Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

City & Regional Planning

First Advisor

Richard Weller


As climate change intensifies, coastal communities face ever-increasing risk. The South Korean government has vigorously researched national vulnerability to climate change and established several adaptation programs. Despite a number of meaningful achievements, however, there has been no examination testing the effectiveness of these national efforts. In this context, this dissertation evaluates the Korean government’s vulnerability indication system and adaptation programs in order to better understand and respond to climate change and coastal communities in South Korea. First, I compared the Korean vulnerability indication system to the international model produced by the United Nations Environment Programme. Through modeling and spatial regression in a geographic information system, this study reveals that the current national indication system does not explain past water disasters; the global model is more effective for identifying hazard patterns in South Korea. Second, through field research on Busan and Gangneung, I discovered significant gaps between national policies and local practices. In the absence of a bottom-up planning process that includes regional research and public hearings, Korean policies and climate change adaptation programs have often ignored local conditions and even increased hazard risks. Based on the findings of this quantitative and qualitative research, I offer planning recommendations to the Korean government and specific adaptation strategies for vulnerable coastal communities in Busan and Gangneung. The comparison to advanced global research and validation in this dissertation will enable the Korean government to more objectively and accurately understand current vulnerabilities and better prepare for climate change and related future uncertainties. In-depth regional ecological studies that encompass both biophysical and sociocultural processes and inclusive planning that incorporates local opinions will facilitate the establishment of more resilient policies and implementation programs. This study will assist in achieving the ultimate goal of enhancing global coastal resilience by connecting international research to local practices.


Available to all on Friday, August 09, 2024

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