Foreigners Living in Seoul Become True Koreans through Volunteer Work

Volunteer work at Seoul Global Center is having its heyday, with foreigners living in Seoul feeling a great sense of community and achievement through volunteer work.

According to Seoul Global Center, the biggest general foreign assistance institution in Korea operated by Seoul Metropolitan Government, they have already recorded 738 volunteer work participants this year, which is a big leap from last year’s 596.

There are 720 registered volunteers in the Seoul Global Volunteer Group, which, aside from domestic members, has 250 foreign members. They come from more than 40 countries including China (80), US (40), Japan (19), Philippines (12), Taiwan (8), Canada (8), Russia (8), etc.

To date, foreigners’ volunteer work has been limited to helping the elderly with meals in social welfare institutions and cleaning of facilities, etc.; nowadays, however, it is expanding to global cultural experience instruction posts at care centers, Seoul Metropolitan Government’s foreign language writing environment inspection jobs, and other areas that make good use of the foreigners’ advantage.

Every second Saturday of the month, foreigners introduce world culture and food to elementary school children and have recreation classes with them in the Samseon-dong Dream Tree Welfare Center. The participation of foreigners from numerous countries is earning favorable responses, since it provides Korean children with natural opportunities to meet foreigners and experience foreign culture.

Every last Friday of the month, foreigners help the elderly have meals and walk and converse with them and clean the city’s Dongbu Senior Care Center. The elderly react very positively toward the foreigners who come to work on this day, since it is a rare occasion for them to meet foreigners.

Correction efforts are also very active; a volunteer group of 22 foreigners participated in Seoul Metropolitan Government’s foreign language writing environment inspection in April and corrected 92 cases of erroneous writings on City Hall direction boards, subway direction boards, restaurant menus, etc.

For their part, foreigners reportedly adapt themselves quickly to life in Korea through such volunteer work and experience a great sense of achievement as well.

“As a foreigner, I did not have that many opportunities to come across Korean children. By doing volunteer work, however, I was able to see the differences between the Korean and Mongolian educational environments and cultures. It also felt very rewarding to introduce the Mongolian culture to Korean children. I wish to do more various types of volunteer work and meet more Korean people,” said MUNKHZAYA (22) from Mongolia, who currently attends Hansung University.

With the demand for domestic․foreign volunteer work increasing, Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to expand volunteer work dispatches to Seobu Senior Care Center, Itaewon Station, regional day care centers, and other places requiring volunteer works in the form of talent donation, effort donation, etc.

Application for and inquiries on volunteer work
Seoul Global Center Homepage: http://global.seoul.go.kr [Application]
Seoul City Multiculturalism Division (☎ +82-2-2075-4118) [Inquiry]




Seoul Metropolitan Library Marks One Year at the Service of Seoulites

October 26 marks the first anniversary of the opening of the Seoul Metropolitan Library in the refurbished building of the former Seoul City Hall.

As well as serving the usual functions of a library, Seoul Metropolitan Library also handles Seoul’s policies concerning libraries and reading culture, and functions as a library specializing in the collection and provision of information on Seoul and helping people to enjoy reading books.

Housed in a four-story building with four basement floors, the library has six data rooms and houses a vast collection of materials, including 240,000 paper books, 8,200 electronic books, 4,900 non-book materials (including DVDs), and five databases associated with the National Assembly Library (as of Oct. 2013).

A total of 2.2 million people have used the library and 57,100 people have signed up as members as of October 21, 2013.

Regarding the age of library users, 30-somethings top the list, followed by people in their 40s, 20s, and 50s. Remarkably, there are even eight users in their 90s. About 55.7% of the members are females. The members come from far and wide including Gyeonggi-do, Incheon-si, Busan-si, and even Jeju Island.

Most of the books requested by members of the public are purchased, but some special books or materials have been donated by individuals or organizations.

One individual donated a total of 10,919 books to the library, while more than 5,000 books were donated by the Literature Translation Institute of Korea and embassies or culture centers of 53 countries.

The library has also held a number of book-related exhibitions. A small second-hand bookstore run at the entrance to the library on Saturdays in June and July will be operated all year round in 2014.

The Seoul Metropolitan Library has launched a network of libraries representing Seoul’s 25 autonomous districts to promote discussion about library-related policies.

