houses accordingly. “We thought that grouping homes together and providing a communal space as co-housing would allow North Koreans to feel more unified among the South Koreans,” said Yoon. The conventional housing model in Pyeongyang today is set with only one entry route for four to five houses in order to be able to watch who goes in and out. instead, Han and Yoon created different doors for each houses. As for keeping the groups of houses together, Yoon elaborated that it was for making the module a more closely-knit society. They thought that separating each homes would not create a sense of community as effectively.
Having won such a huge prize, Yoon commented that it had been a great opportunity in the sense that they were able to study North Korea thoroughly. “Han and I were so excited to win the prize. We decided to use the prize money (5 million won) to go on a vacation together,” said Yoon. As for future goals, Yoon is planning to get a job in the field of architecture for hands-on-experience in the field, and study abroad afterwards. “I would like to design a building at HYU with my name on it,” said Yoon. “Hanyangians would be proud to have an alumni-built structure at the university. I want to try designing various different buildings that will inspire people as well.”
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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