We Can Make the Future Better Only by Remembering the Past and Correcting our Mistakes

“In J’accuse, the French writer Emile Zola said: ‘By all I have now, by the name I have made for myself, by my works which have helped expand French literature, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. Dreyfus is innocent. I stake my life on it—my honor.’”

These words are from the speech I gave at the concert, held on October 9, 2012, for the speedy recovery of Kang Gi-hun and to learn the truth about his case. And my words have now proven to be true, historically and legally.

The weight of the last 24 years has turned
a robust young man into a shadow of his former self, weak and ill,
as he fought against the state violence and fabrication of his case.
It was such a brutally long ordeal to endure with only the words “Justice will prevail” as comfort.
How can he get those 24 years back?

Even now, we should seek out the truth, make those responsible apologize for what they did, and make sure no one else is made a victim of the state authority.
We can make our future better only by remembering the past and correcting our mistakes.

I wish for the speedy recovery of Mr. Kang Gi-hun,
who endured so much pain and loneliness for so long.


Opening of the “Collaborative Cultural Market” along the Hangang River

Fellow citizens, go to the market!

On May 23, the Jamsugyo Bridge will be cleared of traffic for the hosting of a farmer’s market, selling all kinds of agricultural and fishery products directly from the farmers and fishermen.

You could pick up some Korean beef and deodeok from Hoengseong, ganoderma mushrooms from Pyeongchang, beans and grains from Danyang, dried spring greens from Gangwondo, and other delicious, eco-friendly agricultural and fishery products, including rice, cabbage, meat, fruit, vegetables, and processed foods, at up to 20 percent below standard market prices.

In particular, Korean beef from Hoengseong, Daegwallyeong, and Gapyeong will be sold in a special vehicle in Banpo Hangang Park near Jamsugyo Bridge at very affordable prices, and all sales booths accept credit cards as well.

This farmers’ market is called the “Collaborative Cultural Market,” and is held by the Seoul Metropolitan Government with the participation of a total of nine local governments of cities and provinces that are all located at different locations along the Hangang River. The market will be held on Jamsugyo Bridge and in Banpo Hangang Park on the May 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The nine cities and provinces include Gangwon-do Association, Chuncheon-si, Hoengseong-gun, Yeongwol-gun, Pyeongchang-gun, Inje-gun, Gapyeong-gun, Danyang-gun, and Gochang-gun, a special guest city that is not located along the Hangang River. I hope you enjoy the wide variety of excellent products from farms and fisheries, as well as the genuine kindness and generosity of our regional citizens.

If You Could Turn Back Time …

If you could turn back time,
to what time would you like to go?

I changed my KaFaT (Kakaostory, Facebook, and Twitter) profiles
to the time I wish to go back to the most—the time when my mother was still alive.

When I ate, my mother used to say,
“I’m so glad to see you eat. It makes me feel full just to watch you eat, but you have to make sure that others are eating as well.”

At the time, I thought she meant I should look out for my friends and family.
But now, I understand that she meant I needed to care for my neighbors.

The day she passed away,
I made the trip from Seoul to the hospital in Busan,
where she was waiting for me with her eyes open.
So I was able to stay by her side until the moment she passed.
It’s still heartbreaking to remember how she thought about her child
even at her deathbed.

Before being mayor,
I was a husband,
and now, I am a father.
Still, I would like to turn back time even just a little bit
to make my mother a nice warm meal,
and be a more affectionate son.

All children regret
not having done more for their parents
when they were still alive.
I wish I had gone to see her once more, taken her out to a meal once more, and said something nice to her once more.
I feel consumed by regret.

If your parents are still alive,
go pay them a visit or give them a call.
Do it every day if you can.

Before you become a bad son like I was,
who couldn’t even give his mother a call
or send her a letter.

With this understanding, I will serve the father and mothers of Seoul with greater devotion.

#ParentsDay #ParkWonSoon #Carnation #Regrets

“Enforcement Decree of the Sewol Ferry Special Law” Passed

I attended the Cabinet meeting where the “Enforcement Decree of the Sewol Ferry Special Law” was passed, despite the lack of agreement of all parties involved.

This makes me deeply disappointed and frustrated.

My statement in opposition of the decree now only remains as a matter of record.
“How much have we changed since the Sewol Ferry disaster?”

Although it’s a bit long, please read the new enforcement decree
and let people know what it really involves,
as the press has only reported the fact that it was passed.

