"In order to be converted into a ‘city of revival,’ Nonsan City should be established as a mecca for the military industry," Nonsan City Mayor Baek Seong-hyun said.
In an interview with the Korea Post media, which has published three English and two Korean-language news publications since 1985, he said, "We will make Nonsan a creative city suitable for the convergence era with bolder and more challenging aspirations in 2023."
The followings are excerpts from an interview with Nonsan City Mayor Baek Seong-hyun.
Question: You have started a policy transition with the '4+1 administration'. Please tell me the specific action plan.
Answer: Holding a New Year's press conference on Jan. 11, I said, "We will make Nonsan a creative city suitable for the convergence era with bolder and more challenging aspirations in 2023."
In order to make Nonsan a creative city where citizens are happy, we are focusing all our administrative power on resolving the demographic extinction and creating a bigger and stronger Nonsan.
The 4+1 administration is a theory that military (related population) should move around organically with administrative + corporate + education + citizens, rather than approaching each of the five tracks of administration, corporate, education, and military, which is not found in administrative theory. It is the Baek Seong-hyun-style administration.
We will create greater and stronger synergy through the '4+1 administration'.
First is administration. We will bring about changes that citizens can feel through active administration, responsible administration, and creative administration, not benchmarking.
Second, we will seek a win-win path with companies. We will create high-quality jobs by attracting high-tech companies, and in particular, we will actively attract the military industry to become a defense-friendly economic city and complete the Mecca of the military industry.
Third, we will make it a happy educational city that grows dreams. We will foster global talent with personality and creativity.
Fourth, we will focus on the policies that citizens can feel with the thoughts and hearts of the great Nonsan citizens.
Fifth, soldiers are honorary citizens of Nonsan and are important resources of Nonsan. The Army Training Center, Army Aviation School, and National Defense University will organize traditional market shopping day events and create a military-friendly city with active administrative support from Nonsan City.
Through the '4+1 administration', we will change 'the city of extinction' to 'the city of revival'. Please we ask citizens to join forces to overcome the crisis of demographic extinction and achieve balanced national development.
Q: I’ve heard that you will walk to work from the first day of your inauguration on July 1.
A: The reason why I walk to work is because I have to draw a new Nonsan by meeting and communicating with citizens together on the road. "We should make Nonsan a happy place for citizens to live. That's the thought I made on July 1 last year, taking a heavy first step,
I only think about Nonsan City and citizens until I go to bed after I wake up. The young population of Nonsan continues to decrease, the aging population is getting serious, and the regional vitality is weakening.
I have a lot of worries. We must now change that trend and seek innovation. Under the slogan of "New Nonsan, Make Citizens Happy," we will strongly push for ▲ a defense-friendly economic city that leaps vigorously ▲ an eco-friendly agricultural city that prepares for the future ▲ a historical culture and tourism city with memories ▲ a warm welfare city without exception.
If it can serve as the foundation for the future 100 years of Nonsan City, I have been working hard every day after taking office. I will not forget to carry it out until the last day of serving as the mayor of Nonsan.
Q: Nonsan City is growing into a mecca for the military industry based on its abundant defense infrastructure. You've made a big achievement recently. Please introduce your achievements.
A: In order to achieve the job of transforming the "city of demographic destruction" into a "city of revival," there is a clear goal of establishing Nonsan as a mecca for the military industry. I will make Nonsan the Hunstville of Korea. Based on the abundant defense resources and the position of all sides, we will strive to transform Nonsan into a global mecca for the military industry and gather all administrative power to create food for Nonsan.
Korea Defense Industry, a leading military industry company, recently concluded 120 billion won in investment and 130,000 pyeong of development. Through a business agreement with the Army Training Center, tourists can visit various training facilities to remember, and parents who sent their children, friends, and lovers can visit the military facilities.
We are striving to partially revise the Enforcement Decree of the Military Service Act so that the number of days of "training center barracks experience" such as 1 night and 2 days can be included in the service period.
Through this, we will provide an opportunity to improve the military's existing image and improve its credibility. In addition, we signed a business agreement with the Army Aviation School. This will help attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists and revitalize the local economy, as well as improve the brand value of the city.
Q: I’ve heard that Nonsan City has joined hands with the World Federation of Overseas Korean Traders Association (OKTA) to set up a driving force for overseas sales. Would you make a comment on this?
A: We invited the World-OKTA, which attended the World Korean Businessmen Conference held in Yeosu from Oct. 31 to 11 last year, to Nonsan on Oct. 31.
It aims to create business opportunities, secure infrastructure to strengthen export competitiveness, explore overseas markets such as local agricultural products through private trade cooperation activities, promote Nonsan City through networks, and enhance regional competitiveness.
