The history of the Seoul Metropolitan Council goes back to 1956. Marking the 10th council this year, the chairman Kim In-ho puts the safety and happiness of citizens at the center of all. 109 members of the council recently gathered together and urged law makers to speedily process the whole scale revision of the Local Government Act for better local governing especially in times of natural disaster such as the COVID-19. For the moment, they are busy completing administrative affairs auditing and the budget for 2021 which should be done by December 22. Various other ongoing agendas are also on the table to settle. Monthly PowerKorea met the chairman Kim In-ho.
Q. What have you achieved so far since you took the steering wheel?
A. I pledged to work hard in the field which I’m still pushing myself forward. To name a few, I visited the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters and the Namsan Life Treatment Center to check on measures against the pandemic and I toured the Jangwi Traditional Market and the Cheongryangri Fruit & Vegetable Market to listen to difficulties of market merchants. I also have proposed for revision of the Seoul Disease Prevention & Management Ordinance to help virus-infected and recovered to go back to their normal life without a hassle.
Q. What are the urgent issues to settle down?
A. The ongoing administrative affairs auditing is very important as it brings more efficient ways of spending budgets next year. The council has revised 4 times of supplementary budget already with the first and second for giving out cash, the third for post-pandemic and the fourth for support for the vulnerable. The city has spent 50 trillion won budget (44 billion USD) in the year 2020 so the auditing must be thoroughly carried out. The council proposed around 40 trillion budget for next year with large share on quarantine, economy and post-pandemic preparation.
Q. What do you think must be settled down before your term ends?
A. More and detailed ordinances for jobs and social security should be revised or introduced for the vulnerable of the society which have been hit harder by the pandemic. The vulnerable not only means the hard up but also the small business owners as well as delivery men, drivers and street cleaners and such who are easily affected by slight changes of domestic and global markets. It is notable that 10 delivery men have died due to excessive work load and poor working environment this year alone. Council member Lee Dong-hyun has already proposed for the Seoul Key Workers Support Ordinance which is expected to be passed within this year. Prior to this, the council brought up the Ordinance for Children In Need Support.
Q. What do you think is the role of the Seoul Metropolitan Council as a local government?
A. Seoul Metropolitan Council is leading the whole scale revision of the Local Government Act to be passed within the 21st National Assembly. Local government is the root of nation’s administration and democracy. In this respect, Seoul Metropolitan Council set sail the 10th self-governing task force last August with goals to push forward passing the revision within this year, strengthening cooperation between local governments and promoting citizens participation. As part of this effort, we have met Lee Nak-yon and been organizing various seminars and meetings nationwide.
Q. What are the core projects of the council?
A. The main role of the council is to monitor, check and support. As the mayor’s seat is empty until April next year, the council will do what is necessary for support especially the youth related projects which the deceased Park Won-soon was passionate about. In line of this, the council has passed part revision of the Youth Ordinance and of the Youth Participatory Activation Ordinance last September. The council is always open to listen to citizens’ voice for better ordinances and administration.
Q. What do you think is the role of the council in times of the pandemic?
A. A resolution for expanded budget and autonomy of local governments has passed last February and is being processed in implementing agencies at the moment. The council also launched the Special Committee for Post Pandemic Stability last August and it will play the key role to create new driving force and to support small business owners. Various other meetings and gatherings for health and welfare also have been ongoing.
Q. Any particular districts that need attention?
A. Dongdaemun District lately has seen an increase in number of young residents and the demand for improved nursery and education system is high. The district is expecting to see a library opening in 2025. It will be the representative library of the city and will be built to the level of global standard which will function as a cultural complex. At the same time, the Cheongnyangri station and around will be reborn as a metropolitan transport hub in the capital region as 6 subway lines drop by the station and 2 GTX lines are expected to be added. The government is planning to build a transfer center on the station that will embrace startup support centers and offices to create synergy for jobs and economy.
Q. Lastly, what would you like to emphasize?
A. Thanks to citizen’s cooperation, the city, and also the nation, is containing the virus to a controllable level. So I must thank citizens and the people for cooperation first. I believe we will fight off the virus as well as we keep advanced level of citizenship. The 110 members of the council will work for nothing but the citizen’s safety and welfare through open communication and policy implementation.
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