Opening ceremony of BBP (Beyond Big Plans) International Conference
Date March 12, 2015 Venue Multi-purpose Hall, Seoul City Hall
Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be here today. I am Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul. Welcome to Seoul, a city of a two-thousand-year history and culture. Honorable Mr. Lody Embrechts, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Korea, Mr. Joerg Al Reding, the Swiss Ambassador to South Korea, Mr. Milica Bajic Brkovic, the president of ISOCARP, the International Society of City and Regional Planners, Mr. Ric Stephens, the president-elect of ISOCARP, Mr. Choi Mak-jung, the president of Korea Planners Association, Professor Kim Ki-ho, who is today’s speaker, urban planning experts from home and abroad, and all those who are attending the conference with a great interest in urban regeneration today.
Korea has achieved rapid growth and development after emerging from the ashes of the Korean War in 1950. The country has struggled through a history of compressed modernization, achieving industrialization and democratization in a period of only half a century. It became known as a little dragon of East Asia, receiving the global spotlight, and has grown at an unprecedented rate, going from an aid recipient to one of the major top economic donors in the world. At the center, there has been the city of Seoul. Over a mere 60 years, a population of one million has soared to over 10 million, transforming Seoul into a world-class megacity undergoing a rapid urbanization and a remarkable development.
However, there have been numerous side effects, including urban issues, behind that glorious economic development. Particularly, the entire dismantling of a city driven by the urban plan of redevelopment and reconstruction has not only threatened the livelihood of the residents but also local national resources, history, culture, traditions, and memories of childhood, like small back alleys. Furthermore, the city has struggled with financial difficulties and repeated conflicts with inhabitants.
Since taking office, I have put more effort into achieving a paradigm shift and establishing a fresh vision and policy direction for urban regeneration than any other plans. We have made it through conflicts and problems with each business and accomplished governance in collaboration with the citizens, thereby successfully transforming ours into an urban plan that puts the citizens first.
After working on our goal of making a plan that will never change, even after 100 years, the SMG finally established the ‘2030 Seoul Plan,’ a future urban plan created together with citizens. The ‘Urban Zone of Life’ project, which will be completed along with 3,000 residents, is also currently underway. Early this year, we set up the ‘City Regeneration Headquarters’ to start the citizen-centered urban development project in earnest, a project aimed at providing a pleasant place to live and work.
The task of urban regeneration securing a harmonious co-existence between humans and nature, history and culture, as well as a sustainable future is not a problem faced only by Seoul. This is a serious issue that big cities all around the world are facing. That is why the BBP conference has come into the spotlight. I hope that this conference will allow us to share knowledge and experience on global trends of urban planning and suggest alternatives for a new direction. We also await your in-depth opinions and advice on how the city of Seoul needs to proceed. It is my hope that we will be able to find ways to create a pleasant city and a bright future for our descendants as well as for the future of Seoul and the world.
I wish for the success of the BBP conference, and hope all the participants also have a chance to enjoy the city’s nature, traditions, and culture as well as its reputation as a global city. I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have visited Seoul once again. Thank you very much.