Andrew Stokols writes on global urbanization and international development with a focus on China and Asia. In China, he has worked as a Princeton-in-Asia Fellow at a rural development NGO and was a Fulbright Scholar studying urbanization in western China. His work has been featured in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Foreign Policy. He is currently a Masters in Urban Planning candidate at Harvard GSD.
Korea
My Seoul Neighborhood: Yeonhui

My Seoul Neighborhood: Yeonhui

Strolling amongst quiet alleys and happening upon small boutique stores, organic groceries, and well-designed cafes…we must be in a city like New York, San Francisco, London. But Seoul? Yeonhui-dong, my neighborhood, is just such a place. It’s not exactly on the tourist map, but its not that out of the way—just a 10 minute walk...
Songdo style: How wise is Korea’s ‘smart city’?

Songdo style: How wise is Korea’s ‘smart city’?

“Songdo’s model may not be the panacea for all the world’s urban ills, but it remains a work in progress” Aug 26,2014   Left: Songdo’s new office towers and residential units rise behind Central Park, a green centerpiece of the 1,500-acre new city modeled after New York’s famous urban park. Above: Children admire deer in...
Fan Popo's fight against Chinese homophobia

Fan Popo’s fight against Chinese homophobia

August 12th, 2014 | Author: Andrew Stokols Photos by: courtesy of Fan Popo Fan Popo might not look like a typical activist, or a filmmaker, for that matter. He sips calmly on an O.B. beer while standing on stage in flip flops and shorts at Seoul’s Queer Film Festival, taking a photo with audience members...
Exploring Korea's "Smart City"

Exploring Korea’s “Smart City”

After living in China, I thought I had become inured to the massive scale of urban development, glossy investment ads promoting developing zones and other schemes, and the general fever for anything modern, glassy, and futuristic. But Korea is home to an urban development scheme that outdoes even China in ambition and scope: the Songdo...
From Harvard to Seoul

From Harvard to Seoul

BY ANDREW STOKOLS A renowned Harvard University professor of Chinese history ended his summer class at Kyung Hee University in an unlikely way: with an apology. “My generation has utterly failed to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” he said ominously. Then he closed on a more hopeful note: “This is unfortunate for you [younger...
Exploring Seoul's Urban Form

Exploring Seoul’s Urban Form

Looking at a city’s urban form, or its general layout of physical features (streets, block sizes, buildings), can tell us a lot about a city: how it developed, how walkable it is, what era it dates from. In his book Great Streets, UC Berkeley urban design professor and former SF Director of City Planning  Allan...
LGBT film explores coming out in China

LGBT film explores coming out in China

June 19,2014 Fan Popo Coming out to one’s family is a common rite of passage for gays and lesbians around the world. But China’s queer community faces unique challenges, including a one-child policy that puts pressure on sons or daughters to provide their parents with grandkids. With the nation’s rapid development, however, social attitudes are...
Gangnam Style or Gangbuk Style?

Gangnam Style or Gangbuk Style?

Oppa is Gangnam Style..the very word Gangnam is enough to conjure up the jarringly repetitive techo beat and the addicting yet now gag-inducing horse-riding mime that has become the world’s most-watched youtube video. But in addition to that, for me, the song (if we can call it a song) is a perfect starting point for a...
Future as Past: Zaha Hadid's New Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Future as Past: Zaha Hadid’s New Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Finding myself lost within the sinuous darkened hallways of Zaha Hadid’s new Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul, it is easy to see how Ms. Hadid could state casually that it was not her responsibility to consider the condition of the exploited migrant workers building her World Cup Stadium in Qatar, nearly 1000 of whom have...
Zizek in Korea?

Zizek in Korea?

South Korea is perhaps an unlikely destination for one of the world’s foremost leftist intellectuals, Slavoj Zizek.  This is a man who gives lectures in ratty white t-shirts and baggy pants, who routinely mixes dense critical theory with obscene bathroom jokes, and who has been criticized for provocative comments such as “Hitler was not violent...
Seoul: Cute Urbanism

Seoul: Cute Urbanism

Two weeks after arriving in Seoul, I’m ready to write my first post on the city that has rapidly become known as one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, stylish cities in the world.  Only a decade or so ago, Seoul had a similar reputation as Beijing currently has: polluted and industrial.  Today, it presents a...