Address at the regular assembly of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
Date: March 21, 2012
Venue: Auditorium, Seoul City Hall Welfare Center
Dear members of the main office, headquarters, and bureaus of the Seoul Metropolitan Government
I am Park Won Soon.
Just a few minutes ago, I presented our First Penguin, a stuffed toy penguin. I wish I could have presented a better gift, but my position as mayor is more limiting than I had expected. So, instead, I offered a small gift with great sincerity.
To be honest, I should present a stuffed penguin to not only those present here today, but to every employee of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. I know the last few months have been tough, and that I was the one who made your work so challenging. Nevertheless, I offer my sincere gratitude to every member of our metropolitan government family for always going above and beyond and doing your absolute best.
I know it must be tough for the penguins as well. They have dangerous natural enemies, and although they love diving into the water, it must not be easy diving into such freezing cold water every time. But the penguins also know that if they do not go into the water, they cannot catch fish, protect and maintain their species, and above all, fulfill their reason for existence.
I am not the first penguin; rather, I believe that all of you are first penguins. There are many of you who have dedicated yourselves to undertaking the challenges of creating a new paradigm and new values and processes. The work was unfamiliar and difficult, but you managed to rise to those challenges.
On January 9, we announced the people-centered “Hope Seoul City Administration Operation Plan,” and followed that by the announcement of the public transportation fare adjustments and the “Management Innovation Plan,” something that we had long worked to achieve. Furthermore, the “New Town Renewal Project New Policy Initiative” was an excellent example of preemptive administration, and we even implemented the “Children’s Happy Saturday Project,” following the nationwide adoption of the five-day school week.
If I have not mentioned your department, bureau, or office, please do not be disheartened. Acknowledging all of the exceptional work you have done would take this regular assembly well into tomorrow morning. Together, we have accomplished so much that there is simply not enough time for me to mention every detail. This attests to the magnitude of your achievements as first penguins.
Dear members of the Seoul Metropolitan Government family,
Do you remember the famous words of Guus Hiddink, the Korean national football team coach? He said, “I’m still hungry.” And I am sure you all admire Steve Jobs. Although he has passed away, the words from his commencement address at Stanford University are still very much with us: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
Why do you think I have mentioned these quotes? Perhaps some of you are anxious, thinking that I’m about to give a long list of orders during this regular assembly. But I am neither Hiddink, nor Jobs, yet like them, I am an ambitious man. I can work all night, and I am still very hungry. To ensure the innovation and creativity of our city administration, and to achieve the happiness of our citizens, I will “stay hungry” and “stay foolish.”
But we must do this together. We may have to go a little bit slowly, but above all, we must do it together with the citizens. That is the only way the city can regain its vitality, and how the happiness of Seoul’s citizens can be sustained.
More importantly, it is really the only way to make the citizens happy. If we try to go it alone, it would be a lonely and exhausting journey, and perhaps, more likely to fail. We must work together so that we can each feel a sense of mission and value that go beyond our positions and salaries, and come to appreciate our lives together. Above all, I want to dream and carry out our plans together.
Yes, you will feel frustrated. As is the case in most companies and organizations, the leaders will serve as the first penguins and shout, “Follow me!” This makes things very clear, as the employees know where the responsibility lay, and the results are tangible. But in our case, you are asked to seek the opinions of citizens, discuss issues, regardless of position, and make decisions together with them. Considering the burden this will likely impose, you may have doubts, believing that nothing will get done that way.
But, beloved family of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, please think about it for a moment. Think of the many renowned cities around the world. Regardless of who their mayors are or what their philosophies may be, the cities that successfully maintain their individuality and achieve continuous development are the ones that are the most proud. These are the cities that ensure the quality of life of their citizens, and have done so for a long time.
Seoul is poised to do the same. Now, you and I are standing at a transition point.
In February, on the occasion of my 100th day in office, we adopted one hundred “seeds of hope” from among our various achievements during the last 100 days. Of these, the most popular was the “easing of parking restrictions in front of small restaurants during lunch hour” and the “Hope Ondol Project,” through which we ensured that not one single homeless person froze to death last winter. This was a small miracle achieved through cooperation with our citizens.
These small glimmers of hope filled us with positive emotions, but we did not stop there. Together, we devised the “Hope Seoul City Administration Operation Plan,” a rough sketch of the mid- to long-term plan for the design of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In order to draw up this plan, we collected the opinions and requests of individual citizens through the SNS channel, Ask the Mayor, and at policy workshops and forums, as well as with the support of the “Hope Seoul Policy Advisory Committee,” an advisory body comprised of public and private businesses.
In this way, we managed to turn a considerable number of dreams into realities with the help of the citizens. They may be only small changes today, but I am confident that soon they will show remarkable results. Some evidence of this can already be seen.
Honorable first penguins,
The outlook and predictions based on the various economic indexes for this year are dim, and we have two major political events approaching, the general and presidential elections, giving us all the more reason to consolidate our focus on the administration of the city’s affairs. The more we work together, the more important becomes our decisions of selecting areas in which to concentrate our efforts. To ensure the successful implementation of major policies, I ask that you determine specific dates for policy goals and establish a detailed and systemic schedule to analyze and manage the progress made toward achieving those goals. Also, if we hope to improve the quality of our policy, we must first identify problems by listening to our citizens and work in the field to find the most realistic solutions.
Additionally, I ask that you put your best effort forward and consider things carefully so that our citizens may experience no inconvenience in their daily lives, nor suffer a single safety incident at any facility managed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, allowing them all to enjoy themselves at work.
In a few minutes, CEO Kim Ho will give a lecture on communication. He will elaborate on “Cool Communication,” a communication paradigm that involves responding to mistakes in modern society, where transparency and sincerity are growing increasingly important. He will show us a new direction and new ways to manage crises and conflicts and build trust, as well as how to improve interpersonal relationships. Taking these lessons to heart will be a huge help to the city administration and, in particular, in conflict mediation. I hope you enjoy listening to him.
Dear first penguins and members of the Seoul Metropolitan Government family,
I have dived into the cold water. I have dived into the water with you all. Although it may be unfamiliar and difficult at first, the fish we catch will not be only mine; they will be ours, and that of our citizens. I will always be indebted to you and dedicate myself to encouraging you in every endeavor you pursue, so please never give up. Thank you.