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  • New Year’s Address Seoul Metropolitan Government

  • Culture & Tourism news SMG 9744

    A Challenging Year for the “New Normal” of 10 Million Citizens
    – We are resolute to overcoming the crisis like breaking rocks with water droplets. –

    In the year 2021, let's work together to overcome COVID-19 and see each other's smiles. Citizens are heroes and the vaccine. Happy New Year!

    1. The age of post-COVID-19 with massive transformation begins with the life of citizens.

    Honorable citizens of Seoul,

    We have greeted the new year of 2021.

    2020 was a year of hardship during which countries worldwide had to protect their communities against the unprecedented virus of the infectious COVID-19. As the dissemination of contactless lifestyle became accelerated throughout society and the patterns of life and consumption altered, citizens had to be accommodated with unfamiliar changes. As the public economy became unprecedentedly stagnated and halted, the self-employed and small business owners had to face a crisis that they have never experienced.

    Ordinary life that was enjoyed by everyone was shaken to its core. Inconvenience began as people always had to wear a mask wherever they went. People also had to give up on celebrating national holidays with family and relatives, and greeting the new year with loved ones to share warm wishes.

    2021 will be a decisive year to open the path to the post-COVID-19 era, going beyond the massive changes. The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) will keep citizens lives from being shaken up through bold challenges and innovation as it designates 2021 as “a challenging year for the new normal of 10 million citizens.”

    The SMG will not only overcome the crisis faced by citizens with the resolution of breaking rocks with water droplets, but also prepare preemptively for the new normal that will completely change after COVID-19, in this age of massive transformation caused by COVID-19.

    As it is clear that we can’t live in the same way as that of yesterday even if the daily life can be restored after COVID-19, the SMG will redesign the overall urban system and the life of citizens from a new perspective. Additionally, the city will take this massive transformation as an opportunity for changes to overcome various current problems, such as inequality and disparity, that have become more serious in the age of crisis.

    2. The SMG will implement seven tasks in full swing for the new normal of 10 million citizens.

    The starting point is the lives of citizens. The SMG will implement seven tasks under three fields of ▴ disease control and prevention, ▴ public welfare, and ▴ future investment to open the path to the new normal of citizens in the post-COVID-19 era.

    First, the SMG will secure the safety of citizens with a sustainable S-quarantine system.
    In this age of the new normal with disasters and crises, the strongest shield to protect the community is disease control and prevention in daily life as well as tight-knit public medical services that guarantee the autonomy and responsibility of citizens. The SMG will protect the lives of citizens from not only temporary disasters but regular threats and make the city where people can live at ease without worrying about infectious diseases.

    The SMG has increased the number of sickbeds for each stage of treatment, such as sickbeds for critical patients, those for infectious diseases, and community treatment centers, in order to prevent the situation where public medical services can’t accommodate people so that they have to quarantine themselves in their houses. Additionally, to block asymptomatic infections, the SMG has expanded the operation of designated screening clinics to increase the number of tested individuals.

    However, it is not enough. The SMG will rapidly establish an emergency medical center with 59 sickbeds in Seoul Medical Center and a respiratory specialized center with 48 negative-pressure sickbeds for critical patients in Boramae Hospital. The other municipal hospitals will be equipped with the responding system with sickbeds to cure the infectious disease. Moreover, the SMG will establish a close public-private disaster medical system together with over 50 hospitals based in Seoul to use the private and public medical resources in the stage of crisis. The SMG will reinforce the functions of Seoul as the control tower to respond to infectious diseases not only based on researches about the policy against infectious diseases but also by establishing the “early alarming system” where the real-time monitoring, risk evaluation, and prediction of spread of infectious diseases are available.

    The SMG will also begin the construction of the “integrated storage center of disaster control resources,” which is like the Ark of Noah that prevents the shortage of disinfection items, such as masks, that we experienced at the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19. By 2022, the center will be established on the area of 10,000 m2 to stably secure the resources for disinfection and disaster control and promptly respond to emergency situations.

    Second, the SMG will do its best for the early recovery of the public economy and stabilize employment.
    The SMG will do its best for the early recovery of the public economy, which is facing the most serious economic and social crisis caused by COVID-19 since the IMF crisis in 1998, and stabilize employment.

