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.