Among its many diverse activities, the library has also run a campaign aimed at increasing the number of municipal libraries; held sessions designed to educate municipal librarians; opened miniature neighborhood libraries; helped members of the public to find second-hand bookstores; and launched an integrated book search service.

It also plans to hold diverse events, including the Seoul Book Festival, in a bid to encourage the general public to read more books.




Seoul’s New Vision for 2030: ‘A Happy City Based on Communication and Consideration’

new_vision

On September 26, 2013, the city government announced the city’s new vision for 2030 – a happy city based on communication and consideration. The vision, which was devised by a large group of citizens at a two-day marathon session, will govern all the city administration’s policies and action plans for almost two decades up until 2030.

Some major global cities have expressed their own visions in simple, easy-to-remember phrases like ‘Green, Greater’ of New York City and ‘Sustainable World-City’ of London. Seoul City felt the need to produce its long-term vision and express it in a persuasive phrase, a rock-solid guiding principle that will act as a compass for the city’s journey into the future.

‘Communication and Consideration’ will be the highest values for the municipal administration of Seoul. Indeed, these values will play the central role in the city’s pursuit of its long-term goals of upgrading the quality of life of its citizens, boosting the city’s global competitiveness, building its uniqueness in the global community, and securing sustainability as a major global city.

The city government has reiterated that making Seoul ‘a happy city for its citizens’ by 2030 is its ultimate goal and asserted that the surest way of fulfilling that vision is communication and consideration.

The 2030 Seoul vision is contained in “The 2030 Seoul Plan” – the basic long-term urban development plan of Seoul – worked out through comprehensive reviews by ordinary citizens and experts from all walks of life over a considerable period of time and announced on September 26, 2013.

As the most authoritative document of the city of Seoul, the 2030 Seoul Plan will govern not only the infrastructure development plan of the city but also the key policies and action plans of the municipal government for every aspect of its citizens’ lives and wellbeing for the twenty years to come.

The 2030 plan is distinctive in several ways: citizens have been deeply involved in the preparation of the plan; strategies focus on key issues that have a direct impact on citizens’ daily life; five independent life zones will be created within the city limits through detailed practical action plans; and annual reports on its progress will be compiled and published each year. Compared to past plans, the long-term plan reflects citizens’ interests more closely and includes far more efficient approaches to the realization of its goals.

In a nutshell, the 2030 Plan is the first citizen-initiated long-term urban development plan ever introduced in Korea. Citizens from a great variety of backgrounds have taken part in the plan from start to finish, reviewing every detail with a down to earth approach.

Another prominent feature of the 2030 plan is that it is not a space-oriented urban development plan; rather, it is structured around key issues directly relevant to citizens’ daily lives.

The 2030 Seoul Plan presents measures for realizing the city’s long-term vision, namely, a happy city for citizens based on communication and consideration, focusing on the achievement of ‘five major key issues.’ In terms of the city’s spatial development, it also involves significant reforms of traditional approaches. Meanwhile, the plan strikes a balance between macro issues, i.e. the city’s enhancement of its global competitiveness and the reduction of development imbalances between districts, and micro issues which more directly influence citizens’ lives such as citizens’ welfare, culture and transportation.

The five key issues were finally chosen by ‘the Citizen Initiative Group in the Seoul Plan’ through numerous meetings and intensive discussions. Seventeen goals and fifty-eight action strategies were also selected by the group to fulfill the five key issues.

The first key issue is the realization of ‘a human-centered city without discrimination.’ The progress will be measured using five indices including ‘the rate of guarantee of the minimum income standard’ and ‘the rate of experience of lifelong education.’

The second key issue is the fulfillment of ‘a global city of shared growth, full employment and vitality.’ Progress will be measured through three quantified indices including ‘the employment rate’ and ‘the rate of creative population.’

The third key issue is the creation of ‘a happy cultural city that cherishes its history.’ The three indices to be used to measure progress include ‘degree of satisfaction with the cultural environment’ and ‘the number of culture-based facilities.’

The fourth core issue concerns the establishment of ‘a safe city full of life.’ Three quantified indices including ‘the rate of areas alienated from park services’ and ‘changes in the number of disaster victims’ will measure progress in the area.

The fifth core issue is the realization of ‘a city of communities guaranteeing stable housing and convenient transportation.’ The progress will be measured with three indices including ‘the rate of public housing’ and ‘the index of the jobs-housing balance.’

new_vision_e




Locate a Foreigner’s Lost Bag Containing 20 Million Won!

