2022 Shortlist

Land of the Extinct, how does the local city collapse?

Country/area: South Korea

Organisation: KBS(Korean Broadcasting System)

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 04/04/2021



KBS has set up a special coverage team to carry out this project. Reporters specializing in exploration reports, data analysts with high expertise, and web developers and designers with excellent senses participated. I was consulted by academia while carrying out the project.

Project description:

This project is an in-depth analysis of the decline in population in local cities. It mainly dealt with the current address of the collapsing local city and the harmful effects of population concentration in the metropolitan area.

During the five-month production period, reporters covered 17 cities at home and abroad, and analyzed vast amounts of demographics with experts. Related content was produced not only on web pages but also on documentaries.

Impact reached:

The coverage period is 5 months, 17 coverage sites, and 1,000km travel distance. Long-term on-site coverage has pointed out the problem of population decline in local cities. This is the first press release to cover the circumstances of individual cities in detail and implement them in videos.

Data analysis was also conducted. Based on the population data for special purposes that allow advanced statistical analysis, we looked at the problem of population decline in local cities with experts. Based on the analysis results, we also created “a map of vacant houses across the country,” “a map of Korea’s Catogram,” and “a 3D map of youth population movement.” This is a case of high expertise in accessing statistical sources and finding social implications.

We also paid attention to the web page. We have built a three-dimensional digital storytelling that integrates text, photos, graphics, videos, and 3D data maps, not just one-dimensional digital storytelling that puts text and photos. Furthermore, the web page was designed to move in response to its own actions such as scrolling and clicking, increasing the reader’s experience. Writing was also adjusted in consideration of user interface.

Techniques/technologies used:

This project used Create-React-App (CRA).

① A map of vacant houses across the country
This is a 2D interactive map that shows the stages of vacant concentration as of 2019 by dividing them into ‘eup’, ‘myeon’, and ‘dong’ units. Users can enter or select an area they are curious about to obtain an empty concentration rate in that area. It was made using Leaflet.

② Local cities extinction Risk Map (2019)
This is a 2D interactive map that shows the stages of the local cities extinction index as of 2019 divided into ‘eup’, ‘myeon’, ‘dong’ units. Users can enter or select a region they are curious about to obtain a local cities extinction index for that region. It was made using Leaflet.

③ Korea’s Cartogram Map (1966-2020)
It is a catogram map that distorts the map area according to the population. Users can visually grasp how the population density in the metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas has changed with the times by selecting the year. It was made using D3.js. The number of people in each region is proportional to the size of the area.

④ 3D simulation (2019) showing the movement of the youth population to the metropolitan area.
There is a 3D simulation that shows the movement of the youth population during 2019. Users can choose the area they are curious about and get the percentage of the youth population who moved from that area to the metropolitan area. It was created using kepler.gl and redox.

What was the hardest part of this project?

It was the hardest to get the data that was the core of the coverage. More sophisticated and detailed data were needed to show detailed population changes in Korea over the past half century. However, the population data released by the National Statistical Office to the public were not detailed. Accordingly, reporters secured the necessary data through a microdata integrated service channel (special purpose data capable of advanced statistical analysis) provided by the National Statistical Office to experts.

Recruitment of team members was also difficult. Data journalism cannot be carried out by reporters themeselves. We need the help of many people, including data analysts and web page developers. However, at the time of production, there were no analysts to handle the data, no developers to create web pages, or designers to decorate the pages. The production cost was not enough, so we couldn’t entrust the project to an outsourcing company. In response, we mobilized connections from college juniors to co-workers to find team members to participate in the project.

What can others learn from this project?

This page is a report on the problem of population decline in local cities. It contains specific social phenomena, causes, problems, and alternatives that can be derived at this point. Therefore, other media reporters can use this page to find out the current address and cause of the population decline in local cities in Korea, and how it negatively affects the whole country. Furthermore, we can see alternatives that can be derived at this point.

It is also worth referring to data visualization techniques. The most effort I put into this time is the map. I tried to design it so that I could see the changes in the population over half a century at a glance, and I also increased the user experience so that I could experience the changes in the population of the region where I live. In particular, the catogram technique is an example of a problem in which the population is too concentrated in a specific area as a data visual. It would be nice for other media reporters to refer to these cases and visualize them with population data in the future.

Project links: