[2012] Mayor’s Speech

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  • The credit for our accomplishments this past year goes to our citizens.

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  • Address on the first anniversary of mayoral inauguration

    Date: October 24, 2012

    On the occasion of the first anniversary of my inauguration, I am grateful to the citizens for making my time in office possible.

    Good morning, beloved citizens of Seoul,

    I am Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul Metropolitan City. It has been one year since I came into office, and this past year has seemed both very long and very short, depending on how I think about it.

    As I began this year, I promised myself that I would always keep in mind the meaning of the phrase “Sugajaeju Yeokgabokju (水可載舟亦可覆舟),” from the Hwangbogyujeon, a history of the Late Han Dynasty. It expresses the fact that water can both float and sink a boat. It is an enlightening phrase that refers to the power of the people.

    In my inauguration speech as the mayor of Seoul, I said, “Seoul is a huge ship of which you are the captain,” and for the past year, I have been fully committed to testifying and realizing this belief. As such, “citizen-focused” and “communication with the people” have been the unique attributes and greatest issues of the city administration Won Soon.

    Upon coming into office, I followed through on my three major campaign pledges, and because the citizens ordered me to “first, improve their lives,” I created the campaign motto, “The First Mayor to Change my Life”. Your aspiration toward universal welfare was what called me to the frontline of our times, and your desperate plea for me to tend to those devastated by hardship and create a place for people to rest turned me into a servant of Seoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea.

    On my first day in office, I implemented a program that provides free, green school lunches for 590,000 children, and to ensure the stable supply of healthy food for our children, I installed the “Metropolitan Integrated Support Center for Green School Lunches”. In the long term, this initiative will expand exchange between Seoul and Korea’s agricultural areas, and contribute to the children’s nutrition education.

    Secondly, I implemented a policy that saw the tuition at the University of Seoul cut in half, to less than KRW 2 million. There was even talk about reducing it to zero. This had a great impact on our society, and now the presidential candidates are adopting this issue as a major policy. It has also changed the lives of the students at the University of Seoul. The number of applicants for school loans has been reduced by more than 40 percent, and the number of participants in social service volunteer activities has doubled. The halving of the university’s tuition is also leading to improvements in its admissions policy, allowing students to be selected based not only on their competitive edge, which, in turn, will lead to the production of creative youth who will contribute to the creation of a world where we all live together in peace.

    Third, we have begun the transition of irregular workers to regular employees. I remember vividly the laughter and tears of joy shed by the 1,133 people I met who benefited from this initiative, and it will continue to expand. We have commissioned a research project to come up with measures to ensure job security and improve the treatment of indirectly recruited workers of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. We will announce the results of this research within the year, as well as measures that will expand job security to organizations in the private sector that work with the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

    Dear citizens,

    Job security is the basis upon which the people’s happiness is built. Furthermore, it is a means of boosting domestic demand and vitalizing the economy. Above all, ensuring job security is critical to guarantee civil rights.

    One year ago, I believed my election as the mayor of Seoul was a political miracle. The emergence of a mayor elected from among the general population attracted international attention; however, it was only one of the phenomena unique to this era. As such, the essence of the city’s administration this past year was “innovation of administration”.

    This innovation of administration first began with “on-site administration”. The staff of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and I dedicated our efforts to realizing this goal, and we did more than simply talk about breaking away from “behind-the-desk” administration. By hosting the Listening Policy Workshops, we listened to the voice of the people in the field and carefully deliberated on various issues by inviting experts to debate on all factors involved. In this way, the citizens, expert groups, and administration of the Seoul Metropolitan Government collaborated to create new governance. So far, we have hosted a total of 39 Listening Policy Workshops, and I have personally met with some 5,200 citizens.

    The “Comprehensive Plan for the War Veterans of Seoul,” which was developed through numerous activities in the field, is a notable result of this new administrative direction. After paying tribute at the Seoul National Cemetery on June 6, I visited the homes of independence patriots and Vietnam War veterans. While listening to their stories, I was gripped by a serious question, “If we fail to care for these people, who else will dedicate their lives to this country and its people?” I then held meetings with various war veteran associations, and for the first time in the administration of the city, government officials visited their offices. This enabled us to come up with some measures to compensate them for their dedication and hard work.

