Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City remains dedicated to building a city in which all citizens feel happy. Sejong Mayor Lee Chun-hui says that Sejong is being transformed into a dual urban & farming city. Overall, he stresses that more government agencies should be relocated to the city from Seoul. A summary of an interview that The Korea Post conducted with Mayor Lee is as follows:
I have worked for the creation of Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City since I served as chief of the New Administrative Capital Construction Support Agency, director of the Multifunctional Autonomous City Construction Agency and vice minister of land, infrastructure and transport. I am very proud of my role in the creation of Sejong City. My being elected to the mayorship (on June 30, 2014) would mean that I should remain dedicated to building a “well-balanced, high-quality global city." I will be fully dedicated to transforming Sejong into a “happy city” and a new center of the Republic of Korea. I will try to live up to expectations of all Sejong citizens.
Q: It is understood that more government agencies will be relocated to Sejong City by the end of this year. Could you say that the urban living infrastructure will be put in place by that time?
A: As planned, government agencies including the Ministry of Governmental Legislation and National Tax Service are expected to be moved to Sejong City by the end of this year. However, this does not mean that all government agencies would be relocated in line with the original government agency relocation plan. The Ministry of Security and Public Administration, which faces a structural reorganization, should be moved to Sejong City as soon as possible, along with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Besides delays in the relocation of government agencies, private investments in the urban living infrastructure like shopping outlets and hospitals have been not sufficient. As a result, many Sejong citizens face difficulties in their basic activities of daily living. I would like to stress, however, that we will commit all available resources to upgrading the living environment in the arenas of transport, culture and daily living.
Of note, we will join hands with the Multifunctional Autonomous City Construction Agency to realize early opening of college campuses, hospitals and large distribution facilities in the city. We are also working to expand the transport infrastructure and, for this purpose, strenuous efforts are being exerted to expand the routes of city and express buses.
In addition, the Sejong City administration is striving to expand cultural facilities for festivals and concerts, as well as sports installments like indoor summing pools. We expect that the living environment of Sejong City will be 'stabilized" within the next two or three years, by virtue of speedy expansion of its "human settlement infrastructure."
It is considered important to develop an outstanding educational environment for civil servants. I share the view with the city's top educator that we should work to cultivate an educational environment commensurate with the status of Sejong Metropolitan Autonomous City. Plans are being worked out for the supply of environment-friendly meals, establishment of high schools with innovative educational programs and creation of additional elementary and secondary schools. We are also committed to developing better contents for smart education. As you
might know, the city operates Korea's first smart school which incorporates various types of information and communications technology into the learning process.
For the first time since I became the mayor of Sejong City, on September 3, the city administration signed MOUs with eight up and coming SMEs, which call for investment of 34.6 billion. These firms, including Taekang Industrial, will set up plants in Yeondong Industrial Complex which is under construction in Yeondong-myeon, Sejong City. When the investments are completed, it will be able to generate 99.4 billion won of economic value and 25.4 billion won of value added.
As Sejong City has been designated as a science belt by the central government, related projects will be launched starting this year. By the end of this year, 18 state-run research institutions will be relocated to the city. As a matter of fact, promotion of cutting-edge science and R&D activities is one of the city's six main foundation objectives.
As Sejong City is just 20 minutes away from large cities like Daejon, Cheongju and Cheonan, it has advantages in attracting talented persons and distributions facilities. As a result, the city offers a far more outstanding investment climate than other areas. There are expectations that investments in the city will continue to grow in the years ahead.
Q: While Sejong City is an administrative capital, it offers significant farming areas. An honorary assistant mayor in charge of agriculture will be appointed soon. Do you have any plans to speed up the development of agricultural sector in the city?
A: The soon-to-be named honorary assistant mayor will be responsible for suburban agriculture, tourist farming and food-related farming. In my view, Sejong City should become a city in which urban functions and farming maintain “win-win relationships.” The city has been implementing a total of "337 agricultural projects" which aim to expand the incomes of farming households, promote eco-friendly farming and step up the local food campaign. Our efforts will help revitalize the stagnant agricultural sector.
Sejong is now being transformed into a dual urban &farming city from a typical rural city. By 2020, up to 20% of agricultural and livestock products that are consumed in Sejong City will be produced within the Metropolitan Autonomous city.