In the afternoon, upon my homecoming two days ago, there were a few comments left on my Twitter account that caught my attention.
“The expected forced eviction of 23 families in the Bongcheon 12-1 housing redevelopment area yesterday.”
“The expected clashes were reminiscent of the ‘Yongsan Tragedy’ nightmare.”
Detailed content relating to this was printed in the Hankyoreh Newspaper, which was the first thing I did this morning. It was during crack of dawn, and I immediately called the chief secretary, requesting an inspection and check of the on-location situation. Had I known there was a plan of a forced eviction from the beginning, I would have cancelled all other engagements and headed to the location, listening to the opinions and even threats of those involved, with the clear purpose of stopping the forced eviction. The current head of the Seoul Housing Department, which takes full responsibility for housing problems, was mobilized right away and reported that immediate removal measures had not taken place. An initially tense situation was dealt with. As in all cases, there are instances where the rules for forced eviction should be adhered to. There are innumerable cases in the past where forced evictions were dependent on fixed requirements which had been put in place. Sometimes, in cases of strong civil contention, or questions regarding the equity of citizens who had already moved out, problems can arise. Not only this, but there are also limitations on what Seoul can forcibly do in cases of pre-approval/permission, and after management disposal has been granted. Nevertheless, forced eviction cannot take place. We have already experienced the Yongsan Tragedy. Last winter, I announced that there would be no forced evictions during the winter. This being said, it’s not an issue that changes just because it is the summer. As mayor of Seoul, my position is endeavoring to reach an agreement, even if the process is extremely difficult after holding all possible discussions with the people involved. The administrative practice of leaning on the past, where forced eviction in the name of administrative convenience has been used as a weapon, uprooting citizens who have been residing in their homes for decades, has to be changed. In other countries, there are areas where large scale development takes decades to complete, and in those areas, complete agreement is essential. I am aware I do not have the power to protect all citizens to the very end, but this morning I was convicted to find the best ways to protect the profits, security, and social trust of the people, with all the power and strength in my possession.