UPDATE : 2018.1.22 MON 11:57
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Dangjin eyes an industrial hub, salubrious city in the countryInterview with Mayor Kim Hoing-Joing of Dangjin City

Newly elected and inaugurated Mayor Kim Hoing- Joing of Dangjin City admitted that there is a lot of room for improvement in Dangjin City, including poor city environment and lagging competitiveness compared with other cities, and vowed his best efforts to work hard and turn the city into one that is very nice and comfortable to live by improving the living standard of his citizens through vitalization of the local economy.

Speaking at a recent interview with The Korea Post, Mayor Kim said that he will do his level best also to upgrade the status of the Dangjin City. Excerpts from the interview follow:

▲Mayor Kim Hoing-Joing of Dangjin City

Question: Could you tell us about Dangjin City’s current living environment and competitiveness?Answer: The living environment in Dangjin as a leading city in South Chungcheong Province is seen as poor in many aspects. On top of that, its competitiveness lags behind that of other cities that have achieved success on their own in both the public and private sectors. The city’s economic hardships have stemmed from a lack of systematic or methodical preparations of a wide range of infrastructure including, housing, transportation and parking facilities, as well as others required for a better quality of life for the citizens and sustainable development for the city’s indigenous industries. Dangjin also falls short of elementary urban infrastructure such as schools and medical and cultural facilities. As a result, employees working for companies and other organizations based in Dangjin appear to be reluctant to relocate their families to the city. Accordingly, the city economy is now getting affected more by decadent entertainment businesses which have prompted a high crime rate and other serious social problems.

The ultimate goals Dangjin City Government officials now have in mind are growing Dangjin into a city with dignity and grace as well as competitiveness, where people want to live.

In this context, Dangjin City is devoted to revitalizing the regional economy to provide the indigenous citizens and other residents with a bountiful life. The efforts will include developing inborn traits of the city, reinforcing its municipal functions and improving the residential environment as a whole.

Q: Does the city have any strategy to make itself look different from others?
A:
As a matter of fact, Dangjin City is equipped with many good business conditions and opportunities as an important traffic center on the Seohaean Expressway (West Coast Expressway). The city, adjoining the Yellow Sea located between Korea and China, also has enormous potential as one of Asia’s logistics and distribution hubs, owing to a new expressway linking the central city of Daejeon and Dangjin and a new west coast railway as well as another expressway and railway connecting Dangjin with Cheonan City within Chungcheong province. In addition, the Port of Dangjin, known to be a major logistics harbor in trade with China, highlights the city’s stride towards future prosperity. Other potential resources of Dangjin are its vast farmland, three huge lakes and a variety of cultural relics. Given these exceptional attributes of Dangjin, the city is a land of opportunities.

Dangjin plans to develop itself into the country’s most standard urban-rural convergence city by transforming its northern coastal area into a cluster of industrial complexes, the southern area into a pivot of its agricultural industry, as well as a tourist destination with a variety of theme parks and family-friendly attractions, and the port into a logistics center. This plan is to be congruous to the city’s potentialities.

▲The Dangjin City Government building

Q: Could you tell us about any specific plans to further develop the steel and maritime industries the city has fostered?
A:
One of the most developed industries in Dangjin is the iron and steel business which comprises Hyundai Steel Co., Dongbu Steel Co., Dongkuk Steel Co. and Hwangyoung Steel Ind. But this has resulted in the steel industry concentration phenomenon in the city’s industrial structure, leaving the city to heavily rely on the steel sector and thus sapping its competitiveness.

To settle this structural problem, the city government will exert efforts to diversify Dangjin’s business lines. Although the maritime industry has great potential as one of the city’s future growth engines to further boost the regional economy, a thorough business diagnosis will be carried out in order to review whether the industry is suitable as a growth engine for the city.

Also, the city will do its utmost to increase the proportion of local firms’ participation in its harbor-related business to 30 percent from the current three percent -- valued at 1.5 trillion won, in cooperation with the Chungcheong provincial government. This move, encouraged by the ongoing plans to upgrade relevant facilities and services, will help the harbor business play a major and foundational role in boosting the municipal economy.

In addition, the city government will show a lot of momentum to push ahead with the establishment of a port logistics complex and attract state corporations and agencies related to the maritime industry to relocate into the city.

Q: What is the city’s drive for the promotion of cultural heritages and local festivals?
A:
Dangjin City stages cultural events and local festivals more in quality and quantity than other regions. Well-known for its cultural values, Dangjin possesses a great many cultural heritages, particularly linked with devotional values from such religions as Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, Confucianism and the indigenous Cheondoism as well. Therefore, the city will seek ways to develop itself into a culture-oriented burg and improve regulations and systems to effectively manage its valuable heritages and assets. Although there is a wide range of local festivals organized and hosted by Dangjin, most of them are aimed at promoting local specialties. As they have been held sporadically, many of them are seen as ineffective.

▲The Pope visits the birthplace of Martyr Kim Dae-geon in Dangjin City.

Therefore, with a focus on the cultural values, the city will continue to support festivals which have been created and promoted by residents, but those that heavily depend on municipal finances will automatically be weeded out.

Q: Are there any measures to induce foreign investment and to revitalize the city’s tourism industry and local economy?
A:
It is true that the local economy in Dangjin City has shrunk due largely to a sluggish global economy and deregulatory policies for the metropolitan area. Dangjin City will join hands with other provincial governments to restore the metropolitan regulations. It will also make every effort in inducing foreign investment not only in the currently-planned industrial complexes but also in the agricultural sector.

Our tourism business will shift from emphasizing ordinary sightseeing to providing experience tours. The city also will design many programs connecting cultural heritages with tourism. Accordingly, the city government’s tourism policies should be drawn up to be in line with developing tourist attractions to support the change.

Of course, the revitalization of the local economy is the city government’s urgent and dire goal. Dangjin City is determined to seek new economic growth engines by widening support for small and medium-sized enterprises, diversifying business lines and vitalizing traditional markets in the town, and bolstering the tertiary industry which will help modernize the Port of Dangjin and set up a planned export complex for farm produce.

Q: What will be Dangjin City’s key future policies?
A:
As you are well aware, Dangjin is a city of dynamic and infinite potential higher than any other towns. However, the city’s current industrialization programs are too much leaning on the secondary industries which have meagerly contributed to increasing the Dangjin citizens’ income as they were designed and developed by outsiders for the sake of themselves. In this regard, the city’s economic policy will focus largely on the tertiary industry such as distribution and other service sectors as well as the agricultural business.

On top of all this work, the city government will be employing open administrative policies under which the citizens can seek ways of their own to foster better living environment. That is, the policies will not only enable the Dangjin citizens to trust the city officials, but also make the officials always think of the citizens’ happiness.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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