Opportunity to land Seoul City-provided jobs, a Seoul version of New Deal

Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon at an explanatory session concerning Seoul City-provided jobs

Seoul City is offering jobs under the Seoul New Deal Job Opportunity Program 2013. By recruiting 3,902 people, the City will strive to recommend to private businesses participants completing the program (4~9 months). The program will include lectures on humanity and social economy. This program is different from the jobs offered by local governments through public programs in the past since it will help participants land long-term job opportunities.

The types of jobs offered will confirm what I said earlier: 3D indoor space modeling, clearing of fallen trees in the forest, survey of the status of roads and manholes, protecting children from vehicles when they go to school in the morning and go back home after school, team of body guards helping women return home safely through back alleys at night, child care coordination, taking care of children at households where both parents work, taking care of the handicapped or senior citizens, lifelong education for the local residents, survey of local history and traditional everyday lives carried out by Seoulites including stories about important figures, festivals, rites, and plays, activities as young innovators, energy watchers, etc. You will agree that many of them show potential to be linked to long-term jobs for young people.

Those 18 years old or older and who live in Seoul may apply. For more details, including information on the documents to be submitted, please visit the homepage of Seoul City or that of Seoul City-run Job Plus Center (http://job.seoul.go.kr/). You may also call +82-1588-9142 (Job Plus Center) or +82-2-120 (Seoul Call Center, Dasan 120).

On finishing the second round of Seoul Mayor’s on-site office session

Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon listening to what the local residents have to say

I spent two nights and three days (March 18 ~ March 20) in Gangseo-gu and Yangcheon-gu, meeting local residents and discussing pending issues there as part of the Mayor’s on-site office session. Indeed, it was an efficient way to solve issues related to local residents’ everyday problems. While discussing one issue after another, they and I could see that a face-to-face session can solve many problems right on the spot.

While visiting the two autonomous districts, I reached a decision regarding constructing a botanical park the largest of its kind in Asia in Magok, Gangseo-gu, turning Gukhoe-daero between Gangso and Yangcheon into an underground road, and creating an ecological park above it. The botanical park will be another landmark of Seoul complete with lake and marsh as a treasure trove of biodiversity. The park to be formed above the underground road will become an environment-friendly square where people enjoy nature and spend time riding bikes. This will also be a leading visitor attraction.

In compliance with the local residents’ request, Seoul City will improve flood control and drainage facility in Sinwol-dong and conduct a reality survey concerning the plan for the construction of a new town as refurbishment of the existing district in the same area. Concerning local residents’ complaints on the light and noise pollution caused by Mokdong Ball Stadium, Seoul City will launch a governance organization with a view to settling the problem.

I realized that a special measure should be taken concerning the noise pollution associated with Gimpo Airport. Seoul City has turned a blind eye to this serious problem for decades. Seoul City will conduct an overall survey and make a noise map aimed at setting up the necessary countermeasures and recommending them to the central government. As for victims of hearing impairment, they will be treated by the municipal hospital in Seoul.

I have pointed out the need to take care of specific problems faced by local residents and to try to understand their difficult situations by putting ourselves in their shoes. Seoul City will do its best to solve their problems, meet their specific needs, and find ways to improve the situations of the local communities. I for one will keep on making such efforts. I wonder where the next destination of the Seoul Mayor’s on-site office session will be.

Seoul City will remain responsive.

I just finished the sessions for direct talks with local residents held in Gangseo-gu and Yangcheon-gu. I will do my best to find the best solutions to matters that local residents and I discussed and those I heard in the streets, checking them meticulously. Seoul City will always remain responsive.

[Letter sent to the Seoul Mayor #1]
Dear Mr. Park Won Soon,
I know you are a very busy man, and you probably do not remember me. A couple of months ago, I wrote a letter to you asking for the withdrawal of the plan for the rearrangement of the No. 150 bus route, including the section that went through my village. You said that the matter I raised will be duly taken care of. The city official in charge also responded to my opinion kindly. Seeing how a local resident’s opinion was handled in Seoul City, I thought I would not mind even if my opinion was not accepted.

Fortunately, my opinion was accepted, and the 150 bus route was not changed in a way that would affect my village. 🙂 I could see that Seoul City officials really listen to the opinions of the local residents, and that they are ready to cope with a situation flexibly. I think this is a far cry from the past when people were supposed to follow decisions made by municipal authorities unilaterally. Many officials assumed a high-handed attitude, and it was very difficult to raise an objection to a decision once it is made by them. I thought people would be much happier if municipal administrative matters were handled based on transparency, responsiveness, and accountability. Seeing how Seoul City officials listened to the complaints that my neighbors and I raised and settled the matter for us, we feel deeply grateful.

