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[2013] Mayor’s Speech

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  • Seoul will be a pillar of support in the lives of the citizens.

  • SMG 1057

    Seoul will be a pillar of support in the lives of the citizens.

    2013 New Year’s Address

    Date: January 2, 2013
    Venue: Sejong Center for the Performing Arts

    Beloved citizens of Seoul and family of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,

    The Year of the Snake has begun. Happy New Year! The snake is a symbol of abundance and fertility, and I sincerely hope it will be a year of prosperity for all of our citizens.

    I recently took a moment of reflection as I gathered my thoughts to prepare my New Year’s address, and I remembered the pledges I made during my mayoral campaign. My first promise to you was to become “the first mayor to change your life”. Have I kept this promise? Did I provide some support for your livelihoods as I promised?

    In 2012, I did my best to offer you as much support as I could.

    Last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government family and I provided free, green school lunches to 590,000 students, as part of our three major policy tasks—welfare, safety, and jobs. We halved the tuition of the University of Seoul, pushing tuition to below KRW 2 million. And, in May, 1,133 indirectly employed irregular workers were appointed as regular employees, with 6,231 more soon to follow.

    Furthermore, we achieved three innovations in our city’s administration: “On-site administration,” “Open administration,” and “Twitter administration”. In addition, we met some 5,400 citizens at 41 sessions of the Listening Policy Workshop, and held meetings with dozens of experts in order to formulate and review various policies. Such cooperation acted as a balance weight that enabled us to achieve successful and fair coordination. This is the power of “On-site administration”.

    Using advanced IT technology, we launched “Open City Administration 2.0,” which enabled us to achieve our goal of “Open administration”. We also adopted a record-keeping system to save every detail in the mayor’s daily schedule, and by publishing a white paper on every project, we shared the details of all project progress and results with the public. Above all, the installation of the “Information Communication Square” enabled us to share the public data of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Currently, 64 types and 2,733 pieces of administrative information are open to all citizens. Also, the world’s first “Twitter administration,” or SNS administration, has transformed not only the lives of Seoul’s citizens but the city’s administration itself. All citizens’ complaints and requests are managed in real-time by the Social Media Center, or SMC. There were some citizens who said they often checked my Twitter page on snowy days, where they could find information on snow removal for each neighborhood. The site was frequently updated with photos of citizens clearing snow themselves, and is connected with the city’s snow clearing network. This means that we have established governance that is making the city safer, and as such, the citizens and the Seoul Metropolitan Government are changing each other.

    The Seoul Metropolitan Government family and I have achieved many more results that I have not mentioned today, but here is simply not enough time to mention them all. In addition to policies related to last year’s three major policy goals—welfare, safety, and jobs—several new policies came across my desk every day that clearly showed the excellent capability of our staff. I am very proud of them, and I thank them for their outstanding performance.

    Yet, my heart remains heavy with regret. Although we have toiled hard and put forward our best efforts, there are still many more tasks that lay ahead of us, and I expect that they will be extremely difficult. Above all, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s finances are in deep trouble. As you saw in the news in October, the city’s debt increased 2.9 times over the course of ten years. As of 2011, its debt amounted to approximately KRW 20 trillion, with the daily interest reaching KRW 2 billion. If this were a private business, it would be in grave danger of bankruptcy. Furthermore, the household debt of the Korean people is about KRW 1,100 trillion, with about 32 percent of all bank loans concentrated in Seoul. These numbers are terrifying, because they clearly indicate how hard the lives of our citizens really are. In this situation, where can we find hope? Can we find hope together? Will I be able to keep my first promise of becoming the “first mayor to change the lives of the citizens”?

    In 2013, the livelihoods of ordinary people will be the priority.

    Beloved citizens of Seoul,

    This year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will be fully committed to providing support to the people. As was the case last year, we are overwhelmed with requests for relief, appeals for help, and suggestions for joint survival measures, and there is room for nearly nothing else. The Seoul administration in 2013 will dedicate itself to supporting the livelihoods of our citizens, and to achieve this goal, we will put the needs of ordinary people first. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and I will focus all our efforts and resources on prudently preparing for the approaching financial crisis and protecting the livelihoods of the people.

