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Mayor's Hope Journal

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  • Seoul Metropolitan Government will strive to help its citizens in 2013.
    [Mayor Park Won Soon’s Administrative Journal 68]

  • SMG 1443

    “Seoul Metropolitan Government will help its citizens in 2013.”

    Dear citizens of Seoul and fellow city officials. I wish all of you a very Happy New Year in 2013, the year of the snake. The snake is a symbol of affluence and fertility, so I sincerely hope that all the citizens of Seoul will enjoy an affluent year in this year of the snake. While preparing my New Year’s Greetings, I suddenly looked back upon the promise I made to you when I ran for office as the Mayor of Seoul. The first promise I made to the citizens of Seoul was that I would be ‘The first mayor to actually change citizens’ lives.’ Did I stick to my promise? Was I of help to our citizens?

    We did our best to be of help to our citizens throughout 2012.

    Last year, after establishing welfare, safety and job creation as our main policy tasks, Seoul city officials and I served free environmentally-friendly meals to some 590,000 children, implemented a half-price tuition fee system in the range of about 1 million won for the University of Seoul, and converted 1,133 indirectly employed non-regular workers into directly employed regular workers last May, with a plan to convert 6,231 more workers at a later date.

    Administrative innovation has been achieved under the three goals of achieving ‘on-site administration’, ‘open administration’, and ‘Twitter administration’, which ultimately became prominent features of the administrative style of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In addition, I personally met with more than 5,400 citizens at a total of just 41 policy seminars.

    To make a single policy, I met with dozens of experts and carefully weighed up the ideas at meetings. Such a model of cooperative administration has become a balance weight which tuned up the administration of Seoul Metropolitan Government. This is the true power of on-site administration.

    Open administration was made possible by realizing ‘Open City Administration 2.0’ with the development of IT technologies. The official position of ‘history recorder’ was established in order to note down all the daily activities of the mayor meticulously, and a white paper on each project was published to share information on the process and results together. Above all, the Information Communication Plaza was opened to share public data about Seoul Metropolitan Government. So far, a total of 2,733 administrative information files in 64 categories have been opened to public scrutiny.

    The world’s first ‘Twitter administration’ has changed not only citizens’ lives but also the administration of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The Social Media Center (SMC) was established to manage all civil complaints in real time in a comprehensive manner.

    Some people have said they like to check the mayor’s Twitter of the mayor if it rains. When it rains, my Twit timeline is uploaded with various kinds of information such as snow-removal work in each village as well as pictures of people shoveling snow by themselves. Such information is then connected with the snow removal countermeasure network of the Seoul Metropolitan Government based on life safety governance. Both citizens and Seoul Metropolitan Government are changing each other in this way.

    Furthermore, Seoul city officials and I have accomplished many more things together: so many, in fact, that we cannot count them on our fingers. Not only ideas related to last year’s three administrative goals of welfare, safety and job creation, but also many other amazing policy ideas are piling up on my desk every day, making me think, “The officials of Seoul City are really great.” I am really proud of our city’s officials. Thank you very much.

    Nevertheless, I have a heavy heart. I feel regretful because although we did our best, we still have a long way to go. There are many tasks left to do and various difficulties facing us. Most of all, Seoul City is in financial difficulties. As you may know from media reports in October last year, the debts of Seoul City have increased 2.9 times over the past decade. As of 2011, the city’s debts amount to approximately KRW20 trillion, and the daily interest is KRW 2 billion. If such a situation occurred at a private company, the company would be facing bankruptcy.

    Not only that, but Korea’s total household debts are roughly KRW 1,100 trillion. Among them, approximately 32% of the debts borrowed from banks, for example, are concentrated in Seoul City. The statistics are more alarming than anything else because they demonstrate that the livelihood of the citizens of Seoul is in a very tight corner. That being the case, where can we find hope? Will we be able to be happy together? Can I keep my first promise to become “the first mayor who changes citizens’ lives?”

    “In 2013, the livelihood of the public is my top priority.”

    Dear citizens of Seoul! This year, I will do my utmost to make sure that Seoul Metropolitan Government is ‘of some help to the livelihood of its citizens’. Last year, we received many requests for rescue in our society, such as: “Someone is sick here” or “Help! Let’s live together,” and the situation is the same this year. Nothing can be more urgent than them. In 2013, the administration of Seoul City aims to ‘help improve the livelihood of its citizens’. To that end, the livelihood of the public is our top priority. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and I will cope with the city’s impending financial crisis wisely, and focus all our capabilities and resources on taking care of our citizens.