I used to take the intra-city bus service for granted, but I came to realize that I would experience a great deal of inconvenience if the route is changed in a way that would affect my village. The No. 150 bus plies the route between Gia Bridge over Hangang River and the foot of Dobongsan Mountain. I understand the route takes a little more than two hours, and that the need for the rearrangement of the route was raised considering the bus drivers’ long work hours. I hope the situation will be improved such that most of the people concerned will be happy. In this regard, I would like to suggest one thing concerning the service route of the No. 150 bus.

Will it be difficult to increase the number of drivers working for said bus route to reduce their daily work hours? If rearrangement of said route is inevitable due to the difficulty in increasing the number of drivers, another route between Geumcheon-gu and downtown should be established. If my village is excluded from the current service route, many of my fellow villagers will experience a great deal of inconvenience. Thank you for listening to my opinion. I take my hat off to the Seoul City officials working under your leadership for the new way things are handled.

[Letter sent to the Seoul Mayor #2]
Dear Mr. Park Won Soon,
I cannot find the words to thank you enough for visiting the place where we live. I wanted to meet you personally during your visit here but could not do so because the place where I am working (I am a welfare worker for the handicapped) was not included in your itinerary. A colleague of mine was so disappointed that you could not pay a visit to our facility since he wanted very much to have his photo taken with you. Nonetheless, we are glad that you went to our neighborhood and listened to what the locals had to say.

I feel a little burdened by the matters raised by the local residents in Yangcheon-gu and Gangseo-gu during my visit, but encouraging remarks such as these give me energy. I reaffirm my resolve that Seoul City should remain responsive.

A story from the Seoul Mayor’s on-site office in Gangseo-gu

You can see 7 photos of my stay in the Seoul Mayor’s on-site office in Gangseo-gu for two days and one night.
( http://j.mp/ZFR8xP )

Seoul City’s plan for the urban development of Magok includes turning Jungang Park into a first-rate botanical garden and reducing dust particles and noise in the areas near Banghwa Bridge. I hope we will be able to come up with good ideas based on the result of the survey conducted on a service contract basis. Seoul City will address difficult and complicated problems one after the other, including the earlier opening of Banghwa-ro and connection of the Gwangmyeong-Munsan Highway to the Chihyeon Tunnel.

For others, we will have to find a way that will make everybody satisfied by finding a site that will replace the current bus depot in Banghwa-dong and providing a space that can be used as children’s library and facility for senior citizens’ cultural activities. There are still many other concerns.

I would like to thank those in Gangseo-gu for the warm welcome, including the employees in the Gangseo-gu District Office. Please remember that I am always at your service.

Crime prevention through design

In 2010, I had the opportunity to stay for three months in the United Kingdom. As I was exploring cases of social innovation, I came across an idea of crime prevention through environmental design. Professor Lorraine Gamman at St. Martin’s College of Art told me about Design Against Crime, a program carried out based on research on criminals’ psychology and behavioral patterns.

One of the examples she gave me was to change the lights in a toilet to fluorescent lights. The bluish white light of the fluorescent fixture makes it difficult to find veins, thereby making drug injection impossible.

I thought it was a good idea. After I became mayor of Seoul, I decided to put into practice the idea of crime prevention through environmental design in two places: Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu and Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu.

< Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu >
– A 1.7km-long crime-infested back alley turned into a community space for sports lovers (named “Salt Way”)
– Six houses designated as Salt Way Watchers (identified with easily noticeable yellow gates and equipped with emergency bells and Internet protocol cameras)
– Walls or fences of houses painted with bright-colored paint and with pretty pictures hung with the participation of 30 households
< Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu >
– Installation of cameras aimed at monitoring students’ activities (different from surveillance cameras)
– “Stress zero zones” formed in several areas deemed to be crime-infested areas
– Application of color therapy to walls of corridors and stairs with the help of the country’s leading art designers
According to a survey carried out recently by the Korean Institute of Criminology, the back alley in Yeomri-dong, Mapo-gu, which people used to avoid at night, showed a drastic change. The rate of crime and the level of fear felt by people decreased by 9.1% and 13.6%, respectively, in five months. At least 13.8% of the people said they have come to love the neighborhood more. In particular, the people there pegged the crime prevention effects of the 1.7km-long Salt Way at 78.6% and 83.3%, and they expressed satisfaction with such.

As for Gongjin Middle School in Gangseo-gu where many students come from low-income families and education welfare indices remained low, a survey showed that the level of disorder among students and their fear of being exposed to crimes decreased by 7.4% and 3.7%, respectively, whereas 1.4% of the students said they have come to love their school life more. In fact, 27.8% showed greater attachment to school facilities than before.

