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International Exchange

  • Seoul Earns KRW 1 Trillion in 10 Years through Policy Exports

  • International Exchange SMG 2123

    [Seoul Sets an Example for Public Administration Worldwide]

    • Seoul shares its tips on and policy programs for urban management with 15 cities in 14 countries
    • Seoul exports its world-leading policy programs to developing countries in need
    • Waterworks: Infrastructure construction for Brunei’s PMB Project and waterworks reform in Chanchamayo, Peru
    • Urban railways: Subway projects in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Thailand
    • Transportation: Cities in Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines

    Seoul, at the center of international attention

    A major metropolis with a population of over 10 million, Seoul has been around for two millennia, including 500 years in the Hanseong era of Baekje, and is the world’s oldest capital city.

    The rich and illustrious history of Seoul is evident in the countless artifacts that have been, and continue to be, excavated throughout the Four Great Gates area of the city.

    International visitors who visit Seoul consistently praise its unique mix of tradition and modernity, while the city aspires to become not only the best city in Asia but also the best in the entire world.

    Exporting more than cars and ships

    Export figures and trade balances frequently make news headlines in Korea’s manufacturing-centered economy. No matter where you travel in the world, you will likely come across Korean-made cars and other manufactured goods with the label, “Made in Korea,” an indication of the continuous growth of Korea’s global exports.

    Over the last decade, Seoul has earned over KRW 1 trillion by exporting something that is intangible and invisible: namely, its innovative policy programs. It is hard to believe that policy programs could generate such substantial revenue for a city, let alone be exported at all. Nonetheless, Seoul has done it. The innovative models of urban transportation, waterworks, and e-government policy programs that Seoul has developed over the years are now being exported to countries worldwide.

    According to Seoul, since 2006, the city has exported its policy programs to 32 cities in 24 countries worldwide on a total of 38 occasions. The Korean businesses that participated in the process of transferring and exporting policy programs to these cities generated a total of KRW 992.77 billion in revenue. Including operating profits and assistance-type policy exports, earnings likely exceeded KRW 1 trillion. Among Asian cities, particularly Singapore and Japan, there is intense competition in the area of policy exports. Over the last few decades since the end of the Korean War, Seoul has achieved remarkable growth, rising as a major player in this competition and becoming an ideal partner for many aspiring cities in the developing world.

    Exporting a wide variety of policy programs

    Seoul continues to accumulate and systematize expertise in urban administration and management. The area in which Seoul has seen the greatest progress is that of waterworks, with the city now being recognized as a pioneer of urban waterworks worldwide.

    San Ramon Water Purification Center in Chanchamayo, Peru Arisu bottles, containing Seoul’s praised tap water


    SMG’s Office of Waterworks Management is currently preparing to expand into the global water market, based on its confidence in the quality of Seoul’s water. The office intends to establish partnerships with private-sector businesses and utilize Korea’s Economic Development and Cooperation Fund (EDCF) to secure official development assistance for waterworks projects in developing countries. To this end, the office continues to invite waterworks policymakers and experts from overseas and dispatch its own engineers abroad to participate in advanced training and networking sessions.

    Seoul’s transportation administration around the world

    Seoul began engaging in policy exports with its e-government and transportation programs in 2004, but the number of policy programs Seoul exports has seen a dramatic increase over the last couple of years, in response to the rising demand in Southeast Asia. In particular, Seoul’s public transportation policy has enjoyed a surge in popularity throughout Southeast and Southwest Asia, culminating in the signing a contract between Seoul and Brunei, worth KRW 13.5 billion, for infrastructure development consultation concerning the Pulau Muara Besar (PMB) Project.

    Location of Brunei A view of Brunei


    The PMB Project involves building a bridge (2.8 kilometers) and a connecting road (2.2 kilometers) to join Muara and the island of Muara Besar, in addition to the installation of waterworks pipelines. The project is estimated to cost a total of KRW 500 billion. Under the contract it has signed with the project developers, Seoul will consult the involved parties on the overall design of the project, evaluation of developers, auditing and management of the development process, and maintenance activities. This project is representative of the worldwide renown Seoul has garnered through its public transportation policy.

    Transportation system continues to lead Seoul’s policy exports

    Seoul’s public transportation system, which underwent major reforms in 2004, now accounts for 70 percent of the city’s policy exports. LG CNS, Korea Smart Card, and SK C&C, which participated in the 2004 reform of the bus lanes and public transfer system in Seoul, have been playing leading roles in these exports. LG CNS, in particular, has so far earned KRW 644.5 billion by signing contracts for public transportation system projects with Bogota (Colombia) and Athens (Greece).<.p>

    Transit fare device of LG CNS at the El Dorado Station in Bogota, Colombia TransMilenio, Bogota


    Korea Smart Card has generated KRW 48.25 billion in additional revenue by signing contracts for business consultations, supply of equipment, and development of a bus management system with the authorities of Wellington (New Zealand), Bangkok (Thailand), Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Moreover, the company brings in an additional KRW 400 to 500 million every year from the public transit users of Wellington.

    Seoul Metro has signed contracts for design services and consultations, amounting to a total of KRW 2.12 billion, with Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam) and Bangladesh for the construction of urban railways.

    Assistance-type policy exports to developing countries have also been successful. Seoul has carried out administrative exports worth a total of KRW 4.0144 billion to 12 countries, with support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and Ministry of Interior.

    As Seoul receives an increasing number of civil servants and delegations from around the world hoping to benchmark the city’s advanced policy models, its administrative exports will likely increase in the coming years. Over the last three years, civil servants from over 120 countries have visited Seoul to learn about its policies. In particular, a total of 16,756 international visitors visited Seoul’s TOPIS, a transportation information center, between 2005 and June 2016.

    The success Seoul has achieved in managing its compressed and astonishing development over less than half century has given new hope to the cities of developing countries worldwide. Meanwhile, Seoul’s policy exports continue to increase the nation’s wealth, create jobs overseas, and enhance the Seoul brand.