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  • Seoul and San Francisco Promote Cultural and Tourist Facilities Discount Services for their Citizens

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    Mayor Park Won Soon met with San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee on September 26 at the San Francisco City Hall and signed an MOU on tourism and culture, with the goal of strengthening exchange and cooperation between the two cities and promoting discount services at cultural and tourist facilities.

    The MOU mainly focuses on the exchange of discount services at various cultural and tourist facilities of the two cities, including museums and gallery exhibitions, as well as the exchange of the cities’ symbols.

    The two mayors also discussed issues related to sharing economy and multicultural policies. Concerning sharing economy, Mayor Park gained a number of ideas and inspirations that will aid in realizing “Sharing City Seoul”. The ideas are based on the experiences of San Francisco, the innovative city where sharing economy was born. Also, the two mayors discussed urban development based on innovation and sharing economy, introducing a number of policies and projects implemented by the two cities.

    In March 2012, San Francisco launched the world’s first Sharing Economy Working Group , in cooperation with companies such as Airbnb and non-profit organizations such as Shareable, and the city is currently pursuing policies related to sharing economy. RelayRides (car-sharing), Airbnb (home-sharing), and Taskrabbit (a marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to other people in the neighborhood) are some of the major sharing economy services that were launched in San Francisco.

    Since becoming sister cities in May 1976, both San Francisco and Seoul have maintained continuous exchanges with each other through visitations of delegations from both cities as well as the dispatch of staff. About 31.3 percent of San Francisco’s population is Asian, and 14.1 percent is Hispanic, which together account for about half of the population, making San Francisco an open city of rich cultural history where various races and ethnic groups can boldly express their opinions. Mayor Edwin Lee, inaugurated in 2011, is the first Asian mayor of San Francisco.

    After the meeting, Mayor Park visited the headquarters of Twitter and met with Twitter CCO Gabriel Stricker. Currently, Mayor Park has about 905,000 followers on Twitter.

    Twitter is a major social networking service with around 270 million users who tweet every month, and about 500 million tweets are posted every day. Since the fifth term of the popularly-elected mayor of Seoul began in 2011, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has announced “Citizen Participation and Cooperation Based on Communication” as its major policy foundation, and is currently managing a total of 104 Twitter accounts (40 main departments, 64 project offices).

    Mayor Park and Gabriel Stricker discussed ways to expand exchange and enhance cooperation between Seoul Metropolitan Government and Twitter, such as the development of ways to quickly spread the use of “Twitter Lifeline”. Created in July 2013, “Twitter Lifeline” is a service that was developed by Seoul Metropolitan Government and Twitter Korea to allow smartphone users to easily check real-time information on disasters, such as flooding or snowstorms, when they are unable to receive information on such disasters through public TV or radio broadcasts.

    Mayor Park also visited the production plant where Tesla’s Model S electric car is made, and personally tested the Supercharger, the fastest photovoltaic energy charging station. Between 2009 and 2013, Seoul Metropolitan Government established the use of 1,211 electric cars as official vehicles, electric buses, and call taxis for people with disabilities. Also, since September this year, the city government has been operating ten eco-friendly, emission-free electric taxis, which require only 13 percent of the fuel cost of LPG taxis.

    “We will do our best to increase the number of opportunities our citizens have to experience culture and the arts through the tourism and cultural cooperation of Seoul and San Francisco,” said Mayor Park Won Soon. He also added, “I will also pursue policies that utilize Seoul’s uniqueness to revitalize culture and tourism in Seoul, and do my best to turn Seoul into an ideal city for tourism and sightseeing and a hospitable city where people are warm and friendly. Starting with the culture and tourism industry, Seoul will work with San Francisco to create a collaborative system through which both cities will be able to grow together.”