    Seoul’s welfare budget for this year has surpassed KRW 6 trillion for the first time ever, accounting for almost 30 percent of the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s total budget. I have high hopes that this much-needed funding will be of great assistance to our citizens. Also, we will continue to develop the “Seoul Citizen Welfare Standard,” an initiative to improve the lives of Seoul’s citizens that was announced just yesterday. We will actively pursue “Healthy Seoul 36.5,” a master plan for public health that includes the provision of mandatory vaccinations to 440,000 Korean children free of charge and the adoption of a family dentist system for 30,000 students and children of low-income families. For those living in abject poverty in Seoul, the citizens who have fallen through the cracks of the welfare system, we adopted the “Seoul-type Basic Livelihood Security System,” and by providing livelihood expenses to 40,000 people, we are providing a minimum level of security in their lives. Furthermore, we will help provide and improve childcare services for the children of Seoul by continuously expanding national and public childcare facilities. Having established 100 national and public childcare facilities in 2013, we now have at least two such facilities in each neighborhood of Seoul. Additionally, we believe that no citizen should go without medical treatment do to a lack of money. So, this year, we will install public health centers in areas of Seoul with high densities of vulnerable people. We will also operate a hospital providing nursing services; thereby establishing a new model for public hospitals.

    Beloved citizens of Seoul,

    No citizen should want to take their own life, for whatever reason. As chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, this is something I truly hope to achieve. The “Ordinance for the Creation of a Culture to Prevent Suicide and Respect Life in Seoul,” which was preannounced on December 27, stipulates the rights and obligations of the citizens and the responsibilities of the mayor regarding suicide prevention. Based on this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will establish a suicide prevention plan every year and provide support for each autonomous district. We will provide focused case management services to those at greatest risk of suicide and build a 24-hour crisis response system. Through these efforts, we will be fully committed to strengthening the capacity of regional society, and thereby constructing a suicide prevention safety net.

    Alleviating the growing anxiety over housing is also a main priority related to the livelihood of the people. As such, we will do our best to provide public rental housing in Seoul in 2013. Household debt is the next major issue. By expanding and operating the Financial Welfare Center, we will actively provide financial consulting services and a financial recovery program for all citizens. In particular, we plan to reinforce the “Measures to Eradicate Infringements on the Livelihoods of the People” in seven areas that have the greatest impact on people’s lives, including loans and unpaid wages. This will be a comprehensive effort comprised of prevention, continuous monitoring, and support. We will provide the support needed to prevent citizens in difficulty from falling deeper into a greater abyss of despair.

    We will also actively generate quality jobs in Seoul. The government will focus its efforts on providing vocational training programs and support for setting up businesses for youth, as well as job-seeking support for those in low-income brackets. We will provide continuous support and follow-up management by thoroughly analyzing the progress made regarding the payment of wages. But, we cannot do this alone. So, we will operate the “Youth Job Hub,” which will provide a network for youth and conduct research and develop policies on youth employment and jobs. Today, citizens over the age of 65 account for about one million of Seoul’s population, with one in three of the city’s population being seniors or soon-to-be seniors. Their happiness is a major variable that influences the happiness of all of Seoul’s citizens, so it is the duty of our generation to ensure that they are cared for. To support this effort, we will open the Seoul Senior Center, which will be tasked with supporting them in determining the course of the second chapter in their lives. Also, we will devote greater effort toward creating elderly-friendly jobs and making Seoul a city where senior citizens can spend the rest of their days in happiness.

    Seoul will innovate in 2013.

    Beloved, honorable citizens of Seoul,

    If we really want to help each other, first we must innovate. We must create new lives for ourselves and dream new dreams. To this end, we plan to build a social economic infrastructure, and the Social Enterprise Development Center will be launched as the hub of a new social economic network. We will also create and operate a social investment fund through which we hope to realize greater social value and continuously generate new jobs. This fund will be created jointly by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and private resources, and will be used to invest in the lives of the citizens.

    In addition, we will work to vitalize cooperatives and create an environment that fosters their growth. Regions with strong cooperative bases offer security in the lives of their residents, and are moving forward despite the economic crisis in Europe. Recognizing this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will construct an education support system for cooperatives, operate a consulting support center, and select social cooperative models with a strong public nature.

    Seoul’s innovation will go on, and will eventually be realized in all sectors of society. The basic purpose of innovation is to bring order to disorder, and make the irrational rational. Pursing this goal in our administration, this year we will achieve greater innovation in more sectors.