On November 19, 2014, the Sewol Ferry Special Law was enacted, and today, the Enforcement Decree of the Sewol Ferry Special Law was put before the Cabinet. However, I believe the victims’ families as well as all Korean citizens are still deeply worried and troubled by the Sewol Ferry tragedy.

The truth behind the tragedy needs to be ascertained in order to rebuild the State, which the President also said after the Sewol Ferry disaster. To this end, we need to create an enforcement decree that will reveal the truth of the tragedy in accordance with the Special Act.

Although improvements were made to the original enforcement decree proposed by the government, the investigation is to be carried out by designated government officials, and the subcommittee for the special investigation committee lacks the authority to direct the investigation. Therefore, the people are gravely concerned about the fact that the enforcement decree infringes on and restricts the independence of the committee and the objectivity of the investigation.

In addition, the people are disappointed and frustrated that the goal of “establishing a safe society” pursued by the Special Act, has been excluded from the enforcement decree.

The fact that the enforcement decree had been passed without sufficient agreement between the special investigation committee, which has a direct interest in the tragedy and the investigation, is further adding to the concern.

The Special Act was enacted with the consent of all parties and the trust of Korean citizens, who hope for a new Republic of Korea. Therefore, we need an enforcement decree that allows the special investigation committee to carry out its investigation freely, without unnecessary restrictions, thereby realizing the goal of the Special Act. The government and political circles must remember that they are here to serve our citizens, and therefore must accept the demands of the citizens.

#SewolFerry #ParkWonSoon

Hope Starts with Families

I recently received the message below.

After reading it, the word “family” lingered in my mind for quite a while.

Pain and healing both begin with families.
As such, I will root for the youths of Ansan, who began their journey of hope from within their families.
I love “Ansan.”

Dear Mayor,
My name is Kang Gyeon-hyeon, and I live in Ansan.
First, I would like to tell you that I’m forever grateful to hear that you are still concerned about the Sewol Ferry tragedy and are helping people who have been affected by the tragic accident.

I know you are very busy, so I will get straight to the point.
Some youths in Ansan have started a small project to talk about the “hope of Ansan.”
Instead of explaining this in words, I would like to share the following video clip with you.

In May, which is Family Month, I hope that you will listen to the song of Ansan’s youths, whose message is that family is the beginning of all hope.

I Will Work Hard to Make Seoul a Safe Place for Children to Play.

I will work hard to make Seoul a safe place for children to play. In April, I shared a story about the “Yellow Carpet Project” developed and implemented by Seoul citizens.

I’ll be paying a visit to some of these “yellow carpet” spaces to meet and learn from our citizens. You can watch it on Live Seoul (tv.seoul.go.kr) at 2 p.m. and share your thoughts through the website’s chat window.

I’ll be waiting to read your opinions!

Concert by Legendary Musician Paul McCartney

Yesterday, legendary musician Paul McCartney gave a passionate performance at Jamsil Olympic Stadium. At Sir McCartney’s invitation, I attended the concert alongside Korean celebrities, such as Yun Do-hyun, Park Chan-wook, and Bae Cheol-su.

Before the concert, I had the opportunity to meet Sir McCartney and talk to him for a while. He showed great interest in Seoul’s policies on eco-friendliness, climate change, as well as its policies for vegetarians.

I told him about the Sewol Ferry tragedy and asked him to offer some words of consolation to the families of the victims, and he wrote “Be strong” and “Love” on the postcards to commemorate the Sewol Ferry tragedy. In these difficult times, I hope that this serves as some small consolation to the families of the Sewol Ferry victims as well as all Korean people.

Rereading a Journal Entry from a Year Ago

Recently, I reread this journal entry from one year ago.

Fellow citizens, you must have been worried and surprised to hear about the subway accident today.

As the mayor of this city, who bears the great responsibility of keeping our citizens safe, I feel deeply ashamed for what has happened.

After hearing about the accident,

I ordered the injured to be taken to the hospital immediately,

and provided instructions to achieve a fast recovery and resume normal operations,

as well as to minimize the inconvenience to our citizens during rush hour by arranging alternative means of transportation.

Then I headed to the scene of the accident.

Thanks to our citizens, who stayed so calm and considerate

of each other following the accident,

everyone was safely evacuated from the area.

When I heard about how they handled the situation, I was so proud of all our citizens.

Also, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the injured, who had to walk through that dark tunnel, and their families.

Believing that the best way for me to honor the citizens who so heroically endured such a crisis was to ensure proper medical treatment for the injured, resume normal operations of the subway as soon as possible, and prevent such an accident from happening again by investigating its cause thoroughly, I couldn’t leave the site of the accident and stayed in the situation room.