    This year, the welfare budget of Seoul has exceeded KRW 6 trillion for the first time ever. The amount is approximately 30% of the total budget of Seoul, and I expect the precious budget will be used to help improve the livelihoods of our citizens.

    In addition, we will reinforce the ‘welfare criteria for Seoul citizens’ announced last year. We will vaccinate free of charge some 440,000 children against essential diseases designated by the government, and provide 30,000 students and children in the low-income bracket with a family dentist service under ‘Health Seoul 36.5’, a public master plan for medical services.

    We have also introduced the ‘Seoul-style basic livelihood guarantee system’ to ensure a basic livelihood for extremely poor people in Seoul who are stuck in a welfare blind spot. For now, 40,000 such people will receive basic living expenses.

    We will also nurture children together and upgrade the actual quality of child care. We will continue increasing the number of national and public daycare centers, establish 100 national and public daycare centers in 2013, and secure at least two national and public daycare centers in each ‘dong’(village) by 2014. Furthermore, no citizens should be left without access to medical treatment simply for lack of money. This year, Seoul City is installing branch health centers in areas where vulnerable social groups are concentrated. We will also offer a new model of public hospitals by operating hospitals that are convenient for patients.

    Dear citizens of Seoul! There should be no suicides in the city under any circumstances. I really pray for that as the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In the ‘Ordinance on the prevention of suicide and the promotion of a culture of respect for life in Seoul,’ which was preannounced on December 27 last year, the rights and duties of the citizens and the responsibilities of the mayor for the prevention of suicide are stipulated. Now, Seoul Metropolitan Government draws up suicide prevention plans every year and supports the efforts in that direction of the city’s autonomous districts. We will provide comprehensive care for those who are at risk of suicide and establish a 24-hour crisis management system. In this way, we will do our best to establish a safety net for the prevention of suicide by reinforcing the relevant capabilities of the community.

    Another top priority is that of resolving citizens’ anxieties about residence. To make Seoul a city free of housing worries, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will do its best to supply sufficient public houses for rent in 2013.

    There is also the problem of household debts. We will expand the remit of the Financial Welfare Center to include the provision of financial counseling and financial recovery programs. We will strengthen the measures aimed at eradicating the invasion of public livelihoods in the seven major areas related to the lives of ordinary people – such as private loan businesses and delays in the payment of wages. Our measures will be omnidirectional, encompassing prior prevention, constant crackdown, and subsequent aid.

    To our fellow citizens in difficulty, Seoul Metropolitan Government will certainly try to help you to prevent you from sinking into greater despair. We will actively create ‘good jobs’. We will first support the city’s youth with vocational training and business incubation, and do our utmost to provide people in the low-income bracket with direct jobs. We will also analyze wages and post management performances meticulously and manage them continuously. But I cannot do this alone. The Youth Job Hub will be operated to provide young adults with a venue for networking and research and to develop policies related to youth employment and occupations.

    In addition, we will strive to help senior citizens who have made the Seoul of today. Now, the population of Seoulites over 65 years of age is 1 million, and one out of every three people in the city is either a senior citizen or a potential senior citizen. The happiness of these senior citizens is very important, and has become a major duty of our generation. In this regard, Seoul City is opening the Double Life Support Center in Seoul to assist seniors in designing their “second life.” We will also accelerate the creation of customized jobs and make Seoul a city where senior citizens can live happily.

    “Seoul is innovating in 2013.”

    Dear respectable citizens of Seoul! We need to innovate if we are to be of help to each other. We need to create a new life and dream a new dream. To that end, Seoul will establish a social and economic infrastructure. The Social Enterprise Development Center will be opened as a hub of social and economic networks. In addition, a social investment fund will be operated to realize social values and create jobs continuously. This fund will be raised jointly by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and private resources to invest in our lives. In addition, we will make efforts to promote cooperatives and establish a good environment for them. Amid the economic difficulties caused mainly by the financial crisis in Europe, areas with solid bases of cooperatives are maintaining a stable life for citizens and making good progress. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will establish an educational support system for cooperatives, operate a counseling support center, and select and support models of social cooperatives which have a strong public character.

    . Seoul continues to innovate in diverse realms of society. The basic aim of such innovation consist in returning what is abnormal back to normal, and what is absurd back to common sense. This year, such innovation will be pursued in more areas. First, we need to innovate the paving blocks. I declare the year 2013 as the year of the “Ten commandments for paving blocks.” The sidewalk is built with taxes paid by citizens, and is a path for our citizens. The sidewalk is a show window for the administration, so a reasonably innovated management system for the sidewalks of Seoul will constitute the first step in making Seoul a good city for walking.

