The Mayor’s speech at Shandong Provincial Party School in China
Date November 3, 2014. | Venue Shandong Provincial Party School in China
Honorable Executive President of Shandong Provincial Party School Zhao Qiang and students! I am Park Wonsoon, the Mayor of Seoul. I’m very glad to meet you in China’s Shandong Province, which is so close to Seoul in Korea that I feel that you are my brothers and sisters.
Shandong Province is very familiar to me. I often visited China long before I took office as mayor. I cherish those memories of walking around the Temple of Confucius and other museums, as well as nourishing my spirit at Mount Taishan in Shandong Province. Today, I have made another wonderful memory here. From what I understand, the Party School in China trains elite students, who will lead the nation in the future. I am highly honored to speak in front of you talented individuals, the heirs of Confucius.
Thousands of years ago, the Beixin culture, the Longshan culture, and other civilizations thrived in Shandong Province, one of the cradles of civilization. Shandong Province was home to countless philosophers and scholars during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods as well as the source of Chinese and East Asian thought. The great philosopher Confucius was born in Qufu, Shandong.
Mencius, a thinker of innate goodness, Mo-tzu, a philosopher of universal love, and Sun-tzu, a great war strategist, all came from Shandong Province.
Korea and China have exchanged philosophy, culture, science, and technology and we have built an important relationship over many years of work, like the Yellow River, which flows thousands of kilometers through China and finally reaches the ocean in Shandong Province. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Korea in July and during his lecture at Seoul National University, he said, “China and Korea helped each other during difficult times. As the Chinese saying goes, fish moisten each other with spittle when the river dries up. Korea and China helped each other when faced with difficulties.
I also have learned a lot from Chinese history, philosophy, and culture, and I have benefited greatly from them. From an early age, I enjoyed reading the Analects of Confucius, Mencius, Eighteen Histories in Brief, and the Records of the Three Kingdoms. That is not all; by reading the poems of Li Po and Tu Fu, I learned what it means to be human and how to live a proper life.
Above all, the concepts of “the world is for all” and “great harmony,” which can be seen in the Conveyance of Rites chapter of the Book of Rites has fuelled my dedication to social reform movements under the banner of “better together with people” and “alternative world,” which I dreamed about as a student, and later as a lawyer. I believe that “the dream of China” Xi Jinping preaches is a dream of re-establishing China as the center of human civilization and making a better world where people can live in harmony and lead a happy life.
Seoul has the same dream. I do not think that the dream of Seoul, the dream of China, and the dream of Shandong are very different. The dream of Seoul, the dream of China, and the dream of Shandong will ultimately go from being individual dreams to our collective dream. I believe that this dream is the path to pursuing a dream of living a happy life together and the essence of living in a harmonious society. In this sense, I stand in front of you today in hopes of working with you to make a concerted effort to realize the dream of Seoul, share these efforts made by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, find solutions to problems we may encounter, and map out our vision for the future together.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world is undergoing rapid urbanization. According to the U.N, half of the world population lives in cities. By 2050, this figure is predicted to rise to up to 70 percent. China is in the midst of a vast process of urbanization. Over 50 percent of Chinese citizens have already become urbanized, and estimates are that 60 percent will be by 2020. People are coming to cities for a better job and a better life. An increasing number of people are moving to cities, transforming cities into hubs of creativity, development, and innovation. The greatest inventions in the history of humankind have been made in cities. However, behind the economic success and prosperity of cities lie a variety of less pleasant issues such as poverty, pollution, environmental degradation, energy crises, housing shortages, traffic, crime, and unemployment. Many global issues that we encounter are actually a result of urbanization. This is why cities need transformation.
Seoul, with a population of 10 million people, also suffers from problems associated with urbanization. As I am sure you are aware, Korea achieved rapid economic growth during a very short period of time. It was fortunate enough to accomplish industrialization and democratization over a very short time, the so-called “miracle on the Han River.” However, in the years following the Korean War, people in Seoul were in a dire situation.
The city was woefully lacking roads, water, and a sewage system. The city was unhygienic, and an epidemic ravaged the city. Back then, Korea’s GNP per capita stood at about 82 dollars. Its unemployment rate was very high. However, Seoul has developed into a world-class city over roughly the last 30 years. Seoul became urbanized rapidly, and has succeeded in establishing an effective infrastructure, expanding in size thanks to plans such as the 10-year plan for Seoul governance led by government and civilian experts.