    First, in the first half of the year, 60% of the new year’s budget will be executed early. The virtuous circle of the recovery of the public economy will be settled with more jobs created, disposable income increased, and consumption boosted. A total of KRW 2 trillion 157.6 billion will be invested to provide 393,000 direct and indirect jobs to citizens who are facing the economic hardship due to the spread of the infectious disease. A variety of jobs will be created, including jobs for subsistence for vulnerable classes who are in urgent need of getting a job, such as low-income individuals and the disabled, Seoul-type New Deal jobs with which workers can acquire techniques and experiences, and social service jobs for reinforcing childcare and adult care. Quality jobs will also be created tailor-made for different generations, such as middle-aged generation after retirement and the elderly.

    For small business owners and the self-employed who are facing difficulties after the raised social distancing, the SMG will cooperate with banks to provide the loan for the cultivation of small businesses that amounts to KRW 1 trillion and support the guarantee of KRW 3.5 trillion through the Seoul Credit Guarantee Foundation. In line with the expansion of consumption from home, KRW 6.2 billion will be invested to support the small businesses to sell their products on online stores so that local commercial zones can be revitalized and quickly respond to online consumer culture.

    The SMG will prepare a policy for protection of necessary workers, such as care service and delivery personnel, as well as platform/freelance workers who are exposed to a poorer working environment and employment instability in the crisis of COVID-19 as soon as possible. This year, KRW 78.4 billion will be invested in a total of 24 projects, including the reinforcement of social safety net for irregular workers and securing the basic rights of the workers in blind spots. The SMG will operate a “Comprehensive Labor Support Center” per each autonomous district for the protection of rights of vulnerable workers, and establish 10 “Remote Worker Shelters” this year for the protection of remote workers, such as delivery workers and home-school teachers, aiming at operating at least one in each of all autonomous districts.

    Third, the SMG will guarantee the care as the right of citizens.
    The SMG will be reinforcing the customized welfare service for each stage of the life cycle, such as children, adolescents, middle-aged and the elderly, with the goal of guaranteeing the care as the right of citizens and embracing every citizen without blind zone. The usage rate of public day care centers, which is the core infrastructure of public care, will reach 46% this year and 50% next year, which means 1 out of 2 children will attend such facility. The number of Seoul Kium day care centers, the infrastructure for care of elementary school students, will be increased to 254, 10 centers per autonomous district on average. The number of Seoul Kium day care centers, which combine culture and art, will be expanded to 5.

    The SMG will also establish six new Municipal Silver Care Centers for the care of the elderly, and continue to expand the manpower for Dolbom SOS centers in 25 autonomous districts to be able to play more active role in addressing the urgent care gap. The number of 50 Plus campuses and centers will be increased to 16, which will help the middle-aged prepare for the second half of their life in a systematic and comprehensive way to benefit the individuals and the society at the same time.

    The SMG will be a reliable prop for vulnerable classes, such as the disabled, low-income groups, and homeless people, who are suffering the most to go through the tunnel of crisis. The number of houses for the deinstitutionalized disabled and homeless people will be increased by 148 this year to a total of 470 and the number of the taxis for the disabled will be increased by 10,000 to be more than doubled. To make households in crisis due to COVID-19 get back on their feet, the SMG will relax the criteria of Seoul-type emergency welfare and Seoul-type basic security, and abolish the criteria of family support obligation of elderly/single-parent households.

    The SMG will support members of single-parent and multicultural households, as well as foreign residents, to live as equal Seoul citizens. For single-parent households, the SMG will reinforce the early support for single mothers and help their healthy independence through expanding the housekeeping assistance services. For members of multicultural families and foreign residents, the information about living in Seoul will be promptly provided in 13 languages and the education for the adaptation to the society will be provided in 10 fields, including the finance and taxation, so as to make the social environment where they can live together with neighbors. As to the child abuse, the protection will be reinforced by establishing public responding system.

    Fourth, the SMG will invest in the biggest issue of residence stability, and the long-awaited task of balanced regional development.
    The SMG will make all-out efforts for the residential stability of citizens, currently the biggest issue, and maximize the effect of balanced regional development, the long-awaited task of Seoul which should be addressed to realize the potential of the city.

