In 2000, the population of Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, was only 191,000, about one-fifth of Seongnam. Yongin and Pyeongtaek, with 386,000 and 356,000 people, respectively, were no match for the booming new cities in terms of population or urban infrastructure. Twenty years later, these lagging cities emerged as protagonists in changing the population map of Gyeonggi-do, overtaking the first wave of new cities, including Seongnam-Goyang, Bucheon, and Anyang, one after another, thanks to the ‘semiconductor backwardness zone’.
As of April this year, “Su-Yong-Go-Hwa” (Suwon, Yongin, Yang, and Hwaseong) has taken over the position of the “Big 4” (in order of population) in Gyeonggi Province, which was held by “Su-Seong-Go-Bu” (Suwon, Seongnam, Yang, and Bucheon) in 2000. This is a shift in urban leadership from the first wave of new cities to the so-called “semi-tax zone” (semiconductor + reverse tax zone) cities near semiconductor factories. Additional investments in semiconductors and electric vehicles are expected, and some analysts believe that the demographic landscape of the economy will completely change in 10 years.
○Population ranking for semiconductor investment
According to Gyeonggi-do on April 23, the province changed the order of cities and counties from “Suwon-Yongin-Goyang-Seongnam” to “Suwon-Yongin-Goyang-Hwaseong” through an administrative decree (ordinance) in early April, which was revised in April 2021. Hwaseong City surpassed Seongnam City (949,000 people, including foreigners) for the first time in terms of population (937,000) at the end of last year. Hwaseong’s overtaking of Seongnam, which was promoted to city status in 2001, including Bundang, the poster child for the first new city, has become a hot topic in the province. “It marks the end of the era of the first new towns, which served as the ‘egg white’ that wrapped around Seoul, and a shift in population composition toward industries and jobs,” said a senior Gyeonggi government official.
This contrasts with the situation in the first wave of new towns created in the 1990s, including Goyang Ilsan, Bucheon Jungbu, Anyang Pyeongchon-Sanbon (partially), and Seongnam Bundang, which are facing population stagnation or decline. Seongnam’s population peaked in 2005 (983,000), Bucheon’s in 2010 (875,000), and Anyang’s has been declining since 2005 (625,000). Goyang City, which has a larger area, has seen a decline in population after peaking at 1,079,000 in 2020-2021.
○Hwaseong and Pyeongtaek, the ‘One Million Cities’
Yongin City has developed rapidly since 2000, when Samsung Electronics invested heavily in its Giheung Campus. Its resident population grew 2.7 times from 386,000 in 2000 to 1,074,000 as of the end of April, and when foreigners are included, it has surpassed Goyang City since 2021.
Hwaseong is even more dramatic. Samsung Semiconductor’s Hwaseong Campus, which began operations in 2000, and its hinterland, Dongtan 1 New Town, have been the main drivers of the population influx. The small city, which had a population of 191,000 in 2000, just before it was promoted to city status (2001), is eyeing a “megacity” of more than 1 million people (including foreigners) by the end of this year.
It is the only city in the country with two major industries, semiconductors and automobiles. Hyundai Motor Group, which announced a 24 trillion won investment in electric vehicles last month, has set its sights on Mars as a production base. Already, Hwaseong’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) ranked first among cities and counties in the province in 2011, and its 2020 GRDP of 81.9 trillion won is 1.7 times that of the second-ranked Seongnam (46.8 trillion won). “With the development projects of Dongtan 2 New City, Bongdam-Jinan District, and Songshan Green City, the number of residents will exceed 1.2 million by 2035,” said a city official. It is expected to surpass even Suwon메이저놀이터 (1.19 million people as of the end of April), which has maintained the top spot in terms of population in the province.
Pyeongtaek’s population has been surging, centered on the Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus in Godeok-dong. From 356,000 in 2000, the population surpassed 584,000 at the end of last month, with a target population of 900,000 by 2035. “If Samsung Electronics finalizes its planned investment in up to six factories and the development of Pyeongtaek Port goes smoothly, we will become a ‘one million city’ in 2035,” said Pyeongtaek Mayor Jang Jang-sun.
Gyeonggi-do’s strategy is to use the southern Gyeonggi belt as a base for industry and urban planning.
“Korea’s knowledge industry started in Gangnam, Seoul, and traveled south to Suwon, Seongnam, and Yongin, but how to continue it to Hwaseong and Pyeongtaek is the biggest concern,” said Yoo Tae-il, director of the Gyeonggi-do Office of Self-Governance and Administration.