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Mayor's Hope Journal2

  • My fellow Seoulites and Seoul City Government staff

  • Mayor's Hope Journal2 SMG 4907

    2010, the year of the tiger, has begun. May this year bring you health and vitality, and the determined spirit and strength of the tiger.

    When I took office three and half years ago, I envisioned the journey toward a new beginning and a greater future for Seoul. Today we can be proud that we are now on this journey, realizing, together, the Seoul we have all hoped for.

    I was determined to build brand values unique to Seoul and transform the city into a dominant player on the world stage.

    As the New Year is now here, it is a good time to look back and reflect on the extent to which these hopes have been accomplished.

    Since I became the 33rd mayor of Seoul, 731,000 new jobs have been created in Seoul.

    The areas relatively less developed are now gaining vitality through the Renaissance Projects implemented in the northeastern and southwestern regions.

    The gap between the district with the most revenue, Gangnam, and that with the least, Gangbuk, has been narrowed from 17 times to 5 times, laying a solid foundation for more balanced development.

    A host of new landmarks such as Gwanghwamun Square, Hangang Park, Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, and Seun Greenway Park, have enlivened our city.

    Dust particles in the air have dropped to a record low since 1995, and green spaces in neighborhoods have been expanded to a whopping 246,000㎡.

    Free and affordable cultural events have dramatically increased to over 500 annually.

    Seoul has seen its rank in urban competitiveness jump from 27th to 12th and that in financial competitiveness rise from 43rd in 2007 to 35th in 2009.

    In 2008, Seoul was named the “most visitable” city by the people of China, Japan, and Thailand.

    These are some of the record-breaking achievements we have made.
    And I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support and participation in these efforts. We did it! Not the Seoul City Government alone, not I, the mayor of Seoul, alone, but we, 10 million Seoul citizens and the Seoul City Government staff, did it together.

    But we must remember our journey has not ended yet.

    Many of the major projects initiated during my term, such as the Hangang Renaissance, Namsan Renaissance, Design Seoul, Economic and Cultural City Marketing, and Urban Recreation, just to name a few, are far-sighted preparations for the future, to be fully realized 10 or even 20 years later.

    In that respect, the year 2010 is pivotal as it is the time we will hand down projects begun to the next city government for visible results.

    Externally, 2010 is the year when large-scale international events such as “Visit Korea,” “World Design Capital 2010,” and the “G20 Summit” will be held in Seoul.

    Global eyes will be on us, and we should take full advantage of these opportunities to showcase our great city and generate momentum for Seoul to become one of the top 10 cities in the world.

    2010 is the year when the recent economic turnaround should be felt by all Seoul citizens.

    It is also the year when Seoul will become a more livable city, offering fresh hope to its citizens.

    It is against this backdrop that I have set “Vital Life through Economic Vitality” as the goal of Seoul City in 2010. Achieving this goal will mean greater job creation and fewer housing and education worries for Seoul citizens.

    Above all, we will create 216,000 new jobs by executing early this year’s budget. We will also push for a new employment policy for quality job creation by building and fostering 1,000 social enterprises over three years.

    That is not all. Economic vitality for the public requires the “virtuous” cycle of growth and employment.

    With that in mind, we will make 2010 the year of economic growth with enough jobs, beyond the era of growth with few jobs.

    As manufacturing businesses and knowledge-based industries are expected to face some difficulties creating new jobs in the next year, we will continue to focus on discovering and developing new industries that guarantee high employment growth.

    Our efforts to promote Seoul through urban brand marketing, create landmarks such as the Hangang, the Namsan (Mountain), Gwanghwamun Square and the DDP, and highlight Seoul’s charm through effective urban design is all geared toward the attraction of money, people, and information to Seoul and to the realization of economic growth with employment growth.

    2010 will be the year when we fortify the foundation for growth with jobs, and see that foundation bear fruit. In fact, we are already seeing some tangible results. The number of foreign tourists, for example, jumped by 30 percent from 6.02 million before my mayorship to over 9 million at the end of last year. An increase in foreign visitors at this pace will ensure some 30,000 more new jobs this year.

    The design policy to enhance Seoul’s prestige will also begin to yield new jobs in full scale this year. In particular, the industrial design policy drawn up last year will speed up various projects, including the project to develop four areas – Mapo, Gangnam, Guro, and Dongdaemun – as specialized design industry zones. These projects are expected to create some 17,000 new jobs.

    As Seoul was named the World Design Capital 2010, we will make special efforts to promote Seoul as a design-forward city through various events including the World Design City Exhibition and the Seoul Design Festival.

    In addition, support for small and medium-sized businesses, which account for 99 percent of Seoul’s economy and are truly the driver behind the labor-intensive economy, will be increased. The amount of that increase is 2.5 times that given in 2006, which truly reflects our determination to create more jobs.

    In particular, we will generate over 30,000 more jobs in small and medium-sized businesses in 2010 by supporting them with a 1.5 trillion won subsidy.

