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Administrative town seeks more global exchanges

Sejong was established as an administrative town with the goal of achieving balanced regional development and addressing overcrowding in the metropolitan area surrounding Seoul.

Now housing many government ministries and public agencies, as well as planned construction of a regional branch of the National Assembly, Sejong is aiming for a bigger vision of establishing itself as a smart city, according to Sejong Mayor Choi Min-ho.

"We'll incorporate cutting-edge technology across various sectors to deliver diverse services aimed at enhancing citizen well-being," Choi said during an interview with The Korea Times at his office, April 23.

"Our plan includes providing integrated services centered on citizens’ happiness through data-driven solutions," Choi said.

In the health care field, the city developed a platform to monitor individual health data and offer predictive and preventive services for diseases.

Advanced technology also plays a crucial role in residents' safety as well. The city has implemented an AI-based video analysis platform utilizing data collected by intelligent security cameras, IoT, or Internet of Things, sensors and drones to respond promptly to emergencies.

"We've also created a way for citizens to voice their opinions firsthand with the Sejong App, an online governance platform," Choi said.

"This platform empowers citizens to actively suggest smart city policies and ways of using technologies and to request needed services."

In addition, the city is preparing for the commercialization of mobility services that utilize advanced technologies. These services encompass autonomous driving transportation, vehicle sharing and smart parking. Citizens will be able to use integrated services related to mobility through a single app.

Revitalizing exchanges with cities worldwide

Not only focusing on promoting the convenience of residents, the city is also concentrating on building global partnerships and sharing urban policies and technologies.

"Aligned with the British government's cooperation proposal under the Korea-British Twins Project, we are collaborating with Northern Ireland's Belfast to advance a joint cooperative initiative," Choi said.

The collaborative efforts between the two cities focus on areas such as exchanging smart city policies, finding ways to foster economic growth and jointly addressing urban challenges.

"Moreover, we aim to showcase the city's advanced smart city technologies to numerous countries through collaborations with international cities, including those in Bulgaria, which is propelling to establish a sisterhood relationship with Sejong," he said.

A growing number of cities overseas are showing interest in the city's various developments, with 546 officials from 45 countries, such as Indonesia, Mongolia and Egypt, visiting Sejong last year to study the city's advancements.

Sejong has actively sought to broaden its international engagements beyond Asian partners like China in a bid to enhance global collaboration and share city policies.

"Our strategy involves elevating Sejong's global standing as Korea's administrative capital through city-to-city exchanges worldwide and implementing international promotion strategies with top-notch resources," he explained.

Strengthening city’s identity with Hangeul

Additionally, Sejong is emphasizing its cultural identity, particularly through Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, as the city is named after King Sejong the Great, who is responsible for the introduction of the Hangeul in the 15th century.

"Hangeul is more than just a Korean alphabet. We have to transform it into cultural content that can captivate people around the world," Choi emphasized.

The city is actively cultivating an environment steeped in Hangeul and the Korean language, such as naming villages, roads, bridges and schools with names in pure Korean rather than Chinese characters as is usual around the rest of the country.

Moreover, it fosters a community where residents and visitors can experience Hangeul and related culture by planning initiatives that can offer education and cultural experience programs in Hangeul-themed settings.

Sejong aims to become a hub for Hangeul-related events and institutions, solidifying that the city's identity is related to Hangeul.

In addition to hosting events for Hangeul Day, a national holiday in Korea that falls on Oct. 9, Sejong is working to bring Hangeul- and Korean language-related facilities to the city, such as the National Institute of the Korean Language and the King Sejong Institute, and establish more educational infrastructure to teach and study the language and its unique writing system.

These efforts are aimed at creating a city that serves as a central hub for these important cultural and educational institutions.

"I envision transforming Sejong into a city that becomes a focal point for numerous Korean-related events," Choi said.

Who is Choi Min-ho?

Choi is the mayor of Sejong., serving as the fourth mayor of Sejong since 2022.

Born in Daejeon, Choi studied law at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. He began his career in 1980 as a public servant with the Ministry of the Interior and Safety.

He played a pivotal role in establishment of Sejong City as the commissioner of the National Agency for Administrative City Construction in 2011, an agency set up to prepare for relocation of ministries and public agencies to the city. During this time, he spearheaded initiatives to rename villages, roads, bridges and schools in Sejong using pure Korean.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Jung Da-hyun

Quelle/Source: The Korea Times, 29.04.2024

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