By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Feature Editor Bae Hee-Kwon and Reporter Kim Young-myung
Chairperson Choi Yoonnam of the Nowon District Council in Seoul said, “Many people make great efforts to increase their happiness index and it is the fixed aim of our district to make it one where the people would say: ‘I do not want to leave the Nowon-gu District where I wish to stay for good’.”
This statement by Chairperson Choi was made at a recent interview with The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language media publications since 1985. Details of the interview follow:
Question: Seoul has 25 autonomous districts. What are the unique features of Nowon-gu that you can boast about in Nowon-gu?
Answer: The Nowon-gu District was created as a planned city, but in fact, it has the lowest financial independence in all the 25 autonomous districts. Nowon-gu is noted for beautiful mountains and fields which come in beautiful harmony with the surroundings. Our District has been developed as a planned city, and currently, about 82% of the housing in our district consists of apartments.
However, there are not many jobs in our district and so the residents here go to work in districts and this is the bed-town. Because of its low rate of financial independence, Nowon-gu is reviving with a lot of support from the city and central government.
Nowon-gu has many mountains such as Dobong-san, Buram-san, Seoraksan, Yeongchuksan and Choansan, and the air is very clean and clear. Due to this nature of the region, it was difficult to develop other industries. This time, the slogan of the 7th mayor of the district, Mr. Oh Seung-rok, encourages: “Let's raise the happiness index of the people and to this end we should try to make a community that is excellent to live in. Proper focus on the education of children is important and so is the creation of a special educational zone.” Nowon-gu has a large variety and number of educational systems and policies.
Q: Please introduce the education welfare at Nowon-gu:
A: Unlike other autonomous districts in Nowon-gu, the Education Welfare Foundation and Environmental Foundation were established in the early times. In general, many cultural foundations are built, but Nowon-gu has many old natural villages, and original residents have a poor living environment. There are many places such as Baeksa Village and Hope Village that were not developed and remained as they were 30 or 50 years ago. Little by little, while preserving nature, we are promoting development, but there are still many things to do.
Mayor Oh took a special interest in the preservation and creation of parks—instead of constructing buildings.
Q: What measures have been taken to control COVID-19:
A: The Nowon-gu District is also well known for advanced measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 epidemic.
We are trying to stay away from Corona 19 through policies that have been consistently promoted in advance even before the current Corona 19 crisis erupted--such as saving the park and making it easier to walk around the park.
We also took special measures for the children. Parents of many children in our district do double-harnessing, where husband and wife have to work.
We have set up a plan to build a total of 40 ‘rest centers’ for such children and at of them have already been completed.
In our district, the teachers volunteer to look after the children after school until their parents come home. Volunteers come to serve and they read books for the children.
Q: What are your plans to increase the happiness index of your people?
A: Many people make great efforts to increase their happiness index and it is the fixed aim of the District where the people would say: “I do not want to leave the Nowon-gu District where I wish to stay for good.”
Nowon-gu has built the first zero-energy house in Korea. It has been said a long time ago that we need to switch to renewable energy, but Korea has four distinctly different seasons, and in summer, it rains a lot, making it difficult to secure sunlight, and there were many negative opinions about the different reasons.
Q: Do you have any suggestions or recommendations you wish to make to the Central Government?
A: I have been active for 6 years after my election as the first-time council member. It there is anything where I might find room for improvement I would say that the current National Assembly is not in a two-party system, but a multi-party system. The members, in my opinion, are overly partisan- oriented. Since there are little means of control, disagreement and conflict occur and as time goes on the situation, in my opinion may not readily improve. We must try to think of the people first. I think about Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg address that it must be “of the people, for the people and by the people.”
Our lawmakers are elected to work for and on behalf of the people. You must try to think and do things from stand point of the people. Starting with this basic mind, concessions, harmony, and agreement are also possible. The people are criticizing politics. Not voting means giving up your rights.
Q: Please introduce yourself in detail:
A: Actually, I wasn't interested in politics, but I think my literacy and temperament have been prepared through training since I was a child. When I entered middle school, my IQ was 134 at that time. It was the second highest in the whole school. I inherited from my parents and got my grades by just properly managing my notes without much effort, and I continued to be the leader at my class at school. My teachers gave me nice remarks.
Since elementary school, I have been doing big and small things for the class and for the school. I am from a devout Christian family. Also, my husband, like me, was elected as a leader wherever he went and served as the head of a church school for 30 years. (For further details, see attached resume at the end of this report.)
Q: What was your dream when you were young?
A: I was born in a very conservative-oriented and I did not do things against the will of my father'.
When I was in the 6th grade of elementary school, there were 3 class leaders, and I was the second one.
My father was a very strict person and would not condone with children’s spending. At such times when President Kim Dae-Jung deceased and President Roh Moo-hyun died, I didn't have any money to buy condolence flowers and so I bought flowers from the flower shop and made them myself and put them at the altar.
Overview of the Nowon-gu District in Seoul:
In the old times in the northeastern outskirts of the Seoul City proper, the Nowon area was a vast field of reeds. The original name of the District of Nowon (蘆 原) translates “Reed Field” where No in Chinese character means ‘Reed’ and Won ‘Field,’ which characterized beauty and clean air.