Buoyed by the positive results, Seoul City plans to operate similar programs aimed at lowering the crime rate by designating three places (Myeonmok 4/7-dong, Jungrang-gu, Haengun-dong, Gwanak-gu, and Yongsan 2ga-dong, Yongsan-gu). We will expand the scope to parks, protection of women, and overall urban safety.

We also plan to launch the Crime Prevention Design Committee consisting of 14 experts, including criminal/behavioral psychologists, Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) experts, police officers, and community designers with a view to making Seoul a safer place to live in for its citizens. Professor Lorraine Gamman paid a visit to Seoul and noted that Seoul City’s CPTED programs carried out with the participation of the people are more advanced than those operated in the United Kingdom. She promised to have an article concerning this published in an international journal.

Seoul City is making an international model for crime prevention through environmental design.

Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon after signing the agreement for crime prevention efforts with the prosecution

Transparent society, advanced society

Recently, I heard very good news that made my day. Social welfare facilities in Seoul, which number more than 1,500, decided to disclose the details of their use of budget support provided by Seoul City through the Internet on a monthly basis. People have developed a prejudice against social welfare facilities due to the involvement in wrongdoings or irregularities by some of them. The decision to be completely transparent in their operations will go a long way in restoring trust in such facilities.

The facilities that will follow said decision are those engaging in activities for senior citizens, handicapped, children, women, general social welfare, homeless, and those striving to return to society or for self-rehabilitation.

I feel grateful to all of those who decided to comply with Seoul City’s guidelines. It is only natural for the details concerning the use of taxpayers’ money to be disclosed, but the reality was far from such.

I have always believed that transparency is the core of anti-corruption, serving as a barometer of the level of development of civilization in a country. The more transparent a society is, the more advanced it is. Transparency and accountability are most important in our society as we make efforts to join the ranks of the world’s most advanced societies.

In that regard, most of the official documents, materials, and database handled by Seoul City are being disclosed. I intend to make Seoul the most transparent city in the world, and I am encouraging Seoul City officials to behave confidently and in a fair and square manner. Such decision by welfare facilities is believed to be a meaningful step.

The other day, I announced a plan to have all those in charge of apartment management disclose the details of the expenses they incurred. I will do the same for all childcare centers. All these will show that Seoul City is setting an example for others to follow.

The mayor’s office in the newly built Seoul City Hall. Its inside is visible from the outside.

A Mayor Who Does Nothing

Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon engaging in spring cleaning

When reporters asked me, “How would you like to be remembered as Seoul’s Mayor?” I used to answer, “I’d like to be remembered as a Mayor who did nothing.”

Even these days, many people urge me to do something big. Even my supporters are pestering me to do something for people to remember me by, so much so that I suffered from mental stress.

In the past, Seoul mayors had ambitions to be re-elected or to run for the Presidency and thought that they needed to implement grand projects that would make a big impression on the people. Some of them caused problems as a result of carrying out a project too far. As a matter of fact, many problems I am currently dealing with are the very same problems. For the past decade, Seoul City’s debt has increased to about 20 trillion won because of such grand ambitions.

such an attempt to focus on a few grand projects that can impress people may lead to neglecting other areas. The people’s daily lives encompass diverse sectors ranging from economy to culture. None of them is unimportant, and the mayor should not neglect any of them.

I have thought that, when the people elected me as Seoul Mayor, they wanted me to put the municipal affairs back on track and fulfill mayoral duties from a reasonable, balanced perspective. I am doing my best to be a mayor that takes care of everything properly. I am looking at one pending issue after another meticulously, trying to improve the way things are handled. At the same time, I am working diligently to come up with concrete policy contents that will help realize a united city with world-class competitiveness and accomplish properly set visions.

I believe that small steps taken systematically and meticulously – like what I am doing now — will eventually make Seoul a happy and beautiful city that holds its own against other large cities in the world. Do you still want me to start some grand and impressive projects?

More efficient apartment management and extended durability

Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon at an explanatory session on how to improve apartment management

At present, around 58% of Seoulites live in apartments. Almost half of the households living in apartments are tenants, yet they are not well represented. There have been many cases of irregularities and disputes related to apartment management.

In this regard, yesterday I announced a plan to enhance the welfare of apartment dwellers with the focus on how to manage apartments in a more efficient way and thereby extend their durability. The core of my plan consists in establishing an apartment portal site that will disclose details about management expenses, accounting information, and repair and maintenance work. So far, the information on apartment management expenses, including the relevant financial statements, has remained difficult to access by members of the public. My plan requires that all accounting information, including data on 292 accounting subjects, details of repair and maintenance work, and long-term repair work, should be disclosed.