The export consultation held on Oct. 31 was attended by 30 outstanding small and medium-sized companies, including food, bio, construction, and liquor, and 50 World-OKTA members from 19 countries, which led to a $ 9.75 million (13.8 billion won) memorandum of understanding and a $420,000 (600 million won) on-site contract.
This successful case of Nonsan City was possible because all civil servants, from high-ranking officials to working-level officials in Nonsan City, worked with the perception that they were organizations that helped companies.
We are deeply grateful to the members of World OKTA, who are working hard for Korea's economic development. Nonsan City will continue to support the agreement as much as possible and open new markets for companies and farmers in the region.
Q: Please explain the creation of Topjeongho Lake Tourist Leisure Town, one of the hottest places in Nonsan.
A: Tapjeongho Lake, the second largest lake in Chungcheongnam-do, has been developed as tourist resources by developing a suspension bridge and music fountains, and the number of tourists has increased. But there are still many problems due to the lack of convenience facilities. However, the surrounding area is owned by the Rural Community Corporation or designated as a forest and fish protection area, so there is a limit to arbitrary development.
So we plan to create a complex tourism and leisure town around Tapjeongho Lake, including tourist pensions, condominiums, theme shopping malls, cafe streets, and arboretum. The top priority will be to ease more regulations than necessary through consultation with related ministries.
We would like to expand and develop forest resources around Tapjeongho Lake to install additional monorails and zip lines, and make it a tourist city that people want to visit all over the country.
In addition, in order to revitalize the local economy, admission fees have been paid and some of the admission fees have been refunded in local currency to be used in the jurisdiction, but from Jan. 1, 2023, admission fees have been made free so that all people in the entire nation can visit without any burden.
There is definitely a limit to promoting pending regional projects only with city finances. We would like to create a tourism and leisure town infrastructure by actively attracting large-scale private capital.
In addition, we will develop a tourist route to stay using the tourism resources of Geumgang and Ganggyeong, and continue to develop hands-on tourism resources and various travel products that anyone can join.
To realize this in detail, I met with Lee Byung-ho, president of the Korea Rural Community Corporation, on Nov. 23 and asked Lee to speed up the Tapjeongho Waterfront Development Project.
At the meeting, I said that the Tapjeongho Tourism Development Project is a key area that will enhance the value of our city and lead the future, so we need to cooperate with each other and actively reveal the future of the tourism industry without being bound by past practices or regulations.
In addition, we will promote Nonsan's valuable historical and cultural assets and make it a city full of memories and romance that leads the K-Korean Wave culture by developing unique tourism contents.
Q: I’ve heard that the Strawberry Festival will be held on March 8 under the theme of "Sweet Temptation for the World Strawberry Expo." It is also said that it will make its first appearance of the Helicopter Theme Festival Program. In addition, it is known that you are preparing to hold a strawberry expo. Please make introductory remarks.
A: The brand value and reputation of Nonsan's representative festival, the Nongsan Strawberry Festival, have been proven once again. The Nonsan Strawberry Festival was proudly named in the "100 K-Culture Tourism Events" announced by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization on Oct. 31.
Nonsan, the home of strawberries, produces more than 15% of the total output in the country, and I am very happy that the Nonsan Strawberry Festival was selected as one of the "100 K-Culture Tourism Events" at a time when rural vitality was needed. The five-day strawberry festival from March 8 this year is special.
Based on the win-win agreement with the Army Aviation School, the 'Helicopter Theme Festival Program' will be introduced for the first time in the country.
Interesting new contents such as △ clean strawberry harvest experience △ strawberry dessert cafe △ travel to Topjeongho Lake by helicopter are waiting for tourists across the country, focusing on luxury strawberries that boast the best taste in the country.
In addition, we would like to hold a World Expo. As the excellence of Korean strawberries is known every year from abroad, Korean strawberries are exported to various countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, and Singapore, but the Strawberry Expo has never been held in Korea.
In order to hold a world-class strawberry expo, we aim to hold a strawberry expo in 2027 in accordance with the policy of holding more than three national festivals such as domestic expos. Through the Strawberry Expo, we would like to promote excellent agricultural products nationwide and make a name for ourselves worldwide with the best products.
Q: Lastly, do you have anything to say to citizens?
A: Dear Nonsan City citizens! There is a saying that crisis is an opportunity. I am confident that the crisis facing Nonsan can be an opportunity to create a "bigger and stronger Nonsan" depending on our efforts.
With the experience of central politics, administrative capabilities, and a firm future vision to change Nonsan City, we will raise citizens' self-esteem through warm administration in the city worth living.