 

A telephone counselor at Seoul Call Center, Dasan 120 took an urgent call from a taxi driver, who informed her that a foreigner who rode his taxi was crying after losing a bag containing 20 million won. She then successfully helped them find the bag by mobilizing all sorts of efforts including translation service and calls to the relevant organizations.

Another citizen, who filed a civil complaint after finding a dangerous hole on an aged pedestrian overpass in his village, posted it on the Seoul Mayor’s Twitter. Two days later, he received a reply: “The hole has been fixed.” A vacant lot in a residential neighborhood in Amsa-dong, which was piled high with trash, has been transformed into a village hotspot after civil servants proactively arbitrated dispute through the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s online civil complaint service system.

The handling of civil complaints which took a long time to resolve due to authorities’ slow response and which was considered a complicated process in the past, has been accelerated, with processing done more considerately as exemplified above. The Seoul Metropolitan Government published a compilation of civil complaint resolution cases titled “Listening through the Heart, Answering by Touching the Heart,” by gathering exemplary cases of civil complaints filed and resolved in 2012 as received through phone, online, and visits and publishing them in book form as essay-type stories that are fun to read.

The new publication is characterized by its compilation of free-style, multi-dimensional essays, narrated from the perspective of the first person who is in charge of civil complaints handling and in a format that deviates from conventional publications. The book contains examples of the three major channels: “Seoul Call Center, Dasan 120,” which is highly sought after among citizens through its telephone civil complaint counseling service; “SNS-based civil complaint counseling” which is drawing attention as a new communication channel for Seoul Metropolitan Government and “SNS civil complaint/citizens’ suggestion” service, which receives citizens’ ideas and reflects them on city administration, and; “civil complaint filing via online/visits to the office,” considered the primary channel for civil complaint filing.

Above all, the “Seoul Call Center, Dasan 120” civil complaint counseling section offers cases of heartwarming dialogue between counselors at the center and citizens from the viewpoint of counselors who sincerely listen to the inconveniences and complaints faced by citizen callers even without seeing their faces and strive to address their needs. The SNS-based civil complaint counseling section carries through the vivid voices of citizens’ interesting experiences of inconveniences while living in Seoul being reported to the city government via SNS such as Twitter and Facebook and citizens’ ideas being reflected on city administration. The “civil complaint filing online/visits to the office” section describes the process wherein Seoul Metropolitan Government officials work hard to resolve inconveniences and civil complaints and communicate and empathize with citizens in a friendly manner; thus continuing to build up trust from the civil servants’ perspective.

① Finding a foreigner’s lost bag containing 20 million won (Episode Seoul Call Center, Dasan 120, as experienced by a counselor)

One day, a taxi driver made an urgent call. “I had a foreigner as passenger, and he seemed to have lost an important thing. Would you help him out?” Talking to the crying foreigner, I found out that he lost money amounting to about 20 million won and in a foreign land at that, where he can hardly communicate properly. Such misfortune hit him soon after his arrival at airport. I only wished to transform his misfortune into luck. Then, the taxi driver volunteered to extend a helping hand. While maintaining communication with me, he scrambled to find a clue; he then discovered a sticker attached to the foreigner’s checked-in luggage. Judging that the money might have been left in the airport limousine bus that the foreigner took, he traced the bus depot. Finally, the foreigner was able to find his lost money and see his misfortune transform into luck. A taxi driver who helped find a foreigner’s lost bag on the first day of the foreigner’s arrival in Korea…. Whenever he carries his bag, the foreigner will remember Seoul as a warmhearted city for the rest of his life.

② Mayor, the pedestrian overpass has a hole on it! (Case of a citizen using SNS-based civil complaint counseling service)

There is a very old pedestrian overpass in my village. As usual, I was climbing the steps to the overpass to take a bus when I spotted a big hole created by the corrosion of steel on the steps. Thinking that it could cause a serious accident, I decided to inform the authorities. I instantly thought of using Twitter. I sent a Twitter message to the mayor since I had seen other Twitter users send requests or submit suggestions. “Mayor, there is a hole on an overpass on Mallijaero road!” Days later, I was walking down the street to take a bus when I found from a distance a herd of people using a crane to fix the hole on the overpass. I then received a reply: “The hole has been fixed.” Even now, the thought that the Seoul Metropolitan Government listened carefully to what I said via Twitter makes me feel good inside.

