Impressions after six months in office
Date: April 26, 2012
Do you know what my nickname is? Recently, I have been given a couple new ones: “Meticulous Won Soon” and “Won-tto.” That last one means “Mayor Park Won Soon has done it again,” and I am certain it is not always used in a positive way. Those who believe I am unreliable may use that nickname when they think, “Mayor Park must have done something wrong, again.”
As of today, it has been exactly six months since I first took office as the mayor of Seoul. I want to promise you that, going forward, I will be a more reliable, more cheerful “Won-tto,” even for those people who are not happy with the current city administration. During my campaign, I promised to be a mayor who would get closer to the weary citizens of Seoul who have fallen into despair, and hold their hands in comfort. I promised to do this in many of my campaign pledges, and I believe that so far I have kept my promise. Over the last six months, I have travelled 11,240 kilometers by car. That is equivalent to driving to Busan and back three times over. Of course, I try to avoid attending too many events, if possible, so that I may focus on my responsibilities to the city, but I think I have travelled too far by car. So, I strive to seek out more citizens on foot, and see how they live and the difficulties they are facing with my own two eyes.
Through the Hope Ondol Project, I explored various places where underprivileged people are living, for two days straight, and I saw about 290,000 people who were in desperate need. This winter, regardless of their poverty and the extreme cold, not one of those people froze to death in Seoul. Now, the number “0 (zero),” as in zero deaths, moves me deeply. For making this possible, I would like to sincerely thank the public servants of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and civic organizations. Another number that I have become keenly aware of is 5,000. This is the number of vaccinations provided free of charge by the government, and I want to see this number rise. One vaccination for influenza or encephalomeningitis costs over KRW 100,000, and I have not yet been able to acquire any government subsidy to provide such vaccinations. The amount of KRW 1.11 million is the new reduced tuition that students pay to attend the University of Seoul. I pray this number will ease the burden of the students’ parents. The number 587,000 is the number of children receiving the benefit of a free, green school lunch, and 1,150 is the number of irregular workers who have been hired as regular workers. Also, 668 is the number of people I have met personally. A total of 22 Listening Policy Workshops have been held, where we listened to citizens speak on various issues and came up with solutions. I was present for each two-hour workshop, and listened to everything each speaker had to say. I listened to 2,769 experts in different fields, as well as 149 people who spoke at Speakers’ Corner in the Citizens Hall. Also, I met about 470,000 citizens on the “Mr. Won Soon’s Seoul Story” program, and with 300,000 people signing up to be my followers on my twitter since I became mayor, as of today, I now have 370,000 followers. I believe this is the number of people who want to say something about me or to me. Every day, an average of 954 opinions is posted on my Twitter page, demanding no small part of my staff’s attention. Finally, the two last meaningful numbers I would like to mention are KRW 280 million, which is the amount of tax rebates provided to Seoul’s citizens, and KRW 925 million, the amount of taxes collected from major delinquent taxpayers through the one-on-one collection system where each public servant was assigned a certain number of delinquent taxpayers to collect the unpaid taxes from them. All of this was made possible because through your dedication and hard work.
All of these numbers I have mentioned describe our accomplishments over the past six months, and this is only the beginning. In these short six months, I have managed to reorganize our human resources, come to a better understanding of the administration of the Seoul Metropolitan Government through various reports, and established a system to pursue various projects.