Even though Korea has experienced rapid economic growth, this success has cast a dark shadow. Regional imbalances, class conflicts, reckless city development, and environmental pollution have all emerged as urgent issues. Some think that placing an importance mainly on quantitative growth has resulted in disregarding sustainability and quality of life. I believe that the Chinese view of scientific development came from the same concern. I ask you to imagine with me. Imagine the picture of how I have looked one, two, and three years after taking office. There are lines on my face, and I have lost a lot of hair. Don’t you think so? My very face shows the many challenges and conflicts of interest facing Seoul and its 10 million people. Three years ago when I took the office of mayor, I believed, as the saying “all problems related to people can only be solved by people” goes, we should find solutions to our problems together. As the Chinese saying goes, “No matter how beautiful the lotus is, it cannot be in full bloom without the help of green leaves,” cooperation is very important.
Therefore, during my inaugural speech, I announced that “the citizens are the mayors,” and I promised to become a mayor who would work together with the citizens and improve their welfare. To this end, I identified governance and innovation as basic principles of city administration. When Chinese President Xi Jinping recently placed an emphasis on innovation, communication, and modernized governance, I was deeply impressed. In terms of governance, I think communicating with citizens is the most important. During my New Year’s address, I announced the slogan of “a better life for citizens through communication.” I truly believe that communicating with citizens is the first and best step towards solving all of our problems.
To communicate effectively, we must first learn how to listen. The Seoul Metropolitan Government often holds “Listening Policy Debates,” with the aim of listening to the voices of citizens. We invite citizens to debate and listen to their opinions when we have urgent issues to address, and we formulate policies for the future. Listening is not simply hearing. We listen to their opinions, thoroughly examine them, and make them into policies. From my inauguration through to October, about 12,000 citizens participated in 88 rounds of debates on issues including “countermeasures against ultra-fine particles,” and their opinions were all reflected into municipal policies.
Moreover, deliberations, in which we hold discussion with experts and embrace opposing views to improve our policies, serve as a further forum for public debate.
There is a proverb, “To see is to believe.” As this suggests, I strongly believe that meeting citizens and listening to their opinions outside of the office is a very important principle for governance. After I took office, “the Mayor’s Onsite Office” was set up to tackle issues that citizens had. I have visited more than 120 sites. The first time I visited a place where conflicts occurred, I was almost grabbed by the collar by citizens, jeered at, and told to resign. However, as I worked hard to listen to their voices and find solutions along with them, people began approaching me, saying they had become fans of mine. I think that stepping out of the office and meeting citizens provides solutions to problems we have, which has convinced me that people have the answers.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government identifies governance with citizens as the basic principle for its administration. Citizens, experts, companies, and the government are all collaborating for the city administration. I think the same is true of China. China places an emphasis on the importance of cooperative politics in the belief that deliberation and discussion with citizens should be the center of politics.
Innovation is another crucial principle for the administration of Seoul. Immediately after I took office as mayor, the Seoul Metropolitan Government was the first to set up a Seoul Innovation Planning Division to revamp the administrative system among local governments. We also formed a new office called “Conflict Coordinator” to minimize conflict of interests among our 10 million citizens.
We achieved innovations in our administrative system, improving the transparency of the city administration and strengthening its responsibility by opening all information to the public and sharing it with them. For example, 1,438 types of data offered by the Seoul Open Data Plaza, along with the automatic system of disclosing information on the city administration to the public, allow any Seoul citizen to receive and use about 50,000 pieces of information on the city administration. Now, the Seoul Open Data Plaza has become the center of creating new information and values.
Distinguished guests, we are now moving into a new era of rapid change. In particular, the digital revolution, which has already become a part of our everyday life, is changing the streams of the world into great rapids. The entire world is becoming a hyper connected society, where people, devices, and the on-line and off-line world are all connected through networks to communicate with each other.
There is a Chinese saying from a historical story, “Change as the world changes.” As I am sure you understand, it means to change in accordance with changes in the world. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has been establishing an electronic government system in response to the current movement toward the digital era, and has been making continuous efforts and innovation to meet the changing needs of the city and its citizens.
