Greetings, Seoul citizens. How are you? As many of you are having some serious difficulties, you may feel that my greeting is inappropriate. I understand how hard things must be for you. So, let me rephrase.
1. How is your job situation?
These days, young people in their 20s are taking their own lives, disheartened by their failure to find jobs.
The Korean baby boomers, over a million people who have led the “Miracle on the Han River,” have now retired, and with nothing left for them to do and no job to go to, many of them merely wander through the mountains and parks. For women who left their jobs to give birth and care for their children after marriage, finding a job has long been practically impossible. Also, heads of households who have been laid off suddenly and unexpectedly are just walking the streets, unable to stay home out of shame.
Economic growth is not leading to job creation. The benefits of growth are not trickling down to the people; they are not leading to new jobs. The era of “growth without jobs” and “growth without labor” is intensifying the polarization of our society, while growing poverty and inequality are causing a rise in social crime. Too many people are suffering from joblessness, poverty, inequality, and uncertain futures, living their lives without any hope for tomorrow.
The times in which we now live are appalling. Joblessness is causing great suffering, and welfare for those without jobs has become merely an illusion. An economy without jobs is akin to fool’s gold. Jobs are what put food on the table and allow people to make a living. They are the foundation upon which an individual or a family can build a life. They are the ultimate bastion of happiness. Furthermore, jobs are the most important means by which people can escape from social and economic division and poverty, thereby narrowing the gap of inequality.
The right to work for one’s survival is the most basic human right.
And the most fundamental duty of the state, and the reason for the existence of a society, is to provide protection for all citizens from the risks of joblessness or employment instability.
Fellow Seoul citizens,
That is why today, we are embarking on the “Employment Trail,” together with our citizens. Through this initiative, we hope to address the demands of the era and the desperate appeals of the people. Without a doubt, one of the major topics of conversation among people today is employment. Jobs are the best result of growth and the best investment for the future. Jobs are the best form of welfare and the key to true happiness. However, the fact is that the current job-related policies of Seoul Metropolitan Government are limited.
The Seoul government has only limited authority and finances to resolve the employment issue, making it a very difficult task for us. Yet today, we are determined to start out on the “Employment Trail,” an initiative through which we will walk hand-in-hand with you toward the common goal of job creation. We vow to do everything we can to create even just a single job for a single individual.
Seoul Metropolitan Government can no longer turn a blind eye to this grave crisis, nor the destitute lives and uncertain futures of Seoul citizens.
Now, we intend to stand up and fight against joblessness, poverty, and inequality. Job creation will be the first and foremost task of the Seoul government, and we will continue to hold the banner high. From today, Seoul’s first policy will be job creation, its second policy will be job creation, and its third policy will be job creation as well.
2. I will stand at the forefront of the job market and lead the effort to create more jobs.
Fellow Seoul citizens,
Until now, Seoul’s policy on job creation tended to focus on projects that directly support public employment, such as job training and job placement, through the provision of financial support. As a result, you, the people, did not directly benefit from the over 200,000 jobs that were created annually.
Now, as we set out on the “Employment Trail,” the Seoul government will expand its job creation policies to the various facets of the city, including economy, industry, tourism, culture, urban renewal, private investment, and social economy, which are the foundation for the creation of quality jobs. Furthermore, we will concentrate our policy efforts on resolving structural issues concerning job creation in the private sector.
Seoul Metropolitan Government will implement job creation strategies in all areas of the city’s administration, including promising industries in Seoul, such as research and development, biotechnology, medicine, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions), tourism, and specialized urban industries, as well as SOC investment, urban renewal focused on industrial complexes, and private investment. We will also examine the channels through which jobs are created for certain groups, such as youths, women, the elderly, and the underprivileged, as well as for certain sectors, so that we may find ways to create new, high-quality jobs. As we fight to create jobs and develop implementable policies, we will never stop listening to the voices of the people.
Most importantly, we will come up with a comprehensive solution and increase employment prospects for youths currently suffering from the unemployment crisis through policies designed to narrow the gaps between the demands of employers and the qualifications of prospective employees and provide customized support to help youths find jobs.
Moreover, we will make the overall process and achievements of our job creation policies open to the public and continue our efforts to collect the opinions of Seoul citizens.
In the event we encounter any legal or systemic regulations preventing job creation that cannot be handled by the Seoul government alone, we will take proactive steps to have the central government and the National Assembly remove such regulations.
The employment issue cannot be resolved by Seoul Metropolitan Government alone. And jobs cannot be created immediately, even if we boost financial support right now. Jobs can be created only when corporate investment is invigorated through policy efforts, such as the government’s relaxation of regulations, and support for comprehensive economic policies on industry, finance, taxation, and others.
Therefore, in order to create jobs, it is an absolute necessity for Seoul Metropolitan Government to cooperate with private companies. Recognizing this, we will establish private-public governance for job creation and implement effective job-creation measures through the operation of the “private-public cooperative convention,” composed of experts and representatives of industrial and economic circles.
The limitations of Seoul Metropolitan Government are painfully obvious. When compared to the central government, there is little we can do. Also, companies are capable of providing only a limited number of jobs. Nonetheless, Seoul Metropolitan Government will stand up and take a step forward. The results of our journey down this path cannot be predicted. Our efforts could amount to nothing, leaving us empty-handed in the end. Embracing all of these risks, Seoul Metropolitan Government is determined to complete its journey along this trail.
There is a saying in Korea that for a chick to break out of its shell and come into the world, it must peck from the inside while the mother hen pecks from the outside. Similarly, I believe that great things can be achieved only when the internal capacity of the government and the external environment and the people come together—when force is applied from the inside and outside simultaneously.
As the leader of the “Employment Trail,” I will stand at the forefront of job creation, seeking out any possibility to create even just one job and doing whatever I can to make it happen. I will go and meet with citizens and listen to their concerns regarding jobs, and I will do the same for companies as well.
3. Let us work together to create great jobs for everyone, jobs that people had only dreamed of before.
There are the people who want to work.
There are the people who wish to find happiness in the value of hard work.
There are the people who dream of escaping from poverty through employment.
There are the people who hope for a “life with a future” through jobs, through “their work.”
Seoul will be with you.
Seoul will create a future with you.
Seoul will accompany you on your difficult, lonely, and tiring journey.
We will walk on the path toward realizing the ideal of “Seoul, a job-centered city,” where no one is denied the opportunity to work. We will dream of “Seoul, a job-centered city,” where anyone who wants to work can. We will resolve poverty and inequality issues through job creation, inspiring people to dream of a better tomorrow. In this way, we will create hope for “Seoul, a city of happy people living their lives together,” where we can stand up straight as the owners of our own lives.
Out there, we will find hope—a path to our dreams.
It will be a tiring and difficult journey, but together, we can do it.
Let’s make progress together! And let’s share the benefits of that progress.
If we walk together, we can pave a way toward making our dreams a reality.
Seoul citizens, let us go together.