    The SMG will implement according to plan the supply of 240,000 public rental houses, the core policy for residence stabilization for working classes, and supply 80,000 various types of public houses by 2022 using abandoned, low-use lands, such as garages or rainwater pump stations. For residence stability for future generations, such as the youth and newlyweds, the SMG will newly purchase 4,100 rental houses and provide wide support of the security deposit for leasing and monthly rent. Sticking to the plan, the SMG will conduct the supply of houses through the public regeneration project, including the public redevelopment. 3,000 “public lease houses” will be supplied as a new type of house for middle and working classes. 17,000 “stake saving-type houses for installment sale” will be supplied starting in 2023 through the improvement of institutions to help houseless end users who want to possess a house. The SMG will also endeavor to stabilize the house rental using the Seoul Lease and Deposit Support Center and the Seoul Housing Lease Dispute Conciliation Committee.

    For the balanced development of regions, the SMG will concretize the projects according to the “2nd Railroad Network Construction Plan,” which was confirmed last year, and lead the balanced regional development by intensively expanding the railroad infrastructure in areas with relatively limited transportation facilities. Additionally, the SMG will lead the development of the Gangbuk area with the strategy of moving public institutions in the Gangnam area to the Gangbuk area. The office building of the Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation will be relocated by 2024; that of the Seoul Human Resource Development Center and the Seoul Institute will be swiftly relocated. The special accounting for balanced national development, which was newly established in 2019, will also be soundly operated to invest in autonomous districts with relatively lacking social overhead capital (SOC) for living.

    The SMG will also set an implementation plan for life-friendly regional living spheres for 62 regions in downtown Seoul that have great potential and require development, step by step until next year. The effect of the balanced development of regions will be spread through surrounding areas as the SMG improves the underdevelopedness and boosts the competitiveness of each region.

    Fifth, the SMG will prepare for the future of Seoul in the post-COVID-19 era.
    With the efforts and wisdom of everyone in society are concentrated to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and recover the economy, now is the right time for pioneering the innovative eco-system and open new opportunities.

    The SMG will accelerate the concentration of the tech-based clusters of four high-value innovative industries, such as AI (Yangjae), K-Bio (Hongneung), Fintech (Yeouido), and Blockchain (Mapo). In addition, the SMG will prepare for the renaissance of Seoul-type industry by investing KRW 46.8 billion in industries that have traditional strength based in Seoul. G-Valley, the heart of the industry of Seoul where 11,000 ICT companies are concentrated, will be advanced, and the digitalization of traditional manufacturing industries, such as printing, sewing and medical, will be supported to the utmost.

    The SMG will be a strong supporter for the growth of new startup as well, with the goal of making more than 200 startups stationed in one of three Seoul Startup Hubs (in Mapo, Seongsu, and Chang-dong) advance abroad. For them to become unicorns that take an active part in the global stage, the SMG will systematically support every process from the development of technology through infrastructure to the expansion into overseas markets.

    The SMG will also invest KRW 1 trillion 100 billion until 2025 in Seoul-type New Deal policy to cultivate representative technologies that will lead the contactless, post-COVID-19 era, such as big data, network and AI. The communication right of Seoul citizens will be guaranteed by the infrastructure of the digital city, with optical networking and public Wi-Fi service called Kkachi On. The SMG will establish “Smart Seoul Data” (S-Data) as an integrated big data storage center for efficient management and using of data and introduce innovative AI in administrative services to realize a smart administration. Through addressing the digital gap, the SMG will make Seoul an inclusive smart city where every citizen can enjoy the benefit.

    Sixth, the SMG will make Seoul a leading city in responding to the climate crisis.
    Responding to the climate crisis that is threatening the survival of humans is not our choice but our necessity and duty. The SMG will realize three goals of responding to the climate crisis, addressing the inequality, and creating green jobs with Seoul-type Green New Deal policy that aims as a “2050 carbon neutral city.”