The operation of such a portal site will go a long way toward preventing dishonest acts as people will be able to conduct close checks and comparisons with neighboring apartments. The Apartment Management Support Center will provide assistance to apartment dwellers through the operation of integrated information sources and the provision of education for dwellers’ representatives, in addition to carrying out water-tight surveillance of any irregularities and suspected misdeeds.

My plan also includes giving apartment tenants (who account for 42% of all households) the right to be elected as representatives of apartment dwellers in matters related to management expenses. It also includes a way to reduce management expenses by closing loopholes and reforming the methods of making joint contracts. It also requires that power and gas meters be replaced with new ones as part of an effort to prevent miscalculations of energy expenses, which account for the largest share of apartment management expenses.

Diverse methods including the operation of an in-apartment market, the attraction of ads, and the sale of recyclable goods will be utilized to reduce the overall costs of apartment management. The adoption of a cooperative method of apartment management among a small number of households will enhance transparency and efficiency. In this way, I expect that apartment management costs will be reduced by up to 30%. Seoul City will continue making efforts to explore new ways that will be helpful to apartment dwellers.

Jedori the dolphin is returned to the sea

“In July 2011, people were shocked to read a story about the illegal catching of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, which are an endangered species, for use in dolphin shows, in a trade that had been going on for more than 20 years. Civic organizations urged that the unethical and anti-ecological dolphin shows should be stopped and the dolphins sent back to the sea. In March the following year, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon decided to comply with the request of these civic organizations. His responsible attitude was a significant move as it showed that a local government had started to treat ecological protection and animal welfare as an important matter.” – At an explanatory session held by a civic organization in Seoul in March 2013

Jedori during a training session aimed at helping it adapt to life in the ocean

The foregoing citation is part of a statement made by a civic organization which fought to get the dolphin known as Jedori returned to the sea. As the statement says, I decided to get Jedori returned to where he was caught, i.e. the sea off Jeju Island, about a year ago. Jedori is one of an endangered species, as only about 100 bottlenose dolphins live in the seas around Jeju. It is reported that the species may cease to exist by 2050.

At present, Jedori is undergoing training to learn how to feed itself before being returned to the sea at the end of June. This initiative will mark a significant turning point in our efforts to protect the ecological system and increase the numbers of endangered species. Overseas observers will also applaud our efforts to preserve marine wildlife.

Children and parents will understand our decision even if they are no longer able to see a dolphin show at the zoo. I believe that the relationship between animals and people should be reestablished on the basis of mutual respect. As Dame Jane Goodall has put it, “People can’t be happy while animals are unhappy.” On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, Seoul Grand Park will be reborn as a place that ‘heals’ humans, as a zoo where happy animals greet us warmly, as a new educational space for children, and as a center for animal reproduction and species preservation.

Visitors to an exhibition held at Seoul Citizens’ Hall to bid goodbye to Jedori.

KakaoTalk is a prevalent trend even among Seoul City officials.

Information technology is dominating the scene everywhere. It has even changed the way Seoul City officials communicate with each other. The following dialogues were exchanged between Seoul City officials this morning via KakaoTalk.

Vice Mayor: “Last night, I saw the TV news on forest fire-stricken areas across the country. Strong wind appears to make matters worse. In Seoul, the Urban Safety Office and the 25 district offices should remain on the alert, including warnings to mountain climbers.”

Director of Fire&Disaster Headquarters: “We are checking our firefighting equipment. Our personnel are making regular patrols to prevent forest fires. We are ready for prompt collaboration with the Korea Forestry Service and the district offices in the event of a forest fire.”

Director-General of Green Seoul: “Officials of the Nature & Ecology Division stay in the office until 9:00pm. Those of the Parks & Landscape Division are also ready until 9:00pm at district offices. After that time, the whole situation is controlled by the officer on night duty. We will check the emergency alert system again.”

Chief of the Urban Safety Office: “We are automatically on fire alert at this time every year. Forest fire alerts are issued with the melting of winter ice and snow.”

Vice Mayor: “Isn’t it necessary for the Green Seoul Bureau to put the district offices on fire alert? Last year, there was a forest fire for which arson was suspected, right?”

Director General of Green Seoul Bureau: “I ordered all personnel concerned at the district offices to stay on the alert this morning. I’ll double check their status, including the members of the Nature & Ecology Division at the City Hall and its affiliated offices.”

Seoul is surrounded by four inner mountains and four outer mountains. That means that Seoul City officials should remain on the alert in spring in case of fire. It’s good to know that those in charge are doing their best to prevent forest fires. Let’s take every possible precaution against fire.