    We will complete the open administration of the city by innovating information and communication. For core projects, the records of all their processes are to be organized in white paper-style e-books to be made public via the Information and Communication Plaza. In this way, the public disclosure of administrative information will be a true driving force in our inflexible society. Energy innovation will continue, too. In 2013, the project to reduce energy consumption equivalent to the output of one nuclear power plant will be implemented in earnest. We expect the project will reap substantial results with the support of comprehensive measures. Seoul will make the transition from an energy-saving city to an energy-producing city.

    True innovation is being made on the scene of life of citizens. Seoul will become a more sharing city. Dear citizens! We are sharing our life – from roads and transportation to information and knowledge. The more we share things, the more affluent our lives will become the village community project will be implemented in earnest as well. The village community is not a real estate policy. It is a project aimed at recovering the relationship with our neighbors, who are “closer than cousins” according to one of our old sayings. A better village community will form the basis for the recovery of the welfare ecology and economic ecology of Seoul. As a result, we will make Seoul a city where citizens can be of great help to each other.

    “The growth engine of Seoul will evolve in 2013.”

    Dear respectable citizens of Seoul. We need to make sustainable growth if Seoul City is to be of help to its citizens and keep innovating. Thus we cannot give up the growth strategy designed to increase and strengthen the economy of Seoul. That being the case, how can we make future growth engines to realize a better Seoul? Again, I found the answer to this question from our citizens.

    The 2030 Seoul Plan, the most important rough sketch to deciding the spatial structure and the direction of the long-term development of Seoul over the next 20 years, will be completed by the end of the first half of this year. The plan is being prepared with the participation of many citizens through the Seoul Plan Citizen Participation Group, so that the life of citizens can be contained in the sketch. As you know, Seoul has been the capital of ancient kingdoms on the Korean peninsula, Joseon, and Korea for over 1,000 years since the time of the ancient Baekje Kingdom, through the Joseon Dynasty to the present day. Seoul is a proud historical and cultural city which has nothing to envy of other cities in the world. Seoul can become an attractive tourism city with ample historical and cultural heritages, as the tourism industry is a representative 21st-century-style creative industry. In this regard, we will continue making every effort to recover the value of the 600-year-old Seoul and the Seoul city walls and allow the public to enjoy it.

    In addition, we are preparing treasures for future generations 100 years from now. That is, world-class tourism resources will be developed by actively discovering and preserving precious modern historical and cultural assets as future assets.

    Last year, over 10 million foreign tourists came to Korea, and more than 90% of them visited Seoul. Moreover, Hallyu, the Korean wave, is spreading out to the world.

    In 2013, Seoul will conduct strategic marketing for each region and tourism sector. ‘Storytelling groups’ will be operated with the participation of citizens to discover hidden tourism resources. Every corner of Seoul will become a tourist attraction, and the tourism infrastructure will be improved.

    Seoul will be a proud name in the world. Promotion of the MICE industry, a high added-value industry, cannot be ruled out either. Lately, it was reported that Seoul ranked first as the best city for international business meetings. But it’s not enough. My ambition is much greater than that. Seoul is marching forward to become the undisputed No. 1 in the world in the MICE industry.

    The global MICE industry environment is changing from moment to moment. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will work hard in the field to attract international conferences jointly with government-civilian associations and international networks. We will also concentrate on market exploration at Asian corporate meetings which keep increasing.

    The base region in Seoul for the establishment of a world-class MICE industry complex will be selected and announced. Also, in 2013, Seoul will spur the promotion of the knowledge-based industry based on technological innovation. The Magok industrial complex, where Seoul-style R&D institutes, large companies, small & medium enterprises, and foreign companies will create a powerful synergy by integrating research facilities together, will become a new growth engine for Seoul in the 21st century. In addition, financial investments will be made in the SOC sector. Creative and innovative urban infrastructures as befitting the status of ‘Seoul, a world-class city,’ will be expanded. We will prepare a comprehensive implementation plan on the basis of the Basic Plan for Urban Railroads, which will be announced in February to improve the transportation infrastructure of Seoul for public transport and pedestrians.

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    “In 2013, the central government and local governments should cooperate.”