    First, we will achieve innovation in Seoul’s sidewalks. I proclaim the year 2013 as the “Year of the Ten Sidewalk Commandments”. Sidewalks are built with taxes paid by the citizens, and are a sign of the quality of the administration. Therefore, a rational and innovative sidewalk management system will be our first step toward making Seoul a more pedestrian-friendly city.

    Innovation in information communication will complete the city’s open administration. All details on the progress of major core projects will be recorded in a white paper e-book and disclosed via the Information Communication Square. The disclosed information on the city administration will contribute significantly to the growth of our society.

    Innovation in the energy sector will also continue. In 2013, projects will be launched to decommission a nuclear plant, and by adopting comprehensive measures, we expect to achieve tangible results. Seoul will become not only an energy conserving city but also an energy producing city.

    True innovation will be achieved in the everyday lives of our citizens, as Seoul becomes a city of sharing in its truest sense. Dear citizens, we already share various parts of our lives, from roads and transportation to information and knowledge. The more we share, the richer our lives will become.

    The village community project will also be one of our major initiatives this year. This is not a real estate policy. It is a project that will bring neighbors, who have been steadily growing apart, back together. The communities restored through this effort will become the foundation of Seoul’s welfare ecosystem, and will promote our economic recovery. This is how we will create a city where citizens help each other.

    Seoul’s growth drivers will evolve in 2013.

    Honorable citizens of Seoul,

    In order for the Seoul Metropolitan Government to serve as a pillar of support in the lives of its citizens, and for us to be empowered to pursue innovation, we must achieve sustainable growth, and a growth strategy through which Seoul nurtures and strengthens its economy is the way to achieve such sustainability. But, how can we create a future growth engine for a better Seoul? This question was one of many answered by our own citizens.

    In the first half of this year, the “2030 Seoul Plan,” the plan that will determine the city’s spatial structure in 20 years’ time and the direction of its long-term development, will be completed. The 2030 Seoul Plan is the result of direct participation of numerous citizens through the “Seoul Plan Citizen Participatory Group”. This plan, which will create a better future for Seoul, incorporates the lives of all citizens. Seoul was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Baekje and the capital city (doeup) of the Joseon Dynasty for more than a thousand years. It is a city with a proud history and culture, and deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with other such cities around the world.

    Seoul has the charm and appeal to become an attractive tourist destination, and tourism is a major creative industry of the 21st century. This is why we will restore the city’s value as Hanyang, the capital city of Joseon for 600 years, and make it accessible to the citizens. Furthermore, we will create assets what will become treasures 100 years from now. After actively seeking out and preserving both contemporary and modern historical and cultural assets, we will develop them into global tourist resources. Last year, we welcomed more than 10 million tourists to Korea, more than 90 percent of which visited Seoul. Furthermore, the unique energy and potential of the Korean people, known as “Hallyu,” is spreading across the world.

    In 2013, we will implement strategic marketing in Seoul by area and tourism type. With your participation, we will operate a storytelling group that will allow visitors to discover our hidden tourist resources. Seoul will develop many more tourist attractions, and at the same time, we will improve our tourism infrastructure, leading Seoul’s pride in its name to spread around the world.

    And we must not forget the development of the high value added MICE industry. A while ago, I heard Seoul was ranked as the best international business meeting city, but I think it still has far to go. My ambition goes beyond this. Seoul must strive to dominate as the top MICE industry city in the world. To achieve this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will work hard to host international conferences, and by utilizing public-private councils and international networks, we will actively promote the joint hosting of such events. We will also endeavor to cultivate new inroads into the corporate meetings markets in Asia. To facilitate this effort, we will select and announce an area to become the home to the world’s leading MICE industry complex.

    Furthermore, in 2013, Seoul will devote greater effort to developing knowledge-based technology innovation industries. The Magok Industrial Complex, which will create synergy by building research facilities for Seoul-based R&D companies, large conglomerates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and foreign companies, will become one of the city’s main drivers of growth in the 21st century. In addition, we will invest funds in social overhead capital sectors. We will expand creative and innovative city infrastructure, befitting the city’s position as a global metropolis. Based on the “Urban Railway Basic Plan,” to be announced in February, we will establish a comprehensive implementation plan to dramatically improve Seoul’s transportation infrastructure, with a focus on public transportation and pedestrians.

    In 2013, the central and local governments must help each other.