    This policy would have never come to be if we had not listened and spoke to people directly in the field. Most of the policies of the Seoul Metropolitan Government are devised through similar processes, such as the “Hopeful Seoul Master Plan for People with Disabilities;” “Healthy Seoul 36.5,” a public health policy; the “Seoul Citizen Welfare Standard;” and “Sharing City Seoul”. In particular, the “New Town Exit Strategy” was developed by collecting and integrating the various opinions of people working in the field.

    I am the mayor of those citizens who supported me, but I am also the mayor of those whose support I have yet to gain. The city administration must serve as a balancing force between the left and right, the rich and poor, regional income gaps, and generational conflicts. I believe that the power of administration lies in its ability to create harmony.

    Second, we achieved innovation in administration through our pursuit of “open administration”. Using advanced IT technology, we created “Open City Administration 2.0,” and with the installation of the “Information Communication Square,” we significantly facilitated the sharing of city government information with the public. Recognizing that information is an asset, we expect the information regarding our administration that was actively shared with the public, prior to public demand, will create new value. In addition, we have adopted a recording system that meticulously records the daily schedules of the mayor and every process in the city’s administration, and will publish a whitepaper on each project. We have also adopted the real name policy system. Furthermore, with “Live Seoul, Live Won Soon,” I have opened and shared the mayor’s office with you. These processes will ensure the rationality and transparency of the city’s administration.

    Third, we are creating innovation in administration by utilizing a new information delivery system. We are the first in the world to use SNS as part of our administration activities—creating a so-called “Twitter administration”. In July, a young mother posted a comment on her Twitter page about a used clothing collection box installed on the sidewalk in front of Sungnye Elementary School in Jongam-dong that was posing a safety hazard to children on their way to school. This comment was delivered to the relevant bureau, and the situation was corrected immediately. Later, she expressed her joy at finding that such prompt measures had been taken, saying that although she had previously been uninterested in politics and administration, she was deeply moved by the action taken by the city administration. We found her message very rewarding.

    To continue resolving issues in this way, we will install the Social Media Center, or the SMC, which will be tasked with handling citizens’ complaints and requests that are delivered through all new media, including my own Twitter page, and shall disclose the results to the public. The innovation of the city’s administration will progress step by step. We will give particular priority to adopting the latest advancements in technology into our administrative activities, including location-based services, augmented reality, and voice recognition, thereby building the foundation for a disaster and risk management and response system. Furthermore, we have also launched the “Seoul Treasure House,” a mobile application-based community within which bureau and division chiefs of the Seoul Metropolitan Government are free to exchange their open and honest opinions on diverse issues. Countless proposals are already being put forward through this community, and mutual exchanges of encouragement and support are underway. This is leading to greater cooperation, and I believe it will prove to be the administrative innovation most effective at eradicating “behind-the-desk” administration.

    These administrative innovations we are achieving are all thanks to you. Your demand that we first see to the well-being of the citizens has propelled the city’s administration toward innovation, encouraging us to develop more methods of achieving broader and stronger “citizen participatory administration”. You have become the designers of your city’s policy. About KRW 50 billion of the city’s budget next year will be devoted to developing means of citizen participation, including “Seoul 2030,” a plan for the future of Seoul, and the “Seoul Plan Citizen Participation Group”. The future and well-being of the citizens has been incorporated into the core plan for the future of Seoul.

    Over this past year, with your help, we have strived to achieve our goals in the three areas of welfare, safety, and jobs. Based on the gathered wisdom of the people, we invested the city’s manpower and budget in areas that will be of practical help and support to our citizens’ lives.

    First, we announced the “Seoul Citizen Welfare Standard”. This is the first welfare standard for citizens adopted by a local autonomy in Korea, and will act as a welfare charter for Seoul’s citizens. It is the starting point for the realization of universal social welfare with a focus on income, housing, healthcare, and education. As you have emphasized to us that we must prioritize investment in the people, we promise to devote our best efforts toward further developing this welfare standard, which you assisted in creating.

