Session 2: Commoning the City

Yeonjung Ahn


Yeonjung Ahn studied media engineering and mastered in social economy. She worked as a cultural planner in Hongdae-ap region in Seoul, South Korea then founded a social enterprise called “Norrizzang” in which people share an upcycling makers spaces in pursuit of transition of city dwellers’ roles from consumers to producers. Under her leadership, the group performed a bottom-up space making project, Bibil base, with citizen in once abandoned Mapo Oil Depot that they squatted by that time. Until 2020, Yeonjung was in charge of representative in Seoul Youth Hub for three years before went on a sabbatical year in 2021. While in the Hub, she supported Korean youth to pursue an independent and alternative life and created a cooperative network of Activist Researchers in Asian countries. 

Project Description

Bibil base(it means a base that can be relied on) is a cultural production place created by voluntary citizens in the abandoned common land of Seoul Metropolitan city, Mapo Oil Depot, where an upcycling makers group, called Norrizzang, had occupied settled in 2010. The Bibil base project was initiated to keep the place against a public urban regeneration project proposed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2014 and encompasses a series of stories how cultural producers from many different backgrounds gathered, occupied the venue, and achieved effectiveness. 

I will starting with questions how the citizen-led interim space project like the Bibil base project can create a niche in the market which is driven by contemporary mega projects and profit-oriented real estates. Based on the personal experiences of conducting Bibil base project for four years, this paper will deal with the stories to create alternatives in the low-growth and precarious society focusing on the possibilities and values of community, time, and space. It also describes the process how autonomous citizens congregated to resist administrate-driven urban developments and finally produced the *creative transitional space. In so doing, this paper will discuss the ways to mobilize gather and share resources; campaign strategies; conflict managements; compromise and cooperation; and what was achieved and lost during the Bibil base project. 

  *The author uses the creative transitional space as a reference to a space scheduled for development that citizens can propose and operate through various civic cultural activities. In this space, citizens can imagine and realize a new lifestyle through activities that allow trial and error and do not deny the possibility of failure.