    Beloved citizens of Seoul,

    A bird cannot fly with only one wing, and the same is true of our country. Without the cooperation of the central government, local governments cannot pursue even their most important policies, and without the cooperation of the local governments, the central government’s measures to improve the livelihoods of the people would fail.

    I hope that 2013 will be a year for both the central and local governments to coexist and help each other. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will offer its active cooperation to help the newly formed government conduct national affairs successfully. In particular, the president-elect needs the cooperation of the Seoul Metropolitan Government in order to fulfill her campaign pledges. We have a wealth of experience in implementing policies and projects in the field. If we apply these experiences to the implementation of new policies, we can create a good model of regional and state cooperation.

    True decentralization will be the cornerstone of state development and stronger competitiveness, requiring the development of an independent funding function for local autonomies. Another urgent task is to improve the system that consigns the authority of the central government to local governments, which will become a starting point in the improvement of mutual understanding between the central and local governments and will enhance the complete implementation of policies. This is how the two can truly help each other.

    In 2013, we must build on our strength.

    Honorable citizens,

    The “Korea Discount” is the relative undervaluation of Korean businesses compared to the value of businesses in competing countries. The major cause for this is the conflict between North and South Korea. The “Korea Discount” also translates to the “Seoul Discount”. This is because the city represents the country, and its geopolitical location makes it particularly vulnerable to the effects of the strained inter-Korean relations. In the face of this adversity, I plan to organically combine social and cultural exchange with North Korean aid, and pursue a North-South exchange and cooperation program. We hope to offer what little help we can in opening an era of peace on the Korean Peninsula. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will keep the door open to North-South reconciliation through cultural exchange, such as by hosting a football match between the two Koreas and holding a performance of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in Pyongyang. These efforts will be pursued jointly with the newly elected government.

    In 2013, Seoul will serve as a pillar of strength in the lives of our citizens.

    Beloved citizens of Seoul,
    Honorable family of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,

    Do you remember the on-site Mayor’s Office that we installed in Eunpyeong New Town last year? Our records from those nine days provided us with answers to many of our problems at that time, and those answers were discovered in a new way. Throughout that process, I learned an important lesson. If we focus with all of our strength, we can create remarkable power and creativity, allowing the city government to stimulate change and innovation and provide much-needed assistance for the citizens. This assured me that anything is possible if we put our minds to it.

    We begin this year with as many tasks ahead of us as last year. In the process of completing them, I intend to utilize the city’s strength and determination and the on-site Mayor’s Office. Also, we will create a framework for vitalization through Garden Five, much in the same way we established a new operation model for the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), to be completed in March 2014, and made it into an advance base for Korea’s successful and global creative industries through an independent operating structure. By applying our experience and wisdom to the issues regarding Subway Line 9 and Some Sevit, we will find appropriate solutions while also protecting the interests of our citizens.

    Beloved family of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,

    A while ago, we carried out a reshuffling within our organization and underwent some personnel changes. I wanted to promote many more people, and offer better positions to a greater number of our staff, but I was deeply sorry that I could not do so. But regardless of where we are, we are one, and there is no part of our organization that is more or less valuable than another. From the mayor to the public officers, we are all invaluable members of our organization. Above all, we are one team. We share the hardships and glory, and work hard and enjoy the rewards of life together. In this regard, I have made a few new habits.

    First, I present a handwritten congratulatory card and a pair of wooden geese to all public servants of the Seoul Metropolitan Government on the occasion of their marriage. Second, if any one of our staff dies while I am in Korea, I make it my duty to personally visit their funeral parlor. Third, I try to always remember our hard-working staff and reward their work.

    I will not ignore any single member of the Seoul Metropolitan Government household. At the very least, I shall make it my mission to ensure that no member of our hardworking staff is marginalized, or the value of their work tarnished. I believe that only when our staff members are happy can they make the citizens of Seoul happy. Just as I will not ignore any single Seoul citizen, I will not ignore any single employee of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. We will look after each other while moving forward together. Honorable citizens of Seoul, please give your heartfelt support to our staff, of whom I am deeply proud.

    Beloved Seoul citizens,
    Honorable family of the Seoul Metropolitan Government,

    Once again, I give you my best wishes for a Happy New Year in this Year of the Snake. Together, we will do more than our best, leading the Seoul Metropolitan Government to become a pillar of support for its citizens. Thank you.