Keynote speech at a foreign press conference hosted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government
Date: November 9, 2011
Venue: Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Korea Press Center
Foreign correspondents in Seoul,
It is a great pleasure to meet you all. I am Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul.
I am here today to listen to your wise words of advice and share good ideas regarding the administration of Seoul. Before we begin, I would like to first extend my heartfelt appreciation to Mr. Ito Ryoji, president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club (SFCC), and the members of the foreign press for granting me this meaningful opportunity.
For a two-month period during my campaign, I met very many of the citizens of Seoul, and most of them sincerely hoped for change. Among the various changes they desired, I particularly remember how passionately they wanted to see changes in politics and communication.
After reflecting on what they said, I realized that the aspiration for such changes was not a recent phenomenon. History has always headed toward the new, and every day, we open a new page in history. If I did not believe that it were possible to make change and achieve something new, I could not have made the decision to become mayor. From the day I decided to run for this position until this very moment, it has been my faith in this city’s citizens, and in history, that has given me the strength to go on.
Now, I would like to return this faith to you. During my campaign, I promised the people of Seoul that I would become the first mayor to actually achieve change in the lives of the citizens. So, I ask all of the foreign correspondents here today to watch me until the end and see if I keep my promise.
I shall not fail in building a foundation for change that will allow the city and the people that I love so much to dream greater dreams in the coming future. Of that, I give you my word.
Dear members of the foreign press,
I believe a mayor is someone who incorporates the dreams and hopes of the citizens into policies. To achieve this goal, I will begin with projects that allow me to offer what comfort and encouragement I can to the weary lives of the citizens while attempting to determine the areas of the citizens’ lives that most urgently require improvement.
I will create a Seoul where the people are happy and that is beloved by the world by carrying out city administrative affairs with a focus on the citizens and their welfare. I will give it everything that I have. I will strengthen not only the autonomous organization of the Seoul Metropolitan Government but also the network of horizontal connections with the citizens. I will promote citizen cooperation by encouraging them to voluntarily take part in the city’s affairs and engage in interactive communication with the administration. In other words, I will strive to enable the citizens to take ownership of their city and participate in all processes of the city’s administration.
To this end, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and I shall build a governance system that is based on a network of civic organizations and expert groups. Prior to its establishment, I will spend considerable time in the field with the citizens of this city, faithfully listening to what they have to say and ensuring that their views are incorporated into the city’s new administration.
Esteemed foreign correspondents,
In order to create a city of hope where the people live together in harmony, I shall turn the needle of Seoul’s compass toward the welfare of the people. Specifically, the funds that were injected into unnecessary construction and engineering projects will be reinvested into initiatives that support the lives of our citizens and elevate their quality of life in terms of welfare, environment, and education. In particular, I will make sure all citizens who have fallen on hard times have equal opportunity to enjoy warm meals.
And I will not stop there. The youth, elderly, and housewives of this city are suffering from a lack of jobs. To remedy this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government aims to facilitate 10,000 creative, youth venture companies, and also install the Society Investment Fund to create sustainable, high-quality jobs.
Furthermore, we will restore the Hangang River to its original, natural form, and make sure that we are well-prepared to respond to any disasters caused by abnormal climate conditions. Also, the structure of the real estate industry is changing, as the city’s housing lease crisis emerges as the greatest concern of our citizens today. To deal with this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is committed to devising a concrete way of minimizing the crisis. By controlling the pace of construction and redevelopment, we will prevent large numbers of homes from being destroyed, and we will adopt a housing policy that helps the people through this difficult time.
I will put my trust in the citizens, and by shifting the focus to them, we will move forward together. While we journey down a new path of change, I will become a mayor who is a friend to the people, especially to those who have become exhausted by the challenges of their daily lives.
Respected representatives of the foreign press,
I am certain that many of you are competently managing your own household affairs. Therefore, you will agree that if one keeps increasing debt and wasting money, one cannot plan for the future nor create a happy home. The same goes for Seoul. In order to achieve reform in our cost structure, I will carefully examine the necessity of all projects currently underway, in terms of their value to the public interest, and determine if each one is truly desired by the citizens. Any projects deemed to be lacking in necessity and validity, and those that elicit lukewarm citizen response, shall be drastically reduced or abolished. We will be as frugal as possible in this process. Also, projects for which there is little current demand, but are expected to become more desirable in the future, will be put on hold and renewed when the time is right.
Going forward, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will enhance the efficiency of its financial operations. In particular, projects that require review shall be deliberated on by the “Pending Projects Coordination Council” as expediently as possible in order to quickly determine whether it is to be continued or terminated. In the event a planned project is cancelled, we will install a Director-General of Conflict Management to analyze any potential factors of conflict in the administration and solutions so that we can be prepared and respond proactively.
In addition, we promise to create a financial soundness index, which includes the balance and debt of the city treasury, to ensure that the citizens are clearly informed of the status of the city’s finances. By transparently releasing such information, we will increase the public’s trust in the city’s administration.
Dear members of the foreign press,
It is often said that journalists are always a step ahead of others in their perception of the current era. Through your newspaper articles and broadcasts, I have seen Seoul develop, and while considering your words, have searched for the best way forward. Now, I ask you to cover all Seoul-related stories in the media as often as possible, as the criticism and comments of the media form the barometer by which not only public sentiment can be measured, but also the world.
I have promised to be a mayor that stands among the citizens and communicates with them, so I plan to communicate with not only the domestic press but the foreign press as well, via all forms of media, with an open heart. Going forward, I hope foreign press correspondents serve as reliable advisors and partners in my administration of the city. I recognize that the foreign press has introduced the great changes and attractions of Seoul to the world from an objective viewpoint. Even what Seoulites consider trivial or are unaware of because they are such integral parts of our daily lives, you have introduced to others in a way that makes these things seem like refreshing and extraordinary parts of Seoul. In this way, you have piqued the world’s interest and inspired many tourists to come and visit us in Seoul. Such positive perceptions have enhanced the city’s brand and the world’s image of Seoul.
I hope you continue your excellent work, and serve as strong supporters of the effort to make Seoul a city to which people want to return, and in which they want to invest and live. Furthermore, I ask for your continued kindness and interest, so that the Seoul Metropolitan Government can be reborn with a new community-based mindset that focuses on continuous communication with the people.
I look forward to creating more opportunities for you to express your opinions, and for me to listen to them. Please do not hesitate from sternly criticizing any errors, but also, I hope that you promote our achievements and hard-earned successes.
Once again, I would like to thank President Ito Ryoji and all the members of the foreign press for your attention.