    Dear citizens of Seoul! A bird cannot fly with one wing only. Likewise, the important policies of a local government cannot be implemented properly without the cooperation of the central government, while the measures announced by the central government concerning the livelihood of the public will be empty words if they are not supported by local governments. I hope that in 2013 the central government and local governments can forge win-win relations and be of help to each other. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will actively cooperate with the new central government to ensure successful national administration. In particular, the president-elect will need the cooperation of Seoul City for the successful implementation of the presidential election pledge.

    Seoul City has plenty of experience in implementing various policies and projects for citizens’ livelihood. If the new president were to draw on the experience of Seoul City when implementing new policies, it would be a good example for the development and growth of the nation. Also, the true decentralization of power is the basis for national development and improved competitiveness. To that end, the independent finances of local governments must be expanded. It is also essential that the power concentrated within the central government should be transferred to local governments via institutional improvements. Then, the mutual understanding between the central government and local governments can be enhanced and the degree of completion of policies will be increased, so that the central government and local governments can be of help to each other.

    “Our power should be expanded in 2013.”

    Dear citizens of Seoul! There is a term ‘Korea Discount’ which means that the values of Korean companies are relatively underestimated compared to the companies of other competing nations. The main reason for this ‘Korea Discount’ is the ‘conflict between North and South Korea’. The ‘Korea Discount’ is the same as the ‘Seoul Discount’, because Seoul suffers extensive damage resulting from the strained relationship between North and South Korea due to the representativeness and geopolitical location of Seoul. Therefore, I am going to implement North-South exchange and cooperation programs by organically combining social and cultural exchanges with the aid of North Korea in the hope that this will contribute even a little to the promotion of peace. Seoul City will continue making efforts to play a catalytic role in opening up North-South talks by beginning cultural exchanges with the North, such as a Seoul-Pyeongyang Soccer Match and a performance by the Seoul Symphony Orchestra in Pyeongyang. All such efforts will be pursued through consultation and cooperation with the new government.

    “Seoul Metropolitan Government will help improve citizens’ lives in 2013.”

    Dear citizens of Seoul, fellow city officials! Do you remember the time when the mayor’s office was located in Eunpyeong New Town? The records from those nine days gave me fresh answers to the many chronic problems we are now facing. And I learned a good lesson during that time: we can generate an amazing amount of power if we concentrate on something very carefully. That power is the creativity of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which brings change and innovation, and the power that we make can help improve the livelihoods of the citizens of Seoul above all else. So I came to the conclusion that nothing is impossible if we concentrate our attention and energy.

    We have many assignments to fulfill this year. I am going to use the concentration power of our city and the on-site mayor’s office in the process of solving the various pending problems. The basis for the revitalization of ‘Garden 5’ will be prepared using the example of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza , which became the basis for the most successful world-class creative industry of Seoul by establishing a new operational model under a plan to establish an independent operational structure in March 2014. Similarly, solutions will be found for Subway Line 9 and Sevit DungDung Seom (Floating Island) by pooling the wisdom of every one of us to protect the citizens’ interest.

    Dear respected fellow city officials! Recently, there were an organizational reshuffle and numerous personnel changes in the Seoul Metropolitan Government. I wanted to promote more people and move more people to better positions. But I was sorry that I couldn’t do so for everyone. However, we are all one no matter where we work. From the mayor to a minor clerk, all of us are valuable beings and, above all, we are in the same team. We all share the vicissitudes of life. Let me tell you a couple of simple things that I have practiced so far since I took office.

    First, I send a congratulatory card written in my own handwriting and a pair of wild geese to all officials of Seoul City who get married. Second, I visit the funeral hall of all the officials of Seoul City unless I am on overseas trip. Third, I pay keen attention to those who work very hard and try to compensate them properly.

    I will not neglect any of my fellow city officials. At least, I will not let hard-working people become alienated, and will make your endeavors meaningful. I believe that the officials of Seoul Metropolitan Government should be happy if they are to make the citizens of Seoul happy. Just as I do not neglect a single citizen of Seoul, nor will I neglect any one of my fellow city officials. We will take care of each other and march forward together. I hope that the citizens of Seoul will encourage the proud officials of Seoul City.

    Dear citizens of Seoul, respected officials of Seoul City!

    Once again, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year in the year of the snake. I promise to do much more than my best.

    Seoul Metropolitan Government will surely help improve the lives of all its citizens this year!

    Thank you.

    Seoul Metropolitan Government will help all its citizens in 2013.

    Happy New Year

    2013, Year of the Snake