-Communication is the biggest issue in our time
A Russian proverb says, “God exists too high, and emperors are too distant from us”. This proverb, which came about during the Imperial Russian era, describes the miserable state that Russian people were in at that time. It clearly expresses people’s helpless bitter feelings about their pain, as God is far away from people and the Emperor is in a heavily fortified castle. After knowing about this proverb, I was strongly impressed by the saying, and I kept it in my heart ever since.
Strictly speaking, this proverb is not only about Imperial Russia. Regardless of time and space, it happens all the time. As people hold higher power positions, they tend not listen to peoples’ voices. Even in the age of Internet, where convenient online communications are widely available through advanced technology, things have not changed much.
Accordingly, the issue of communication with citizens is still important even in this day and age. What I mean is that people do not communicate with each other. Politicians do not listen to peoples’ voices. Then, there can be no genuine communications between them. There can be only one-sided assertions and directions. In actuality, this has become the most important issue in politics and administration, causing serious concern. In the political arena in Yeouido, I do not see politicians listen to each other or listen to citizens’ opinions. If the National Assembly, which represents the Korean People, does not listen to peoples’ voices, the results are obvious – they cannot gain the peoples’ trust and they will be shunned by the people.
My tour of listening to citizens has become a regular event since the beginning of my mayoral election campaign. To get to know citizens, I visited traditional markets, part-time workers, community children centers, neighborhood bakeries, elementary schools under free school lunch programs, and venture enterprises at Gasan Digital Valley. After the election campaign, as the Mayor of Seoul, I still continue my listening-to-citizens tour.
I’ve visited street cleaners’ worksites, traditional markets, Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market, housing damaged by the leakage of waterworks, the landslide site of Umyeonsan(Mt.), housing sites, which are classified as a dangerous state, 120 Dasan Call Center, and the Seoul Emergency Operations Center.
I see many things onsite. I see problems not only about one site, but I also see general problems derived from them. I can hear many real stories about the residents from each area or interested parties, and civic servants working onsite. I can see and hear real things that I would not be able to get if I only worked in my office, reading reports and approving documents. Onsite, I can hear good ideas and alternative measures from real people. Listening to citizens can prevent self-righteousness and narrow-mindedness, and it helps me understand real problems and take proper actions. That’s why I’m continuing my onsite tour and listening to citizens.
However, visiting sites is not a cure-all, because there are other ways to be able to listen to citizens’ real voices. I can meet citizens via twitter, Facebook, Internet portals, and blogs. Not only that, I opened “Mr. Won Soon’s Counseling Room” to listen to the difficulties and problems that the civil servants of Seoul City are going through. In a few days, I received letters from some 70 people. Rest assured, I am the only one who can read the letters. Sitting in my office, I can get to know the wishes of my workers. Through this miraculous, invisible channel, I can see and hear things, and I can catch up with the administrative affairs of Seoul City in the shortest time possible.
The past one month has gone by very quickly. During that time, I prepared budgets and submitted them to the City Council. I got reports and processed pending issues. I participated in several events and met with high-ranking local and overseas officials. I had meetings with the City Council. Each day went by so fast that I did not even realize the sun setting and rising. Seoul City is a place where 10 million citizens live and some 20 million people work for a living. As a result, a lot of things happen at every moment. When I wake up every morning, something is waiting for me to decide on. Each work reminds me of how important the position of mayor is. I strongly believe that, if I perform my tasks always listening to citizens, I will not make any mistakes. Even now, I will be with you.