Coordinates: 37°23′06″N 126°38′42″E / 37.38500°N 126.64500°E / 37.38500; 126.64500
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International Business District
Songdo International Business District
The six Central Park Towers
The six Central Park Towers
Songdo is located in South Korea
Location of Songdo in South Korea
Coordinates: 37°23′06″N 126°38′42″E / 37.38500°N 126.64500°E / 37.38500; 126.64500
CountrySouth Korea
Provincial levelIncheon
 • Total53.4 km2 (20.6 sq mi)
 • Total167,346
Time zoneUTC+9 (Korea Standard Time)

Songdo, officially known as Songdo International Business District (Songdo IBD), is a smart city[2] built on 600 ha (1,500 acres) of reclaimed land along Incheon's waterfront,[3] 30 km (19 mi) southwest of Seoul, South Korea. It is connected to Incheon International Airport by a 12.3 km (7.6 mi) reinforced concrete highway bridge called Incheon Bridge. Along with Yeongjong and Cheongna, it is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.[4]

The Songdo a smart city features amenities across the district. Homages of architectural hallmarks, including New York City's Central Park and Venice's waterways, will also be incorporated.

Many of the buildings were constructed as LEED-certified space, the green building certification by the United States Green Building Council.

Today, Songdo is a community of 167,000 residents located within one of three Free Economic Zones (IFEZ) in Incheon, South Korea. The project has been approximately 86% completed. Aside from residential areas, the location is also home to a Global Campus, Pharma Hub, Startup Center, and international organizations such as the Green Climate Fund.[5]


Songdo from 29th floor observation deck of G-Tower
Songdo by night
Architecture in Songdo IBD
The Artwin Prugio Towers

Built on 600 ha (1,500 acres) of land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea off Incheon, about 56 km (35 mi) from the South's capital Seoul, Songdo district was one the largest private real estate development in history[citation needed]. By its completion date in 2015, the district was planned to contain 80,000 apartments, 5,000,000 m2 (50,000,000 sq ft) of office space, and 900,000 m2 (10,000,000 sq ft) of retail space.[6] The 65-floor Northeast Asia Trade Tower became South Korea's tallest building. Computers have been built into the houses, streets, and offices as part of a wide area network.[7]

The Songdo IBD was part of former President Lee Myung-bak's effort to promote green and low-carbon growth as an avenue for future development after 60 years of reliance on export-oriented manufacturing. The nation launched a $38 billion economic stimulus package in January 2009, with over 80% of the total earmarked for green investment. The Framework Act for Low Carbon Green Growth, passed by Korea's National Assembly in 2010, increased this to $83.6 billion spanning five years. Under this initiative, the Songdo IBD is being developed as a sustainable city with more than 40% of its area reserved for green space, including the park of 40 ha (100 acres), 26 km (16 mi) of bicycling lanes, numerous charging stations for electric vehicles and a waste collection system that eliminates the need for trash trucks. Also, it is the first district in Korea to have all of its major buildings on par or beyond LEED's requirements.[8]

Three additional foreign university campuses opened in 2014, for a total of four total universities located within an international business district some 60 km (40 mi) from Seoul, including the first overseas university that opened in Korea, the State University of New York, Stony Brook.[9] The schools will be funded by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, the Incheon Free Economic Zone and the Incheon Metropolitan Government. The development is part of a $35 billion effort by the Korean government to form an international business district that houses competitive universities from around the world. In spring 2014, George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia) opened its Korean campus in Songdo to support undergraduate academic interests and professional development programming for local corporations. Additionally, University of Utah anticipated opening a satellite campus in March 2014 with several American bachelor's degrees offered in Social Sciences, along with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics[10]


Though the city is not yet[as of?] complete, Songdo IBD is home to 106 LEED certified buildings that fall under 12 projects, or 22 million sq ft of LEED-certified space. This number includes several ‘firsts’ for LEED in Korea and Asia, including the first LEED-certified hotel in Korea (the Sheraton Incheon), the first certified residential tower in Korea (Central Park 1), and the first certified convention hall in Asia (Convensia).[11] The 50,000 sq ft clubhouse for the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea which hosted the Presidents Cup in 2015 is also certified. Songdo IBD alone represents 40% of all LEED-certified space in South Korea.[12]