    The public sector will take the lead. Regarding the buildings that are the culprit of 70% of the emission of greenhouse gas, the SMG will implement the large-scale Public Green New Deal Remodeling project by improving the energy efficiency of 353 old public buildings. Electric/hydrogen vehicles, the eco-friendly vehicles, will also be forced to be introduced in the public sector to make Seoul the leading city in green mobility. By next year, 2,000 electric vehicle charging stations and 15 hydrogen charging stations that can be used by any citizen will be installed throughout the city.

    Additionally, the SMG will respond to the climate crisis and recover the local economies by changing the city from car-centered to people-centered. Following the construction that turned Toegye-ro into pedestrian-friendly street at the end of last year, the SMG will connect central areas of the city from Seoul Station through Gwanghwamun Square to Myeong-dong and Dongdaemun Gate with trails by conducting the Pedestrian Forest Path project of Sejong-daero and New Gwanghwamun Square project.

    As for the landfill, the SMG will do its best to secure alternative landfills as it cooperates with local governments and the Ministry of Environment. It will establish the Wide Area Resource Recovery Facility that processes 1,000 tonnes of waste per day on average to make “zero direct landfilling in Seoul.”

    Seventh, the SMG will make Seoul a city of gender equality and empower the youth.
    The SMG will activate various public protective nets for human rights so that it can make Seoul a city of gender equality and the minority can live without suffering from discrimination and prejudice.

    While the Republic of Korea is sadly ranked 1st in the income gap between genders among OECD member countries, the SMG required the income disclosure system for gender equality targeting its funded institutions in 2019, for the first time in the country. This year, the system will be required for the SMG and the University of Seoul as well. The income information between genders of each institution will be analyzed and the improvement plan will be implemented. In the future, the system will be expanded to the private sector as well to create a working environment based on gender equality.

    Seoul will also become more a safe city for women based on requirements of the field. The 24/7 crime prevention system for women’s single households, and the safe delivery and safe coming home service will be improved with better convenience. The SMG will also respond aggressively against the digital sexual offense that is in full spate.

    The SMG will be together with the youth who are finding their path in this situation where their hope for social debut is postponed due to COVID-19. This year, another 20,000 young adults will receive “Youth Allowance” and “1,000 Dream Businesses for the Youth” will allow young adults who are preparing for finding a job to build their career and those who lose their job due to COVID-19 to build new career. The “Youth Unemployment Solution” project will be newly conducted, where the vulnerable youths who are facing difficulties in finding a job can receive a professional job training, customized consultation, and job-finding. Related to the housing, which is the biggest burden for the youth, the SMG will continue support from various angles, such as lease deposit for newlyweds, monthly rent for the youth, house for the youth near subway stations, and rental houses for the youth and newlyweds.

    3. The SMG will endeavor for the stable operation of the city and fair voting.

    Honorable Seoul citizens!
    We appreciate your efforts this past year.

    It is thanks to Seoul citizens that the SMG can talk about the “new normal” in this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis and unheard-of hardship caused by the vacancy of Seoul mayor. The most shining heroes and heroines of Seoul were citizens who trusted the SMG and became the subjects of disinfection from where they are. We appreciate your cooperation once again.

    We are grateful to medical and disinfection staff, and SMG employees who namelessly sacrificed and devoted themselves. They are the evidence of our hope that we can break through any hardship if we have the community spirit based on solidarity and collaboration. We believe that this moment when all members of our society are struggling together as a team will be engraved as the most dynamic and dramatic traces in the history of great transformation in the future.

    The SMG will step forward shoulder to shoulder with citizens, toward the day we can talk about hope again, the day we will recover our daily life in which we can live without a face mask.

    The SMG will do its best to tighten discipline among government officials in the system under the action mayor to prevent the disorder in the organization. All the officials of the SMG will be united to operate the municipal government stably, all year round. The SMG will also pursue the core projects that it promised to citizens, such as the New Gwanghwamun Square, the supply of public houses, and construction of public Wi-Fi. It will be reborn into an organization based on gender equality by continuously monitoring problematic cultural and internal structural factors.

    Above all, the SMG will make the utmost effort to prepare for the by-election on April 7 so that we can have a clean and fair election. All the officials of the SMG will keep the political impartiality and do their best to fully prepare for the new normal life for the citizens through the new leadership that is required for the new era and by citizens.
    Wishing you all a happy new year. Thank you.