The E-Governance Institute of Rutgers University in the US announces the results of the Global E-Governance Survey every two years. Since 2003, Seoul has been the only city to take the no.1 ranking six times in a row.
On the fifth day of last month, the third conference of the World e-Governments Organization of Cities and Local Governments, WeGO, was held in Chengdu, Sichuan. Holding the presidency, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has committed itself to spreading and sharing the e-governance system of Seoul with cities around the world. Seoul is passing on its vision and knowhow as a bona fide leading city in e-governance. Seoul has the world’s best wired and wireless communication environment, with a smartphone penetration rate of 85%. The city has already established its own administrative network, e-Seoul Net, which connects 36 major institutions of Seoul using subway sections, the first in the world to do so. In 2011, the communication network for citizens, u-Seoul Net, which provides Internet services such as Wi-Fi and CCTV, was established for voices and videos. As a result, Seoul citizens are provided with an environment in which they can use public services anywhere, anytime.
In addition, Seoul is making efforts to address major urban problems such as welfare, economy, and traffic in a scientific and reasonable manner using IT technology. We are implementing a data-based scientific administration by integrating big data into governance.
The Owl Bus, the late-night bus service, is a terrific combination of IT technology and citizens’ participation. In Seoul, the only public transportation after midnight used to be a taxi. As both subways and buses closed down around midnight, citizens who finished work after midnight had no choice but to take a taxi, which is relatively expensive. To resolve this issue, Seoul created the Owl Bus service. In the process of determining the routes, the government concluded an agreement with mobile-service companies to analyze over 3 billion cases of telephone traffic as well as big data of 5 million cases of late-night taxi use in order to begin the Owl Bus service.
When the service was first implemented, there were around 50 thousand “likes,” 3,353 comments, posts of suggestions, and complaints on my social media account. Completed in this manner, the Owl Bus has topped the list of the top 10 citizens’ favorite stories of the year, and its nine routes are now travelled by an average of over six thousand citizens daily.
In the world, a massive amount of information is being produced not only by computers and smartphones, but also by device sensors. For example, it has become much easier to search for a missing child using digital methods. When a child is missing, a GPS bracelet worn by the missing child can transmit information on the child as well as the parents and their contact information.
Wearable devices and the Internet of Things will change our lives in innovative ways. When you step on a bus, a chip installed on your shoe will pay the fare. If you go grocery shopping wearing a chip-mounted glove, the price and freshness of the meat, fish, and vegetables will immediately be sent to you.
Seoul will become the city that leads these changes in the world. The Seoul we are dreaming of is a city that improves citizens’ lives and addresses urban problems by accepting changes in technology more actively and applying them to resolving problems in reality, creating digital-integrated policies of resolution. Seoul as the global digital capital is another dream of Seoul that my administration is working towards making a reality. I strongly believe that to achieve this dream, it is critical to establish cooperation between private and public sectors, which in fact forms the base of the administration policies of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. For practical and efficient private-public cooperation, the role of the public sector needs to be reestablished. Public officials in the front lines of administration should adapt to the times and keep pace with this changing reality.
I consider both politics and administration to be services. My favorite politician and literary figure in Song Dynasty China, Fan Zhongyan, wrote in “Yueyang Lou Ji” that we must have “concern before all the people in the world and enjoy after all the people in the world.” Public officials should provide citizens with services with this mindset.
I understand that the Chinese Government is taking the initiative in the improvement of the moral fiber of public officials. For example, President Xi Jinping has been pushing for anti-corruption projects since his inauguration, which has deeply inspired Korea. Many empirical cases prove that breaking privileges and achieving anti-corruption measures improve transparency and reduce transaction costs, creating a significant economic benefit. I understand that the Fifth Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China last month adopted a policy of governance based on laws, and is proceeding with a policy to address corruption and achieve a clean government through laws and regulations.
Allow me to show you some cases of Seoul. They are policies to address corruption problems through conventional and institutional ways, which are being implemented for the same purpose. The Seoul Government is conducting its administration with transparency as a top priority. The online disclosure system of civil services has addressed suspicions in areas that have been suspected of dishonest secret deals between public officials, and has appealed to people by disclosing the online handling process of civil affairs with possibilities of irregularities, such as licensing applications.