In addition, Songdo IBD utilizes a pneumatic waste disposal system.[13] This means no garbage cans on street corners, and no garbage trucks. Instead, garbage is thrown into pipes that will suck the garbage underground, disposing of waste, and recycling what can be recycled.[14]

There are also 25 km of bike paths and charging stations for electric vehicles throughout the city.[13]

UN Green Climate Fund[edit]

In October 2012, Songdo IBD was selected to become the home to the United Nations Green Climate Fund (GCF). One of the reasons for selection is the environmental-friendly practices that were incorporated into the city's foundation.[15] Being selected for the GCF marked the first time a large global environmental agency would be hosted in Asia.[16]

A parallel between The GCF and the World Bank can be drawn, as The GCF offers financial aid to developing countries in their quest to combat climate change. South Korea beat out 5 other competitors for this opportunity, as part of former South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak's initiative for green growth in Korea.[17] The other competing countries were Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Namibia, and Poland. According to Chief Secretary Kim Sang-hyup, the win for selection came at only 10 days before the decision was due, and mainly because the United States decided to lend its support to Korea.[16]


Songdo IBD has wide roads and a high number of bicycle paths and walkways. The district is served by buses and by Incheon Metro Line 1, with six stations (another will be added in 2021), some with elegant interiors and interior sky-lit vistas. Although travel to Incheon International Airport is quick with the 12.3 km Incheon Bridge, transportation via subway to Seoul is less direct and requires multiple transfers but two Red class[18] commuter buses offer direct routes to the capital city.

Environmental impact[edit]

In 2003, Birds Korea called for a halt to the reclamation project due to concerns of potential losses of important tidal flats. Prior to reclamation, the Songdo tidal flats had supported several threatened waterbird species, and provided a staging ground for migratory waders as they traveled between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.[19]



Songdo International Business District, Incheon.

Songdo International City seen from Gyeonggi Province[edit]


  1. ^ IFEZ 인구통계 현황(2020년 6월말 기준) Archived 2020-10-25 at the Wayback Machine. 인천경제자유구역청. 2020년 8월 7일 확인
  2. ^ Lichá, Alexandra (2018). ""Green" and "Smart" Cities Diffusion: The Case of Songdo, Korea". International Perspectives on Translation, Education and Innovation in Japanese and Korean Societies. pp. 223–240. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-68434-5_15. ISBN 978-3-319-68432-1.
  3. ^ Henry, Christopher (14 March 2011). "Songdo International Business District / KPF". Arch Daily. Archived from the original on 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2012-05-13.
  4. ^ Chohan, Usman W. "The Ubiquitous City – Songdo (송도)". McGill University. Archived from the original on 2014-05-14. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  5. ^ "Songdo International City".
  6. ^ Online, Asia Time. "Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News". Archived from the original on 30 November 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ "New Songdo City: Atlantis of the Far East - Asia, World - The Independent". The Independent. London. 2009-06-22. Archived from the original on 2017-11-05. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
  8. ^ Lobo, Rita (December 9, 2013). "South Korea's hi-tech city: Songdo". Business Destinations. Archived from the original on October 25, 2019. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Park, Eun-jee. "SUNY Stony Brook brings math and science expertise to Songdo campus". Korea jongang Daily. Archived from the original on 30 September 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2013.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ 상희, 배. "송도 글로벌캠퍼스에 내년 외국대 분교 3곳 문 열어". yanhapnews. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Korea's Songdo International Business District - U.S. Green Building Council". Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Championship golf course secures Songdo IBD's sustainable status - U.S. Green Building Council". Archived from the original on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  13. ^ a b "South Korea Conceptualizes the Ultimate Smart City - NewCities". 28 December 2014. Archived from the original on 18 December 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  14. ^ Bethea, Ross Arbes and Charles (27 September 2014). "Songdo, South Korea: City of the Future?". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 7 May 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Built-from-scratch Songdo starts coming to life". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  16. ^ a b "". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  17. ^ "Songdo to host UN climate fund". 21 October 2012. Archived from the original on 1 February 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
  18. ^ "IFEZ Global Center > Daily Living > Transportation > Bus". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  19. ^ Last call for Songdo Archived 2010-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Birds Korea
  20. ^ "Inha Global Knowledge Complex @ Songdo International Business District". Inha University. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2017.

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