A streak of yellow paint and an emergency kiosks saving lives—this is where Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) starts. Despite its potential, its need is rarely recognized within Korea. Now that it is part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government Design Policy Department’s model projects, its practicality can be observed. The applications of CPTED are unlimited. Korea University (KU) campus is not an exception, as its safety conditions can undoubtedly be improved upon.
The concept of CPTED mainly consists of three elements: surveillance, access control, and community building. Its application concentrates on sur veillance, access control, territorial reinforcement, activity support, legibility, management, and maintenance. Each of these is applied through the design change of the space itself or the installation of a control system. The most frequently used CPTED method is to use the “eyes on the street” by opening and clarifying spaces to enable easy observation of who is doing what.
Starting in the United States (U.S.) in the 1950s, CPTED stemmed from environmental criminology. It has been researched and applied in many areas around the world—United Kingdom (UK) is one nation that has benefited from it. After widely utilizing CPTED, its crime rate decreased by 40 percent in the decade from 1995 to 2004. The UK’s Center for Design Against Crime (DAC) research proved that CPTED that can be more effective than installing more closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs).
CPTED in Korea
Although the concept was introduced in the 1990s, CPTED research in Korea started around 2010. By then, several murders had illustrated the need for better personal safety. With the Seoul City New Town project begun by former mayor Oh Se Hun, the research started making progress. Currently, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has established a Design Policy Department to run model CPTED projects in different regions of Seoul.
▲ Professor Kang Seok-Jin. Photographed by Lee So Young.
Professor Kang Seok-Jin (Architecture, Gyeongsang National University), the head of the Korea CPTED Association, has taken charge of the project. The model projects that are now in their fifth trial have been deemed successful, though it is early to make hasty conclusions. Some examples include changes in the Gwanak-gu Haengwoondong. Here, based on the regional characteristic where one-person female household takes the majority of the population, a female-friendly environment was created by installing person-toperson crime prevention designs.
The first step in CPTED is to acknowledge the importance of the site. Experiencing and examining the site firsthand make the real difference. Local residents’ opinions must be taken into account as well because they provide important information regarding the spots vulnerable to crimes. Looking at the data, especially crime rates and residential information, is another part of the process in putting together a custom regional strategy.
▲ Night streets of Anam-dong. Photographed by Kim Ji Won.
CPTED in Schools
Currently, CPTED is mandatory in Korean schools. For elementary schools, CPTED mainly aims to prevent outsiders from trespassing. Guardhouses as well as entrance control systems are emphasized. For secondary schools, elimination of blind spots on the campus is important for preventing student misbehavior and bullying. Here, CPTED reconfigures wasted spaces into places for rest and exchanges opaque doors for transparent ones. Colleges and universities, however, are not required to implement CPTED.
Moreover, although most universities are located in suburbs due to large campus areas, not many safety measures have been implemented—the campus, the buildings and the residential area around the campus are all vulnerable to person-to-person or intrusion crimes. In the case of KU, for example, although located in a relatively sparsely populated area at the edge of Seoul, many areas within and around the campus are left unprotected. Kang, a KU graduate, pointed out a few areas that need implementation of CPTED.
CPTED for KU
First, the residential area around the College of Political Science and Economics Building needs better prevention of crimes that target one-person households. To prevent intrusion crimes, the building’s first floor entrance main gate should be secured. Delivery men use that entrance to come and go so installing a two-sided postal box could be a solution. Furthermore, to prevent gas meter-reader related crimes, the meters could be moved to the exterior of the building. Gas pipelines should also be hidden inside the wall or should be covered.
▲ An emergency kiosk at Squirrel Trail. Photographed by Kim Ji Won.
Crimes that target females are also a concern. For this, the roads around and the paths on campus need more and different lights. Currently, there are only few orangey lights installed around the West Gate. On the way from the People’s Square to the Centennial Memorial SAMSUNG Hall, there are barely any light except for the basketball court. Kang adds that “dim but densely installed lights are better than bright and sparsely installed lights.” One thing to note is to keep them from becoming a source of light pollution—the lights should be placed knee high.
Improving the currently applied crime prevention measures is also important. For instance, according to Kang, not many are aware of the emergency kiosks on campus. They are neglected, and whether they really work is also unclear. These emergency kiosks should not only be connected to the 24 hour emergency call center but also include a siren and a warning broadcast to eliminate an immediate threat. Kang raises concerns that although some of the points that he made are ones that have been raised since 2008, when his adviser and coworker Professor Lee Kyung Hoon (Department of Architecture) gave an in-depth interview with the KU Weekly, not much has changed since then. Kang requested the administration recognize the safety problems with the environment around KU.
▲ Night streets of Anam-dong. Photographed by Kim Ji Won
Nonetheless, he argues that the most important role is left to the government or at least to the city government. Not much can take place if there are no changes in the governmental policies and regulations that impose obligations. Incentive systems should also be considered. Without proper policies and economic support, the area that one CPTED project can cover becomes extremely limited. Although the Seoul Cityled project is not big enough, there are even more limited projects being promoted without professional advice. This is why only meaningless murals surge around the country.
Currently, there are some moves by the police to actively incorporate CPTED into their guidelines, and several city governments are also recognizing its importance. With greater actions by the government, some real advances in crime prevention can be accomplished. Lives can be saved.