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The Korean Peninsula is protruding southward from the Northeastern part of the Asian Continent.

Its land area excluding the portion of North Korea amounts to 99,373㎢ and includes approximately 3,200 islands of various sizes.

Habitable land, however, is only a quarter of the total land area where 47 million people inhabit as of 2002 thus making Korea one of the most densely populated nations on the earth.As Korea underwent rapid modernization and industrialization since the 1960s, it caused urban population to soar up to almost 87.2% in 1998. Such a rapid change consequently placed enormous pressure on the country's limited land resources. Partly because of efficiency-oriented economic development policies, the nation's socio-economic activities have become spatially polarized as represented by the excessive concentration in the Seoul Capital Region and serious depopulation in rural areas.

The resulting regional disparities and imbalanced settlement patterns impede to realizing territorially balanced development and equitable distribution of welfare.In October 1978, the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS) was established to address these spatial policy issues.

With the enactment of the Act on the Establishment, Management and Promotion of Government-Sponsored Research Institutes in 1999, KRIHS has become one of research institutes under the supervision of the Korea Council of Economic and Social Research Institutes (KCESRI) which is a supervisory body specially created to oversee those research institutes involved in the fields of economics and social studies under the Prime Minister.

The main tasks of KRIHS are to develop long-term and short-term plans and policies to lead to more efficient use of land resources and to restructure imbalanced spatial structures. KRIHS carries out various research projects in the areas of national territorial development, environment, regional and urban development, infrastructure, land use, transportation and geographical information system.