Flexibilization through Metropolis: The Case of Postfordist Seoul, Korea


Predicated upon a regulationist reformulation of postfordism, this paper attempts to explore the political economy of Korea’s recent industrial restructuring which has led to a postfordist‐like regime of accumulation. To do this, this study takes the Seoul metropolis as a case study. The underlying assumption is that the postfordism of Korea obtains its specificity through the metropolis of Seoul where a host of enabling conditions for postfordist regulation are concentrated. By looking into the process of Seoul becoming the locale of Korean postfordism, a more serious concern is to draw in the consequences which the metropolitanization of postfordism creates for urban society. It is assumed that in the course of postfordist urbanization Seoul’s social and political life has been to a great extent enriched, but at the same time is deeply ‘schizophrenic’ due to its being exposed to two contrasting ultra (or post) modern and premodern socio‐economic dynamics simultaneously. This urban schizophrenia (or bipolarity, in more common terms) derives from the processes in which Korea’s postfordism operates within the context of ‘semi‐peripheral capitalist economy’.