By Linda Poon
The Songdo International Business District, as it’s formally known, was built from scratch, on reclaimed land from the Yellow Sea. The 1,500-acre development sits an hour outside of Seoul and is officially part of the city of Incheon, whose proximity to the international airport and the sea makes it both a transportation hub and the gateway to Korea.
It’s the heart of the greater Songdo city, and from its conception in 2001, the IBD was envisioned as a sustainable, low-carbon, and high-tech utopia. For Koreans, the city would have all the perks of Seoul—and more—but without the capital city’s air pollution, crowded sidewalks, and choking automotive traffic. And for foreign corporations looking for access to Asian economies, Songdo as a whole would be a glitzy business capital to rival Hong Kong and Shanghai. “The city aims to do nothing less than banish the problems created by modern urban life,” as one 2009 story declared.
What it doesn't have: enough people.