The policy of active disclosure of information is significantly contributing to the operation of a transparent administration. 11,603 pieces of administrative information have been broadcast and electronic document approvals have been disclosed for the first time. In addition, proceedings of 145 official board meetings have been displayed and major meetings chaired by myself are aired in real time online.
Furthermore, data of all the 2,300 budget activities of Seoul and related information relating to the site such as location of the construction sites, the estimated construction time, the people in charge for all construction projects of over 500 million won, and statements of all operating expenses are disclosed. The clean construction system Seoul established was awarded the UN public administration prize in 2013, the first construction system to be awarded that honor.
Also, measures for public official innovation, known as the “Park Won Soon Law”, implement strict penalties if a safety inspection directly involving citizens’ lives is incorrectly reported. Won Soon’s Hotline, the report portal for irregularities of public officials, is a system created to encourage reporting of public officials’ irregularities. Located on the home page of the Seoul official website, the hotline has received public officials’ irregularities and, after assessment by the committee, awarded monetary incentives up to 2 billion won, equivalent to approximately 11.4 million yuan, to the informants. These efforts have allowed Seoul to be selected as the city of the greatest transparency and the top civil service in the assessment of the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission and the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea. Although the city has the most public servants in the country, it is also becoming a city known for its integrity. The public officials of Seoul are bringing about innovation in public offices.
All the projects mentioned here are being carried out not only by the government but also with the cooperation of the private and public sectors. A cycle of governance being improved by communication, participation, and innovation, which are in turn created by good governance are leading the changes in Seoul.
As a result, Seoul has become the sixth most competitive city in the world. It has been ranked no. 1 in the global e-governance survey, a top 5 convention city in tourism, and the best city for international business meetings for two consecutive years. We have more than 10 million tourists visiting Seoul every year. Seoul is now a global city visited by the world.
The best practices of the administration of Seoul are exported to 22 cities in 21 nations, and attract different nations and cities into Seoul. Information on our practices is shared with other cities in the world through a Seoul policy archive portal, and an international exchange team, an international urban development cooperation team, and an overseas city cooperation team have been organized to take the lead in addressing issues together with cities located overseas.
The world is focusing on practical exchanges between cities, regions, people, and countries. Urban problems are not limited to one country or one city. This is because the problems facing Seoul, New York, Beijing, and Tokyo have crossed the borders between cities and countries to emerge as global issues we all have to solve together. Seoul and Beijing are working together to respond to climate change, and that approximately 1,000 member cities in 81 countries of the ICEI, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, are cooperating to achieve sustainable cities. These represent empirical approaches where cities are actively resolving the problems facing cities.
I am therefore of the opinion that since administration is in direct charge of citizens’ lives, it should be the most empirical and the most practical. China has a long empirical tradition and history, including the famous black-cat-or-white-cat theory.
Distinguished guests, Seoul still has a long way to go, a great deal to learn and improve upon. That is why I ask for your assistance and wisdom. Shandong has had a friendship so close to Korea that it was once said that you could hear the roosters and dogs of Shandong in Korea. We also have a history of exchange reaching all the way back to the time of the Shillabang, where Shilla people, the ancient Koreans, were living in groups since the eighth century, as well as the Chishan Fahuayuan, the temple of the Shilla Dynasty. The trust built up on the tradition between the two regions might have played a role in Shandong accommodating 7,744 Korean corporations, the largest number in China.
Shandong has a special relationship with Seoul as well. Since the two regions established a friendly partnership in 2008, they have friendly relationships in various areas such as the economy, tourism, and the environment. In addition, I will meet the governor of Shandong to have a comprehensive and in-depth discussion on exchange measures to bring practical benefits to both citizens and corporations in our two regions. The military strategist from Shandong Sun Tzu wrote a famous line in “the Art of War,” as if predicting the relationship between Shandong and Seoul. The phrase “to cross the river on the same boat” represents today and tomorrow for Shandong and Seoul.
I hope that today’s encounter of Shandong and Seoul creates a small spark and a small step, and leads to a new hope. I hope that the doors will open to new horizons where we keep sharing discussions and contemplation on sustainable urban management strategies. Beyond that, I hope that Shandong and Seoul join the peace in the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia and work together. Thank you so much for listenin