③ Garbage dumpsite turns into weekend farm

There was an infamous empty lot in a residential neighborhood in Amsa-dong. The mountain of living and construction waste and all different harmful bugs including mosquitoes and flies was an unpleasant sight to the residents. Civil complaints were filed en masse, with the ward office ordering the owner of the land to clear the site in compliance with the “Act on waste management.” The ward office received only an answer of despair from the owner, who said he could not afford to pay more than 10 million won to have the trash removed. Civil servants could not leave the site as it is, however. Thus, they met with the land owner a number of times to discuss measures to solve the problem. They then came up with a great idea: “Let’s cultivate the site as an eco-friendly farming garden.” We cleaned the empty lot full of trash, worked hard to cultivate the land, and ended up creating an eco-friendly farming garden filled with frogs and grasshoppers. The citizens liked it because they were each allocated a parcel of land as vegetable garden, and the land owner was able to save on the cost of removing the trash. Once an eyesore to the villagers, the area had been transformed into a hotspot in Amsa-dong.




Seoul’s Hallyu Tour Courses Recommended by Global Seoul Mates

The Global Seoul Mates is a group of voluntary representatives overseas who introduce Seoul to countries around the world via the Internet.

This article is about some of Seoul’s Hallyu tour courses that have been for chosen and recommended by Global Seoul Mates who love this city more than anyone.

It is not shown on the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s organization chart, but there is a special overseas PR team that promotes Seoul to the world. They are called the Global Seoul Mates, and they serve as overseas PR representatives for the city. These people, from all around the world, love Seoul so much that they voluntarily upload content on Seoul to their social media sites, thereby introducing the Korean capital to others.

Anyone who lives in Korea or overseas and has had a chance to visit Seoul, or anyone who just loves this city, is eligible to apply to become one of the Global Seoul Mates. People who can actively introduce Seoul online are selected, and they serve as Global Seoul Mates for a period of one year. Since the selection of the first group in May 2012, a total of 218 people in 30 countries worldwide have come to serve as Global Seoul Mates.

The Global Seoul Mates take part in missions initiated by Seoul Metropolitan Government on a quarterly basis. The current mission is “to introduce Hallyu tour courses in Seoul”.

They are tasked with picking their favorite from among five themes, K-pop, Korean television dramas and movies, weddings, fashion and beauty, and gourmet restaurants for celebrities, and then introduce particular hotspots in Seoul that match their respective themes to people who have never experienced the city.

A total of 62 people are participating in this current mission, and they have introduced 88 hotspots and tour courses. What do these recommended Seoul Hallyu tour courses look like?

As expected, the majority of Global Seoul Mates chose the categories of K-pop and television dramas and movies, which are the driving force of Hallyu. Tour courses that include gourmet restaurants, hotels, and popular locations that were featured in various Korean dramas are believed to be so jam-packed with exciting activities that a mere two days is not enough for fans of Korean dramas to visit and adequately enjoy all of them.

Notably, a Global Seoul Mate in China uploaded her wedding photos and vivid travel essays on her wedding and honeymoon experience in Seoul.

From among the various Seoul tour courses recommended by the Global Seoul Mates, Seoul Metropolitan City will select those who recommended great courses, based on the course’s originality and quality, and will provide them with certain free offers. Also, the courses that are selected as quality programs will actually be used when creating the “Hallyu tour courses,” provided by the city of Seoul.

As the courses have been chosen and recommended by foreigners who love Seoul, they will likely be helpful in developing tours that are more practical and successful than the tours of the past.




Seoul Mayor Seeks Creative Policy Ideas from Citizens

If an idea strikes you, like, “It would be great if this can be implemented as policy, since it would benefit many citizens,” while riding the bus, walking down the street, or visiting a community service center, kindly visit Seoul City Hall and present such suggestion on September 28. Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon as well as Assistant Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Director Generals at the Seoul Metropolitan Government will install at the city hall 14 booths on all fields of city administration including transportation, environment, and welfare and receive citizens throughout the day.

The city government announced that it would be holding the “Policy Idea Market,” which marks its second year this year, for 8 hours from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday, September 28. Held as part of the “Hope Seoul Idea Expo 2013” the Policy Idea Market is an event wherein citizens are invited to suggest policy ideas freely.

