Quest To Be Global City
Seoul City to train 10% of its employees to converse in English, increase schools, medical clinics for foreigners
Seoul City is moving rapidly forward with its "Seoul Global City Plan"to turn the capital city into a global metropolitan city to make foreign visitors feel at home when they come to live or just for tourism.
The Seoul Global Policy Committee, as the first step to realize its goal, set up the Global City Center on Jan. 23 and held a meeting April 24 presided over by Mayor Oh Se-hoon to build an upgraded globalization system to follow up on the mayor's plan announced in March 2007.
The city will open a foreigner support center tentatively named the 'global cluster building'in Jongno, Seoul, by 2011 to help foreigners in areas of business, medical care and immigration service.
The committee has already implemented its plan by designating 15 global zones in the metropolitan city to make foreign residents feel at home by improving the living environment in the city to the extent that Seoul would be listed among the top 10 cities in the world by 2010.
The committee will give priority to removing all the factors that prevent foreign residents in the capital from feeling like they are living in their home countries with the governing power allowed to the city.
In the area of education, the city will try to improve the environment to the level that foreign residents require. Two more foreign schools will be opened by 2012, one in Banpo, and the other in Gaepo-dong, Seoul.
Inside the Digital Media City, a foreign school will be established and a Japanese school will be relocated in 2010.
In the area of residences, houses for rental and long-term lease for foreign residents will be built and supplied. The city will legislate new laws in order to realize the plan. The city will build 178 housing units in the Woomyun area in Seoul and 150 units in Yeouido, Seoul.
The city will also stop the practice of paying rent all at once in advance and allow the operating of real estate agencies exclusive for foreigners.
In the area of medical services, the city will see that clinics exclusive to foreign residents will be allowed to operate in the city, including emergency and free medical care if needed. Seoul University Hospital will have 11 medical clinics for foreigners this year, 20 in 2010 and 25 in 2012.
The city will also set up an emergency medical clinic for English, Japanese and Chinese speaking patients. 10 medical clinics with free medical services for foreigners will also be set up in Seoul.
The city also see that medical services at public medical facilities are upgraded and their numbers expanded to 37 around the city. The city will also secure interpreters to help foreign medical clinics.
In the area of transportation, the Seoul municipal authorities will see that the information system for traffic and services are improved. The city will make sure that the names of important avenues and streets will be displayed in both English and Korean. The traffic signs for pedestrians will be replaced by 2010 or repaired. The street signs will be redesigned according to international standards including contents and methods of hanging them. The names of small alleys will also be in both Korean and English. By next year, the city will complete its plans to create 'global Streets'and Chinese-style streets like China Town in Yonnam-dong, Seoul.
The city will also train global manpower and expand the opportunities for foreigners to participate in the city's policy formulations. Under the 10/10 strategy, the city will see that 10 percent of its employees are foreign-language speaking with 10 percent of them able to speak fluently or nearly fluent.
The city plans to give a year of foreign language training to 20 of its employees every year and provide 60 employees with a course on global matters.
The city also plans to issue bills for tax, water charges and delinquency in English, Chinese, Japanese and French from June.
The various committees affiliated with the city will have foreign members. The city will take measures to ensure that restaurants in areas of the city where many foreigners live have foreign language menus.
Japanese and Chinese will be added to TBS DMB English broadcasting.
The city will hold a global policy review meeting once each quarter to check on the progress of its global policies and plans. nw
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon.