Chang-Won KIM is the 10th Chairman of the Cultural, Sports and Tourism Committee of the Seoul Metropolitan Council. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Committee for National Cohesion of the Democratic Party of Korea Born in 1968, KIM is a post-graduate in Social Welfare from the Samyook University.

In an interview with Ashok Tuteja, he explained how the authorities in Seoul are trying to improve the basic amenities in the South Korean capital to make it the most livable city in the world and how Seoul could help Delhi overcome its problems relating to urbanisation. Excerpts:

What is being done by the Seoul Metropolitan Council for job creation in cultural and art fields?

Although the cultural field has an important role in creating jobs in the era of 4th industrial revolution, the reality falls short of our expectations. Many of those who work in cultural and art industries are regarded as non-wage workers. Even if they are categorised as wage workers, they earn below the minimum wage.

Young people who are working in cultural and art fields are often forced to accept the so call “Passion Payment”, which refers to low wages paid to younger people. They accept low wages in the hope that their passion for work would help brighten their prospects for decent jobs. However, decent full-time jobs are very limited and have high entry barriers for the youth.

The tourism industry has a high level of dependence on human resources, while creating more jobs than any other industry. However, Korea’s tourism industry’s employment rate is 6.4%, which accounts for just 5.9% of GDP. It is still below the average level of the world. The number of tourism-related enterprises and employees, and the volume of revenues are growing every year. However, that has not helped creation of enough jobs.

The tourism industry is also very sensitive to natural disasters, epidemic diseases, and international political affairs. Korea’s tourism industry has not had a good time over the two years due to a political conflict between Korea and China ~ because of the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system.

In the face of all these difficulties, I expect additional market growth and job creations in the near future, given the potential of the tourism industry to contribute to economic development.

You are said to be working on an ordinance for Introduction of “No Cell Phone While Walking”. Could you please elaborate on that?

With the popularisation of electronic devices such as smartphones, many citizens are often using such devices while walking, which leads to accidents such as a collision between pedestrians. Accordingly, there is a growing public opinion that the government implement safety measures and encourage the public not to use such devices while walking.

To ensure safety at the Cheonggyecheon Stream and Seoullo 7017, a new pedestrian walkway in downtown Seoul, among other public spaces, I proposed to include the “No Use of Any Electronic Device While Walking” as restriction of the behaviour in a related ordinance, and asked the city government to install the signage saying “No Use of Smart Phones While Walking” at the two public places. The proposal will be presented at our ordinary meeting to promote the citizens’ safety and protection of public facilities.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently visited Seoul. Is there any proposal for cooperation between Seoul and Delhi?

Since Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon visited Delhi in November 2017, the two cities have decided to forge closer relations on various common issues. In September 2018, the two cities signed a friendship cooperation agreement to promote mutual exchanges between the two cities. Based on this agreement, both cities agreed to share information, policies and experiences on urban issues, such as environment, culture, and smart city.

After signing the agreement, Mayor Park Won-Soon said India is an important country that is rapidly growing in the IT sector based on abundant human resources. He had also stated that Seoul would expand business with India based on this friendly city agreement with Delhi.

In September 2017, Seoul opened the Seoul-India Economic Exchange Centre in Delhi and now it is helping Korea’s promising start-ups and small and medium-sized companies to enter the Indian market and to attract investment. India Prime Minister Narendra Modi also plans to promote start-ups in India with the “Start-up India” and “Digital India” policies, and make India a hub of the global IT industry.

How can Seoul help Delhi solve problems like air pollution and traffic congestion?

In a bid to solve the traffic congestion problem, the Seoul Metropolitan Government collects congestion charges fee at Tunnels No 1 and 3 that drivers must pay when they enter downtown Seoul. In addition, a policy is underway to reduce “traffic inducement fee” for companies that join the traffic demand management programmes. The programmes include “No-Driving Day” campaign, operation of commuter buses for employees, charging parking fees, and promoting the use of bicycles.

One of the biggest environmental issues in Seoul is fine dust. The Seoul Metropolitan Government is implementing various policies to improve the air quality. The city government believes that the most important thing to solve the air problem is to strengthen the public transport system and to reduce the use of cars.

Also, in an effort to improve air quality and traffic congestion, the expansion of urban railways is efficient. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has begun the construction of the subway since the 1970s and currently has nine lines in total, and is building light railways in the regions, which have relatively poor public transport network.