Notably, this year’s event serves as an occasion wherein not only senior Seoul Metropolitan Government officials but also more than 20 experts from the private sector including college professors and researchers gather together, review ideas, and deliberate on them. The event has also been organized such that citizens are able to suggest ideas of similar nature at a single booth by integrating into and placing as single booths those issues from which many ideas are suggested by citizens and which are related to each other, including welfare and women, housing and urban planning, and safety and infrastructure. Booths where more citizens suggest ideas including those on transportation, welfare, and housing are set up to be larger in size and placed closer to the entrance to allow citizens to find them easily. Mayor Park Won Soon will visit different booths, listen to citizens’ suggestions, and reply to them in person on the day.

Applications for counseling on ideas can be made at the venue on the day; if one suggests an idea via the “Hope Seoul Idea Expo 2013” website (http://ideaexpo.seoul.go.kr) in advance, however, the idea will be relayed to the respective offices, headquarters, and bureaus prior to the event. The citizens who suggest such ideas will then be able to get more in-depth answers onsite at the venue. Even if one makes an application in advance, however, the suggested idea will only be valid if one receives onsite counseling on the day.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will check with the offices and departments in charge whether the ideas suggested on the day will be reflected on policy and announce the results within 15 days. If an idea is reflected as Seoul Metropolitan City’s policy, the citizen who suggests the idea will be given a gift certificate worth 50,000 ~ 100,000 won. Exceptionally great ideas suggested will be recommended as candidates for the citizens’ suggestion category of Hope Seoul Creativity Awards in December. The winning idea will earn the proposer 1 ~ 4 million won in prize money.

In addition, citizens who visited the site on the day will be able to view exhibits and figure out how many and in what ways ideas deemed excellent at the “Policy Idea Market 2012” are being implemented. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will also display through illustrations citizens’ ideas that were adopted and implemented as policy for the past two years. Of the ideas suggested through last year’s Policy Idea Market, “Improvement of audio announcement made when the credit balance remaining in the bus pass card is insufficient” was adopted as policy; it is currently being implemented on a trial basis.




Seoul Metropolitan Government Wins United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) in Four Categories

For the first time ever, the Seoul Metropolitan Government won the United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA) in four out of five categories in 2013.

Programs that brought recognition to Seoul Metropolitan Government include: Seoul Welfare Standards for fostering citizens’ participation in public policy decision making; Eco-Mileage System for fostering citizens’ participation through innovative mechanisms; Comprehensive initiatives for female single-person households for the gender-responsive delivery of public services, and; Anti-corruption clean construction system for preventing and combating corruption in public services.

UNPSA is the most prestigious international institution recognizing excellence in public service.

In 2013, the entire Asia and the Pacific region were given 12 awards. Seoul Metropolitan Government won one third of them – 4 awards. It is the largest number of UNPSA awards ever to be given to a single organization. Seoul has also emerged as an entity that has received the most number of awards from UNPSA ever since its inception.

▶ Universal welfare standards enabled by and for the citizens of Seoul

Seoul Metropolitan Government’s “Seoul Welfare Standards” were recognized in UNPSA Category 3, “Fostering participation in public policy decision making through innovative mechanisms.” The standards reflect the characteristics of Seoul, a first by any municipal or provincial government in the country. They take into account the actual prices and standards of living of the city’s residents. The standards are the citizens’ Welfare Charter and the city government’s Welfare Guidelines that guarantee a decent life for the citizens regardless of the circumstances.

The fact that a large number of citizens have participated in the establishment of the standards – including 162 private-public governance meetings – impressed the UN evaluation group. Seoul was also rated highly for having held a 1,000-citizen roundtable discussion for the final review of the standards.

Through the standards, Seoul Metropolitan Government has established both the “minimum level of life” that must be guaranteed for its citizens and the “appropriate level of life” recommended for citizens to enjoy quality life in five major areas: income, housing, care, health, and education. Seoul has come up with a total of 102 specific programs necessary to guarantee a decent level of life for its citizens, and one of them is “Seoul-Type Basic Livelihood Security.”