    Housing is another problem we must tackle this year. Housing prices in Seoul are notoriously high; in fact, they are completely unattainable for low income families. It is for this reason that “SHift”—a program under which long-term lease housing is provided to lower income families — was created. SHift is the brainchild of the Seoul City Government and Seoul Housing, and has become so popular among the public that the average competition rate to lease a SHift apartment unit is 10:1.

    Seoul City has also introduced another program whereby low-income workers who cannot afford SHift apartments are provided with housing units for monthly rent. The number of these units currently available is over 46,000. This was a promise I made when I was sworn in as the mayor of Seoul, and I’m happy to say that I have kept it. Seoul City has also succeeded in lowering rent for the underprivileged by up to 25 percent.

    Various housing policies adopted first by Seoul City, including the opening of the actual cost of apartment construction to the public, post-construction apartment sales, and the public management system for the transparent management of real estate redevelopment have been well received as fresh initiatives that have changed the paradigm of the city’s housing market.

    Seoul City’s housing policy as such will continue and be expanded even more. We will supply over 10,000 SHift apartment units this year, which is more than the rental apartments provided in the previous years. We will also make 50,000 SHift apartments available by 2013, a year ahead of schedule.

    Further, we plan to exert all-out efforts to build 20,000 studios and over 6,000 monthly rental housing units.

    We are confident that this housing plan will help immensely to keep Seoul affordable for Seoulites from all walks of life.

    2010 is the time to rise above our rival cities to become a force to be reckoned with on the 21st-century global map. It is the time to continue our preparations for 2020 begun two years ago under our vision “2020 for Hopes and Dreams.” Let me present to you now some of the concrete plans we have devised under this vision.

    First, we plan to create momentum for new growth by making the most of Seoul’s invaluable resources: historical and cultural heritages, the natural environment, and human resources.

    We will turn the area within the four main gates into an open-air museum filled with world cultural heritages. We will also work hard to see that the northern part of Jongno, which is clustered with royal palaces and traditional Korean houses, is included on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, and that historic streets like Donghwamun-no, Sulla-gil, and Pimat-gil are restored.

    These efforts will help us bolster Seoul’s unique identity as the nation’s capital and a city with a 600-year history.

    Seoul boasts a wealth of natural resources, which sets it clearly apart from other cities around the world.

    The city is literally immersed in nature, surrounded as it is by mountains and a river. Taking full advantage of these resources, we will push forward with the second-phase Hangang Renaissance Project and build roads along the foothills of the mountains. Another plan involves creating a greenbelt in the urban center that will link the river and mountains to villages.

    Second, we will focus on creating a “three-dimensional city” by placing equal priority on the development of the underground and the aboveground, moving away from the usual aboveground-centered urban planning.

    Underground roads and railroads will vitalize the development of the districts that have been disconnected by roads and railroads, and will free the aboveground to become more of a quiet, clean, and open green area that is integrated with commercial, business, and residential spaces.

    I am confident that Seoul will become even cleaner and more beautiful through our “three-dimensional city” initiatives.

    Third, competitive education is the basis of urban competitiveness in the 21st century, an era of knowledge and creative industries.

    We will give overriding priority to “reduction in private teaching expenses through emphasis on school education” and the “cultivation of creative talent.”

    Seoul City will aggressively take measures to relieve parents of their concerns about education costs. Some of these measures include consolidating school education through level study, enhancing teachers’ expertise, and vitalizing extra-curricular activities.

    The future of Seoul lies in the hands of talented and creative professionals. With this in mind, I have set development of Seoul as a creative educational city.

    To achieve the goal, we will nurture competent teachers for creative education; launch a creativity academy; adopt a supervision system; and utilize all city assets such as the Seoul Museum of Art and the Seoul art space Yeonhui as sites for creative field education.

    We will fully take the initiative in laying the basis needed for the cultivation of budding talent.

    Fourth, our future from now to 2020 lies in how we pursue green growth while curbing the low birthrate and dealing effectively with an aging society.

    In this regard, we will put forth extra efforts to make Seoul a city with the least environmental burden in the world.

    And we will take firm steps toward fighting the high-cost low-benefit social structure and making Seoul a happy and healthy city, free of the burdens of costly childrearing, education, and housing.

    Fifth, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the 100-year “Gyeongin Megalopolis Plan.”

    Seoul now faces many problems to solve, such as heavy traffic, pollution, and expensive housing costs, as part the price it has to pay for rapid industrialization and condensed growth.

    In comparison, other major cities in Northeast Asia, such as Beijing and Shanghai in China, and Tokyo in Japan, have traveled the path to a megalopolis by beefing up their cities to sharpen their competitive edge.

    In order not to be outdone, we should start envisioning territorial plans and putting them into action hand-in -hand with Incheon and Gyeonggi-do, venturing beyond urban policies limited to Seoul.