Once again, I apologize for having been unable to fulfill my duty, as the mayor of Seoul, to keep our citizens safe. In the future, I will work harder, always keeping in mind that our citizens are safe only when all of Seoul is safe.

Tomorrow morning, the subway will resume normal operations.

Early this morning, I paid a visit to the Metro,

and inspected the station and trains in the interest of our citizens.

Although we “locked the door to the stable after we lost the horse,” there is still much to do.

I will work hard to make sure we don’t “lose the horse” again.

In politics and administration, as it is in life,

we “remember only when we record.”

This is the way Seoul responds to crises.

#Sangwangsimni #ParkWonSoon #Metro

“Yun Bong-gil Rose of Sharon”

At the age of 24, Yun Bong-gil sacrificed his life for our nation.

Now, 83 years later, we plant a rose of Sharon bush from his birthplace

at his grave site to honor the hero who helped save our nation.

The “Yun Bong-gil Rose of Sharon” will grow based on our love for our country and bloom in our hearts. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule, we will plant and tend one rose of Sharon bush for each of our country’s patriotic martyrs, five in total, starting with Yun Bong-gil and including Kim Ku, Yi Bong-chang, Baek Jeong-gi, and An Jung-geun, in Hyochang Park, where their graves are located.

Afterwards, we will collect 33 cuttings from each of these bushes, plant them, and give them to the descendants of these patriotic martyrs, as well as to elementary, middle, and high schools in Seoul.

To our neighboring country, which has not repented its past, there is probably nothing more terrifying than seeing us record and remember its atrocities.

On your way home from work today, think about what Joseph Choi (20), an undergrad student, asked Japanese Prime Minister Abe, who visited Harvard University on the 27th of this month:

“I apologize in advance if my question comes off as provocative, but it has to do with a topic that weighs heavily on my heart. As someone with ties to South Korea, I know that the comfort women issue has been a source of contention between my country and yours…In the face of [so much evidence], do you still deny the Japanese government’s explicit involvement in the subjugation of hundreds of thousands of women into coerced sexual slavery?”

#YunBong-gil #ParkWonSoon #JosephChoi

Today is Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s Birthday

Today is

the birthday of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the Duke of Loyalty and Warfare.

We call Admiral Yi Sun-sin, “Seong-ung,” meaning “great hero,”

as he devoted his life to fighting for our country in times of crisis.

Now, 470 years after his birth, we gather at Gwanghwamun Plaza

and ask him for the wisdom to overcome the crises and challenges we now face.

Politics that disregard the hearts and minds of the citizens

and our neighboring country who does not repent its past atrocities

continue to break our hearts.

In honor of the Duke of Loyalty and Warfare,

it’s time for us to collect our composure and “move like the Great Mountain,”

as Admiral Yi once said.

#YiSun-sin’sBirthday #YiSun-sin #ParkWonSoon

The Stories We Want and the Stories We Absolutely Need

I’ve been thinking that we don’t have enough stories—the stories we want, but especially the stories we absolutely need.

My fellow citizens, you have always been so kind to answer my desperate requests

to “spread the word through KaFaT (Kakao Story, Facebook, and Twitter)” or “share (by retweeting, liking, and sharing).”

Now, I would like to repay you for your efforts.

KaFaT Friends! Send us your stories:


Please send us your short but heartwarming stories.

I’ll share them with over 1.5 million friends and followers on my Kakao Story, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

We want them all—humorous and touching stories you want to share with the world,

stories desperately calling for people’s interest and assistance,

stories of gratitude you would like to share with others, compliments you want to give, programs and events you wish Seoul citizens to participate in, and many more!

I hope to receive more and more stories, stories that all of us absolutely need. To express my sincere gratitude and repay my KaFaT friends who have responded to my requests and helped me spread my stories, I
would now like to help spread your stories through my KaFaT friends.

KaFaT Friends! Send us your stories:


#KaFaTfriends_send_us_your_story #KaFaTfriends_requests #KaFaTFriends #ParkWonSoon

Let’s Pray for Nepal Together

The shocking tragedy in Nepal

has made my heart heavy.

I pray that the deceased rest in peace,

and send my deepest condolences to the injured and the families of the victims. And I pray that the rapid rescue efforts are successful in preventing any more casualties.

The central government is currently reviewing its plans to send support, and I hope that a prompt decision is made. I also hope that no more Nepalese citizens, as well as Koreans living and traveling in Nepal, come to harm because of this tragedy.

Let’s pray for Nepal together.

#Pray4Nepal #NepalEarthquake