The Seoul Metropolitan Government convened the 2011 Seoul Town Meeting at the main conference room in City Hall on December 9. In attendance at the event were 100 international residents from different countries and various social classes, including students, members of Seoul’s foreign community, migrant workers, and foreign spouses (married to Koreans) who originate from Mongolia, Vietnam, and the Philippines,
In his welcome remarks, Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon said, “In order to achieve the dream of creating a ‘Seoul where everyone lives together in harmony with each other,’ I will listen to the valuable opinions of foreign residents, irrespective of their race, religion and nationality.”
At the Seoul Town Meeting, which has been held on an annual basis since 2000, participants discuss diverse issues related to their quality of life in Seoul, including education, medical services, residential environments, transportation, tourism and culture. Some of the suggestions and questions raised at the meeting are actually reflected in city administration to help address the inconveniences faced by international residents, as the meeting plays a key role in efforts to increase their satisfaction with life in Seoul.
As many as 17 of the 76 suggestions made by foreign residents have been reflected in city administration over the past five years. Projects to assist international residents that have already taken effect or are currently being implemented include the legislation of an executive ordinance to prevent damage from second-hand smoking, establishment of a reporting system for jeonse (home rental based on a lump sum key deposit) and wolse (monthly home rental) transactions, issuance of debit cards that can be used overseas by foreign residents, construction of an internet reservation site for plays and movies, arrangement of spaces for foreigners’ art clubs, and the construction of an integrated website to enable foreigners to reserve sports facilities.
Notably, this year’s Seoul Town Meeting incorporated interactive communications with citizens and foreign residents who could not take time off to attend the meeting, enabling them to view the event webcast live (http://tv.seoul.go.kr) and leave comments on the meeting’s themes via social network services such as Twitter and Facebook.