A forest fire drill scene

dated March 8, 2013 / Subject: Women’s safety

Residents of Geumcheon-gu, Seoul pushing ahead with the safe village campaign

Do you know what day it is today? It’s International Women’s Day. As such, it’s necessary to point out once again that women in this country are in a sorry state. It’s a terrible shame that the country ranks second among OECD countries in terms of gender crime rates, while Seoul is one of the cities with the highest rates of sexual violence. Faced with this depressing situation, Seoul City announced a plan to take extra measures for women’s safety on March 6. The first thing we will do is provide a service consisting of round-the-clock protection of single women’s homes in cooperation with a security business for a monthly charge of 9,900 won. We aim to provide the service to 3,000 households and expand it to up to 10,000 households by 2015. Under the service, wireless detection sensors installed in households will set off an alarm in the event of an attempt to break into a house, whereupon the security business will immediately dispatch security officers to the house.

Furthermore, we will install 409 additional surveillance cameras in elementary schools and see-through fences in 57 schools, as well as installing new street lights or replacing existing ones with much brighter LED lights in 4,000 spots in neighborhood back alleys. A total of 5,444 lights in six public underground parking lots, including those close to Yeongdeungpo-gu Office Station and Hangnyeoul Station, will be made much brighter. The number of areas where the special door-to-door delivery service for women is available will be increased from 11 to 50 by the end of the first half of this year and to 200 by 2015. We will also start providing bodyguards for women returning home late at night (10:00 PM – 1:00 AM). The guards (two guards serving as a team) will be ready at the designated subway station or bus stop in time for the woman’s arrival and accompany her to her home either by foot or by car. We will select 500 guards by the end of March, and will launch the service on a trial basis in ten areas in May, as part of Seoul City’s job creation program.

Another service will be created in which people will deliver goods to households. They will be obliged (employees who deliver goods to households will be obliged to report directly to the police any emergency situation they happen to spot in the course of performing their job. A flag will be attached to their motorcycles to help people identify them easily. Seoul City will also sign agreements with pizza businesses for a pilot run of the service. Self-defense village guards will be operated this year in ten villages and will be expanded to all villages in Seoul by 2014.

We will also take protective measures for women using public transportation, including the following: installation of surveillance cameras and emergency bells in every subway car; deployment of safety guards at every subway station; and recruitment of subway store staff as surveillance personnel. The number of subway security guards will be increased from 150 to 250 this year.

The Subway Safety App, which can be used to request help in the event of danger, will be developed by September of this year and will enter into service on Subway Line 2 first, followed by Lines 1, 3, and 4 by 2014. The late night (midnight – 5:00 AM) bus service will start in April on two routes (Gangseo~Jungnang; Gupabal~Songpa) and will be expanded to eight routes by July. The number of users of the safe return home taxi service, which transmits information on a female taxi user to her guardian, will be increased from 220,000 in 2012 to 300,000 by 2014. We will continue to develop further protective measures for women in the near future.

Bus stops will be relocated to spots closer to subway stations.

Many of you have experienced difficulty due to the distance between subway stations and bus stops.

Seoul City inspected 1,754 bus stops in the vicinity of subway stations and found that many of them were located unnecessarily far away from subway stations. As a result, we decided to relocate 96 bus stops to spots within 100 meters of a subway station for greater public convenience in consideration of local conditions. The bus stop for the no. 302 and no. 3216 buses in front of Konkuk University, for example, was 230m away from Exit 3 of Children’s Grand Park Station of Subway Line 7. Now, it will be relocated to a spot in front of KCC Park Town, i.e. 170m closer to the station.

The process will also require many bus stops’ names to be changed. As regards the bus stop in front of Hyundai Department Store close to Cheonho Subway Station, buses stop in spots close to the bike rack, which causes inconvenience to both bus passengers and bike rack users. Thus, the bus stop will be relocated to a spot about 10m away. The locations of the stops for red buses close to Subway Hapjeong Station and the nearby stop for airport buses will be exchanged with each other, with the numbers of users and waiting times taken into account. Meanwhile, the bus stop in front of Yonggang-dong Community Service Center will be relocated to a spot 20m away in consideration of its proximity to a pedestrian crossing. Concerning bus stops at spots 300m or more away from a subway station, a total of 46 new bus stops will be created.

Information on the relocated and newly installed bus stops will be provided on the TOPIS homepage in due course. We will continue to strive to make Seoul the world’s No.1 city for public transportation. Thank you.

TOPIS (Seoul Transport Operation and Information Service) homepage (http://topis.seoul.go.kr)