“Eco-Mileage System” for engaging citizens in GHG emissions reduction efforts 

Like the Seoul Welfare Standards, Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Eco-Mileage was also recognized in UNPSA Category 3, “Fostering participation in public policy decision making through innovative mechanisms.” The mileage program is aimed at reducing GHG emissions and global warming. It is also the key element of One Less Nuclear Power Plant, which is being promoted by Seoul Metropolitan Government as its flagship energy policy goal.

Subscription to the program is easy. Any household or business in town can become a member online through a simple procedure. Seoul Metropolitan Government checks Eco-Mileage members’ consumption of energy – including electricity, water, LNG, and district heating — and discloses the information online so that members can trace the changes in their energy consumption.

As incentives for citizens’ energy conservation efforts, the city government offers LED lamps, power-saving multi-taps, and transportation card charge rights (called T-coin) – all eco-friendly products — to individuals. It provides businesses with the funds necessary to enhance energy efficiency and plant trees.

▶ Comprehensive initiative for women of single-person households

In UNPSA Category 5, “Promoting the gender-responsive delivery of public services,” Seoul Metropolitan Government’s comprehensive initiative for female single-person households was selected.

Previously, the municipal policy focused on the traditional concept of families. The reality is that Seoul is witnessing a change in social fabric and an increasing number of single-female households (450,000 persons). The initiative is widely recognized as Seoul’s representative policy attempting to cope preemptively with the rapidly changing demographics of Seoul.

The city begins with providing small public rental housing exclusively for single-female households.

In addition, the city government transforms old unused public buildings into multi-use buildings exclusively for single-female households dubbed “Safe Houses for Single Females.” It also constructs “Dormitories Exclusively for Female College Students” near colleges and universities in town.

To prevent crimes targeting females, the city government offers single-female households the Home Anti-Theft Service in collaboration with a professional security company at minimal costs. It also runs the “Safe Package Delivery Service” for females. For females who have to take the bus late at night, the “Safe Return Home Service” is provided. In addition, the city government supports online single-female household communities and helps single female households set up businesses. It has opened a professional clinic exclusive for women in a well-established general hospital.

▶ Anti-corruption clean construction system

In UNPSA Category 1, “Preventing and combating corruption in public service,” Seoul Metropolitan Government’s anti-corruption clean construction system was particularly rated highly for its computerized management system.

The online system consists of the “Integrated Construction Information System” that manages municipal projects systematically and scientifically, “Construction Declarer” that discloses all information related to public works, and “Payment e-Immediately” that discloses and oversees the payment processes from the prime contractor to subcontractors to protect the latter’s rights.

“One-PMIS (Project Management Information System)” is designed to enable the city government to manage all of its construction projects systematically. Everyone related to each project can share information on the materials, manpower, and equipment of the project in real time; thus guaranteeing systematic project management and transparent construction administration at the same time.

Most notably, “Payment e-Immediately” ensures that a prime contractor has paid its subcontractors and materials and equipment vendors as well as its workers before receiving monthly progress payments from the city government. In collaboration with financial institutions, the monthly payments are made instantly to the prime contractor once all its payables are settled. This system has already been borrowed not just by regional governments such as Busan Metropolitan City but also by central government agencies and even private businesses in Korea. Thus, the system is contributing greatly to fair trade and shared growth in the construction industry in Korea.




Citizens Who Enhance Seoul’s Image to be Honored as “Hall of Famers”

Ten winners of the Seoul Mayor’s Award and Citizens’ Award and who enhanced the image of the city will be inducted into the Hall of Famers,” which will be installed at Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Citizens’ Hall. The measure has been taken to exhibit photos and statues to allow many people to view the honorees and learn their contributions. Seoul Metropolitan Government has also decided to name public facilities, plazas, and streets after the real or symbolic name of the winners of such prizes to boost their fame and pride.

As for the awards, the city will improve consensus among its citizens by allowing them to discover and recommend candidates on their own while ending the conventional practice of recommendation by city agencies. It will also add new areas of citation by expanding the scope of awardees to organizations and facilities as well as people. According to Seoul Metropolitan Government, it comprehensively analyzed the limitations and problems with the conventional citation system and prepared a “general plan to improve the Seoul Metropolitan Government citation system” to have it focus on “citizens’ participation” and “collaborative rule by private and public sectors” and implement a plan that includes the above and other measures.