    Second, the safety of the citizens is the safety of the city. Recognizing this, we have established a foundation for securing greater public safety. We enacted the Framework Act on the Management of Disasters and Safety, thereby creating a citizen-centered disaster management system. And we significantly broadened citizen participation in this area by enabling community mapping and building a prediction and warning system, which includes mountain mudslide warnings sent by text message. In particular, the disaster prevention budget was increased to KRW 758.8 billion, which is KRW 279.5 billion more than last year. However, no matter how hard we try, we cannot prevent every disaster. And although we know it will require a lot of time and money to make this city safer, we will strive to do so, always keeping in mind that your safety is critical to the existence of the city itself.

    Third, secure employment forms the foundation for the happiness of the people. Therefore, last May, we began to transition irregular workers to regular employees, and going forward, we will invigorate the economy by creating more quality, sustainable jobs. The internal and external outlooks for this city are not all positive. There will be difficulties. Despite our best efforts, our job creation efforts fell short of expectations, but we will not give up. We are planning to launch a customized HR development program that will connect talented university graduates with corporations, and create a “Youth Job Hub,” which will help make the dreams of our youth come true. Furthermore, we will create quality jobs by pursuing social economy, based on sharing and solidarity, and we will take various steps to protect small business owners and vitalize traditional markets and local businesses. We will strengthen the engine of Seoul’s growth by expanding the tourism, entertainment, and MICE industries.

    Honorable citizens of Seoul,

    With your help, we have managed to make many achievements, such as providing the promised amount of public rental housing units and reducing our debt. Our goal in 2012 was to provide 18,516 homes, but as of September this year, we have exceeded that goal by 16,000, bringing the total number of public rental housing units to 40,000. And the Seoul Metropolitan Government continues to work hard with investment institutions to reduce the debt.

    However, the past year was not free of frustration and despair, and we were forced to devote a great deal of energy to correcting inappropriate policies. Faced with astronomical debt, in the neighborhood of KRW 20 trillion, I felt I was at my wits’ end. With a worsening economic recession and declining tax revenues, the bounds of limited decentralization and resulting regret became a part of my daily life. There was so much to do, and even more that I wanted to do, but I was often frustrated by the reality and the restrictions on what I could accomplish.

    In retrospect, the obstacles I encountered throughout this process acted as speed bumps, forcing me to pursue innovation in administration slowly but steadily, and thereby increasing the happiness of our citizens. It was only with your help that I was able to persevere through those critical moments, and it was your support and encouragement that enabled me to carry out my responsibilities with common sense and a rational perspective, with the “interests of the citizens” and “Seoul’s future” as my barometers.

    Dear citizens, I thank you.

    Now, I am returning to the field. On November 1, the Mayor’s Office will temporarily move to Eunpyeong New Town, where many apartments remain unsold. There, I will think about how to deal with the unsold SH Corporation apartments and how to create a better environment for the residents there, devoting myself to finding solutions. Yet, Eunpyeong New Town is only one of many issues. As in the past, the Mayor’s Office will continue to move to places with pending issues related to the livelihood of Seoul’s citizens, such as sluggish traditional markets, youth unemployment, elderly frustration, and childcare facilities, and make its best efforts to find appropriate solutions.

    It has already been one year since I took office, and there are some people I want to thank and to whom I would like to express my deepest respect. These people are our staff. I am well aware of your dedication and patience. Under such a stubborn and meticulous leader as I, you have endured remarkably well and carried out your responsibilities admirably. I am incredibly fortunate to have met such excellent colleagues. You mean a great deal to me.

    Beloved citizens of Seoul,

    I know that I have your support. In front of me, I have the names of the 3,430 people who took part in the administration of Seoul Metropolitan City: the one-day citizen mayor, honorary vice-mayor, citizens who took part in the Listening Policy Workshops, citizens who appeared in “Won Soon’s Seoul Story”, citizen writers, citizens who participated in the Seed of Hope, and those who left comments on my Twitter page. I have your names right here, but you are not the only ones who have made a difference. The happiness of Seoul is being achieved by you and all citizens.

    Dear citizens,

    We are all like musical instruments that make different sounds, and we have the capability to come together to form a large orchestra and make beautiful music. So, I ask you to maintain your relentless efforts to achieve our goals and continuously criticize us openly and honestly. So far today, we have looked back over the past year, but now, I would like to look forward to the coming year. It is thrilling just thinking about the beautiful “sounds” we will make together. With the hope and inspiration of every citizen, I will work each day to the best of my ability. I owe everything I have to all of you. You are the true mayors of Seoul. Thank you!

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