According to historical records, the name Nowon has been used since the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).
During the Korean dynasties of Goryeo and Joseon, stations were positioned in important places along traffic routes to accommodate travelers. Nowon was an important traffic route that connected the north and south regions of the Korean peninsula. Especially during the Joseon Dynasty of Yi monarchs, it was close to Hanyang (today’s Seoul), which was the capital, and was in important place that led to the Gangwon-do Province and the Hamgyeong-do Provinces (now in North Korea). For this reason, the station was built and the area was known as ‘Nowon Station’.
Nowon is often also called Madeul. Ever since the station was positioned in the vast field of reeds and was officially referred to as Nowon, the Korean people who were not familiar with the name Nowon, which was a geographical name written with Chinese characters, came up with a different name. They put together the word Ma which derived from the scene of horse running around the field and Deul which derives from the word Deul (field).
The name Nowon was in use is from early the Goryeo Dynasty to almost the end of the Joseon (AKA Yi Dynasty). The name disappeared on April 1, 1914 when it was unified with the Haedeungchon-myeon (township) and became Nohae-myeon due to the change of administrative district during the Japanese Rule of Korea. The name, Nohe-myeon, also disappeared when it was transferred to the Seongbuk-gu District of of Seoul in 1963 and to the Dobong-gu District in 1973 during the process of full-scale urbanization.
Nowon district, after having gone through various transitions, was divided from Dobong-gu on Jan. 1, 1988 as a result of readjustment of the administrative districts and became reborn as the present-day Nowon-gu.
After it became an autonomous district, the name Nowon, which best describes the characteristics of the area, was selected as the permanent name. Nowon is a familiar name to us all and has been growing successfully since then and it is now the second biggest autonomous district in Seoul with a total of 640,000 inhabitants.
Historically, Nowon was the property of the Baekje Dynasty of Korea during the early period of the Three Kingdom Period of Korea. The Kingdom was invaded by Goguryeo (in the northern part of Korea) during the rule of King Jangsu (475) and was annexed to the Maeseong-gun Disrrict but its ownership was returned to the Baekje Dynasty again due to the efforts of the allied forces of Baekje and Shilla kingdoms.
Later in 533, Nowon was under the rule of the Shilla Dynasty and during the reign of King Gyeongdeok of Unified Shilla (757) and it belonged to the Raeso-gun County. The name Raeso-gun changed to Gyeon-ju during the Goryeo Dynasty and was transferred to the Yangju County during the reign of king Hyeonjong 9th year (in 1018) and the status remained intact until the end of the Joseon dynasty.
According to Yeojidoseo, which is a compilation of each state of government during the Joseon Dynasty during the reign of King Yeongjo, there were 34 Myeon (subdivision of a county) in the Yangjumok area of the Gyeonggi Province. Among them were Nowon-myeon (township) and Haedeongchon-myeon and the present Nowon-gu area was included in the region. These two localities became the property of Nohae-myeon, Yangju-gun, Gyeong-gi-do in 1914.
In 1963, the Nowon area belonged to Seongbuk-gu as Nohae-myun, and was incorporated into Seongbuk-gu, Seoul. And it belonged to Dobong-gu as it was extended in Seongbuk-gu in 1973. Nowon-gu was extended in Dobong-gu on Jan. 1, 1988 and went through the transition of the administrative district and became the Nowon-gu of today.
|Type of business||Number of businesses||Number of employees|
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||1||1|
|Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply business||6||311|
|Water, sewage and waste treatment, raw material recycling||11||214|
|Wholesale and retail||5,030||15,757|
|Transportation and warehousing||6,598||12,573|
|Accommodation and restaurant business||4,191||14,443|
|Information and communication industry||156||1,242|
|Finance and insurance||236||4,253|
|Professional, scientific and technical||438||3,259|
|Facility management, business support and rental||317||4,602|
|Public administration, defense and social security administration||38||3,141|
|Education service industry||1,950||21,138|
|Health industry and social welfare service||1,454||18,684|
|Arts, sports and leisure related service industries||934||3,078|
|Associations and organizations, repair and other service businesses||2,616||5,501|
Resume of Chairperson Choi Yoonnam of the Nowon-gu District Council:
Name: Choi Yoonnam
Born in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do
Master of Public Administration, Graduate School of Policy, Korea University
Floor leader of the Democratic Party of Korea at the 8th-term National Assembly
Chairperson of the Steering Committee of Nowon-gu Council in the second half of the 7th term
Secretary-general of the Council of the Chairmen of the Steering Committees of the Districts of the Seoul City
(Former) Vice-Chairperson of the Democratic Party Committee on Women of the Democratic Party of Korea
New Politics Alliance for Democracy
Chairperson of Council of Gongneung 1-Dong of the Nowon A District of the Democratic Party.
Director of the Situation Office of the Nowon A District for Presidential Candidate Moon Jae-in Moon
A member of the National Unification Advisory Council directly under the control of the President.