To date, more than 5,000 citizens have been honored with the Seoul Mayor’s Award and Seoul Citizens’ Award every year, but the citations had very low public awareness. A citation system that is representative of the city was lacking as well. Worse, measures for long-term benefits for winners have not been in place; thus, the citation system has failed to expedite properly activities to change and improve society, including participation in city administration and donations.

Seoul Metropolitan Government’s new citation system – which has been changed through the general plan calls for the “installation of Hall of Famers,” naming of public facilities after citizens, discovery and recommendation of recipients of the Proud Citizens’ of the Month Award by citizens, introduction of the Organization and Facility of the Year Award, reduction of the number of winners of Seoul Citizens’ Award and expansion of benefits for winners, and reinforcement of public awareness of citations through the use of PR channels including subway, buses, and street stalls.




The Hallyu Tour Courses in Seoul that Global Seoul Mates Recommends

Global Seoul Mates, which is a group of overseas voluntary messengers introduce Seoul to countries around the worldwide via the Internet.

Here are the “Hallyu tour courses in Seoul” that have been for picked by Global Seoul Mates who love this city more than anyone.

It is not shown on Seoul Metropolitan Government’s organization chart, but there is a special overseas PR team that promotes Seoul to the world. They are called the Global Seoul Mates and the serve as the overseas PR messengers of the city. These people from around the world love Seoul so much that they voluntarily upload contents on Seoul to their SNS channels, and introduce the Korean capital to others.

Anyone who lives in Korea or overseas who has had a chance to visit Seoul or who loves this city is eligible to apply to become one of the Global Seoul Mates. People who can actively introduce Seoul via online are selected, and they serve as Global Seoul Mates for one year. Since the selection of the first group in May 2012, a total of 218 people in 30 countries worldwide are serving as Global Seoul Mates.

Global Seoul Mates take part in a mission conducted by Seoul Metropolitan Government on a quarterly basis. The current mission is, “to introduce Hallyu tour courses in Seoul.”

They are tasked with the mission to pick their favorite from among five themes, namely K-pop, Korean dramas & movies, weddings, fashion & beauty, and gourmet restaurants for celebrities, and to then introduce Seoul hotspots, which match their respective themes, to people who have never experienced Seoul.

In this current mission, a total of 62 people have participated and they have introduced 88 hotspots and tour courses. What do Hallyu tour courses in Seoul that have been recommended by foreigners who love the city look like?

As expected, the majority of Global Seoul Mates picked the categories of K-pop, and dramas & movies, which are the driving force of Hallyu. Tour courses involving gourmet restaurants, hotels, and hotspots that were featured in various Korean dramas are believed to be itinerary so exciting that fans of Korean dramas cannot visit and adequately enjoy all of them in just a two-day tour of Seoul.

Notably, a Global Seoul Mate in China uploaded her wedding photos, and introduced vivid travel essays on her experiences with wedding courses in Seoul.

From among the various and special Seoul tour courses recommended by Global Seoul Mates, Seoul Metropolitan City will select people who recommend quality courses based on the criteria of course’s freshness and quality, and will provide them with certain free offers. Also, the courses that are selected as quality programs will actually be reflected in the composing of the “Hallyu tour courses” provided by the city of Seoul.

As the courses have been singled out and recommended by foreigners who love Seoul, they will likely be helpful to developing courses that are more practical and fruitful than before.




Seoul Metropolitan Government Selects Ten Leading News Stories in The First Half Year of 2013

Between July 26 and August 2, Seoul Metropolitan Government selected the ten leading news stories in the first half year of 2013 based on online votes by local residents and Seoul Metropolitan Government officials.

Topping the list was “the energy saving campaign (Let’s Reduce the Number of Nuclear Power Plants).” It is a campaign to reduce the energy use and produce new and renewable energy by using photovoltaic power plants (hopefully an amount equivalent to the power produced by a power plant, i.e., 1GW). The number of people taking part in the campaign is continuously increasing. More than a million people have signed up for the Eco-Mileage Campaign.

The adoption of late-night buses (operating between midnight and 5:00 AM) came in second. It was first adopted in April, and the number of routes will be increased from the current two to eight by the end of August.

Clean accounting of apartment administrative expense ranked third. In March, a portal site for the disclosure of apartment operation information was newly opened and is operated through an apartment management support center in the form of public-private partnership.

The news items that landed on the 4th and 5th spots were easing the burden of nursing expenses and car pool as the solution to the problem of high oil prices.