    Specifically, we should set our eyes on long-range tasks to be undertaken cooperatively with Incheon and Gyeonggi-do. These include development of the Great Train Express (GTX) and underground driveways; the utilization and restoration of the Hangang; extension of subway lines; expansion of housing; and joint utilization of NIMBY facilities.

    Twenty-five million citizens in the metropolitan area as well as 10 million Seoul citizens should join hands to create Gyeongin Megalopolis, a project that, when completed, is sure to enhance Korea’s global competitiveness drastically.

    Lastly, I will fortify “Seoul Welfare Network.”

    Thanks to your support, Seoul Welfare Network is now a full-fledged social service program for people in need, providing assistance to the poor, people with disabilities, women, seniors, and children.

    The Seoul City Government plans to expand this program even further to reach the lives of all social minorities, so that they may fully experience the benefits the network has to offer them in the areas of culture, education, housing, transportation, and environment.

    Seoul Welfare Network programs like “Hope Plus Bankbook,” “Dream Bankbook”, and the “Humanity Course with Hopes”, have assisted countless citizens to develop self-reliance. Indeed, projects such as these have helped make Seoul Welfare Network a support system that helps citizens in need develop self-reliance, rather than a simple cash-support system. These kinds of projects will continue to be developed and implemented well into the future.

    Seoul Welfare Network stands as proof that welfare policy can serve as a model for social investment beyond just a simple re-distribution of wealth.

    I expect that Seoul City will be able to cut over 1 trillion won from the budget in the long run if Seoul Welfare Network helps 10,000 families get off welfare to resume economic activities and if it prevents 10,000 families in the middle to lower class from going on welfare to begin with.

    Valued Seoul City Government staff,

    Our achievements during the last three and half years have been impressive.
    We returned 98 community centers to citizens, a first in 50 years, and solved the 20-year-old problem of sharing the resource retrieving facility. We have overcome obstacles to realize construction of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park(DDP),and brought vitality to the urban center by creating the new landmark, Gwanghwamun Square.

    The opening of Seun Greenway Park, Dream Forest, Seoul Iris Garden, Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, and the renovation of Children’s Grand Park — are a few more of the accomplishments of which we should be proud.

    Over 30 policies we created have been benchmarked by the central government, the private sector, and other cities at home and abroad.

    But what I am most proud of is that we have proven our creativity in developing programs that truly make Seoul distinct in the world.

    You have offered a total of over 186,000 ideas, of which 3,944 have been brought to life. And creativity clubs have increased 19 times from 26 in 2006 to 494 in 2009.

    Our creative city governance has now gained recognition around the world. We won the UN Public Administration Award and gained the ISO 9001 International Certificate. Eight graduate schools of public administration in the U.S., including that in the University of Texas, the University of Delaware, and Cornell University, will begin to offer courses on our creative city governance and its achievements this year.

    With such accomplishments as the cornerstone, let us move forward to make Seoul City a peerless organization – a diligent entity unmatched in its integrity and compassion—in 2010, trusted and respected by all Seoul citizens.

    If our creative city governance strategies were distinct enough to garner global attention last year, then why not make 2010 the year we raise the level of our creative governance to perfection?

    This will be achieved when our citizen are satisfied with our innovation, not when we just innovate regardless of our citizen. A great organization is born when it is adored and respected by all citizens.

    A respectable government can’t exist without integrity. Seoul City’s integrity index, which was ranked 15th before I took office, shot to the top among local governments across the nation in just two years, an unprecedented record. This is the outcome of our joint endeavor to introduce a new audit system.

    Last year’s unexpected slip disappointed me, but only briefly. Because, after the storm, always, comes the calm. I believe that the difficulties we faced last year will strengthen our resolve this year. Let us turn that setback into an opportunity to re-earn the respect of citizens.

    Lastly, a peerless organization thrives on compassion.

    Last year, in the midst of the unusually tough economy, we all set out to lend a helping hand to the underprivileged. Some 12,200 of us visited welfare facilities for volunteer work over 1,300 times. Let us continue to reach out in the New Year and make sharing and volunteering a part of our everyday lives.

    The Seoul City Government intends to rise as a peerless organization with outstanding work capacity, integrity, and compassion for citizens all rolled into one.

    Seoul will also take even bolder steps toward becoming a great creative city.

    My fellow Seoulites and Seoul City Government staff,

    An individual with skilled hands is invaluable.

    For the last three and half years, remarkable differences have been made in all of Seoul’s sectors every time we undertook initiatives toward realizing a clean and attractive global city. Your creative mindset and teamwork provided the momentum for these changes.

    The Seoul City Government has impressed its citizens with more friendly services and surprised the world with its projects.

    I am confident that in 2010 we can continue to build from our rich experiences and expertise to make Seoul an even greater city.

    Opportunities come only to those prepared.

    The Seoul City Government has been preparing to become a dominant player on the global stage for the past three and a half years. With your continued support and interest, and our combined ambition and passion, we will surely see this hope come to fruition.

    I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May 2010 bring all of you happiness and prosperity.

    Thank you.