Creation of New Deal jobs designed to provide a shot in the arm for the difficult economic situation ranked No. 6 in the news. This was followed by turning non-regular workers into regular workers at No. 7.

Construction of 80,000 rental apartments in a new way (less expense, higher efficiency) landed on 8th place. Setting up free Wi-Fi zones in major streets, parks, and traditional markets was ranked 9th. Provision of additional public daycare centers using spaces left idle was no. 10.




Seoul Metropolitan Government Opens Integrated Foreign Language Dictionary Site

Official dictionary site

Seoul Metropolitan Government announced on August 1 that it opened an official dictionary site for the translation of Korean words used on information signboards and promotional materials into English, Chinese, and Japanese.

Seoul Metropolitan Government has provided the dictionary service (englishname.seoul.go.kr) for translation from/to English since 2002. This time, the service is expanded to Chinese and Japanese for users’ greater convenience.

The dictionary entries are classified into 12 categories: administrative zones, public institutions, names of places, transportation, tourism/culture, shopping, food, lodging, medical service/welfare, education, mass com/religion, and residential facilities. They contain about 80,000 words (48,000 in English, 16,000 in Chinese, and Japanese).

The site is expected to be very helpful to those interested in expressions in foreign languages and those working for tourism businesses.

For the use of standardized and unified names of food, cultural heritage, and roads, Seoul Metropolitan Government followed the information provided by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), and Ministry of Security and Public Administration, respectively.

Seoul Metropolitan Government also provided a space for reporting erroneous information, if any, to be able to correct it.




Seoul Metropolitan Government Town Community Project: A Year’s Worth of Performance

Seoul Metropolitan Government held on July 16 a session for the presentation of activities carried out for the Town Community Project and a panel discussion on the occasion of the first anniversary of the project, with over 200 people attending including Mayor Park Won-soon, experts, and ordinary people.

Part 1 of the session (Talk Concert) included a talk session on seven village communities, exhibit, and performance to encourage those interested in the easy-to-participate-in, interesting activities.

□ Rainbow Moms, an amateur stage play team consisting of housewives in Gangbuk-gu, is a case of housewives sharing childcare experiences together by developing them into community activities. The team visits one childcare facility after another to hold a stage play (currently Grandma’s Mirror) using props they made by themselves.

□ Changsin-dong Radio Deom: Changsin-dong is a neighborhood full of small-scale sewing factories. Deom is a village radio broadcast launched by a few villagers considering such characteristics of the village. Articulate middle-aged women are featured in the radio broadcast, entertaining villagers as they talk about common subjects. Note that these women strive for self-actualization and to do something for others, taking time out of their daily lives while most housewives engage in housework and raising children.

□ Town Carpenter, a village business in Seongbuk-gu, is operating a workshop to repair dilapidated houses. The activities it carries out help create jobs for senior citizens. It also operates a village café in an effort to foster a friendly atmosphere among villagers. The chairs made by them at the event will be donated to welfare facilities.

□ Yechangil is a group of young people in their 20s who carry out diverse activities, such as village school, cultural performances, and village festivals, in cooperation with store owners, artists, and other villagers. At the event, the members performed a stage play designed to make many people think about the meaning of community life.

□ Book Reading Villagers is a village café operated by volunteering housewives. The members also carry out diverse activities, such as village lectures and festivals. They talked about how to operate the book café while enjoying refreshments.

□ Ippen Haus in Sinjeong-dong, Yangcheon-gu is a group of villagers who hold a regular meeting to discuss how to live better in the neighborhood, including disputes over noises from neighbors in apartments. Recently, they distributed PET bottle flower pots made by children to villagers, which was lauded as an activity designed to foster friendship among villagers.

□ Sogeumgil (Salt Way) in Yeomni-dong is a case that drastically improved the atmosphere of crime-prone back alleys through a crime prevention project. Six houses are designated as Salt Way Watchers (identified with easily noticeable yellow gates and equipped with emergency bells and Internet protocol cameras). In addition, a group of volunteers make rounds to ensure safety in the back alleys at night.

In Part 2 (Citizens’ Panel Discussion), experts and activists discussed how to develop the ongoing Town Community Project. Seoul City started the ongoing Town Community Project in 2012 in an effort to rebuild friendship among villagers. For 2013, the city will provide 22.2 billion won for 22 related programs.