|▲ Mayor Deokyeol Yoo|
Dongdaemun District Seoul introduced ‘customized innovation implementation plan’ in 2018. The plan has been gathering opinions of the interested parties and reflecting them into building effective infrastructure for innovation. Alongside the plan, the district has been providing support for North Korean defectors in the jurisdiction, running a community café for them, activating social economy networks, and improving school bus system by introducing ‘Sleeping Child Check System’. The captain of this innovative driving force is the four time elected mayor of the district Deokyeol Yoo. <PowerKorea> learned about the plan and the regeneration projects.
1. It’s been a year since you took the office. How do you feel?
First of all, I must thank the residents of the district for letting me work for them again. I’ve worked hard and I will do my best for the remaining 4 years of my term. My philosophy as the mayor is quite simple: be kind, be transparent, be communicative and always safety first.
2. You’ve served the 2nd, the 5th, the 6th and the 7th terms as the mayor of Dongdaemun District. What do you think is your biggest achievement?
Throughout my four terms, I’ve poured my effort in improving the overall environment of the district. The Bodeumnuri Project, for example, improved lives of underprivileged. About 1,300 district staff, about the district’s 1,500 Welfare Committee members, and 160 organizations are making donation money or offering talent donation through the project. A total of 5 billion won has gone to 130,000 households in need as a result money-wise. The Suicide Prevention Campaign, for another example, was landed in the Suicide Prevention Ordinance and the Dongdaemun Mental Health Welfare Center. The number of suicide in the district fell sharply to 22 in rank among the districts in Seoul in the year 2017. Considering the fact that we were around 4 in rank between the years 2009 and 2016, it was a remarkable achievement.
3. How is the remodeling of Cheongyangri going?
Cheongyangri was notorious for a red-light district despite the station was the transport hub of the north of the Han River. Now, this notorious area is to see numerous large scale buildings including high-rise apartments, hotels, department stores and concert halls. By around 2022, these buildings will give a new landscape and skyline to the area with improved transport; Gangbukhoengdan Line and Myeonmog Line. The former starts from Cheonguyangri to Mok-dong via Hongreung, Kookmin University, Hongje and Digital Media City (total 25.72km). The latter links Cheongyangri, University of Seoul, Jeonnong-2 dong, Jangan-2 dong, Myeonmog and Sinnae railway depot (total 9.05km). In a nutshell, these lines will connect the east and the west faster.
4. Tell us about the improvement work of the traditional markets in the district?
We are improving toilets, making the signboard neat, and installing sun covers, roof, cooler and information center. We are pouring 20 billion won in remodeling 10 traditional markets in the district by 2022. We are pouring 1.5 billion won in creating a youth mall in Gyeongdong Market in order to attract young people to traditional markets in the region. Lastly, we are offering management support for market merchants through our ‘traditional market coordinators’.
5. What is your plan to create jobs for young people?
We remodeled the Dongdaemun Job Center last year and invited the Social Economy Hub Center, and the Fashion & Sewing Center. Recently, we opened De Gandaemae for creative people and startups while we are working on finding local crafts from porcelain to leather to give support. Also, we have agreed with Seoul and Korail to open Seoul Youth Zone on the Cheongyangri Plaza.
6. Tell us about childcare and education.
Low birth rate is a serious problem in South Korea. One effective solution is to open more daycare centers for the double income families. So the district has opened 10 more daycare centers for the last one year and it is our goal to open yearly 10 centers for the coming years. Also, we will provide subsidy for childrearing, electric and gas bills and free meals for more schools. We have raised the subsidy to 6 billion won this year for education alone.
7. How residents enjoy leisure activities in the district?
Baebong Mountain trail probably is the most famous for residents to enjoy a stroll. The 4.5km long wooden decked path takes about 1 and half hours for even wheelchairs to stroll around easily. On top of the mountain is a small park for climbers to rest over wind that cools down their sweaty body. This year, we will open Cheongjang Mountain trail ranging from Dongdaemun District to Seongbuk District. Apart from trails, we poured 6.8 billion won to remodel the district-owned sports centers, opened a library in Jangan-dong and Yeonhwa Temple with another one due open around Baebong Mountain accompanying a playground for babies and children. Lastly, we are working on more life-long learning centers where residents enroll for various programs.
8. Summer’s in full swing. What is your cool-down plan?
We run cool-down plan until 15th October. The cool-down plan looks into any possible incidents caused by the scorching hot weather especially for those 1,425 residents we think are vulnerable. We will closely be monitoring heat wave and flooding, and promptly sending alarming text, and rapidly engaging in damage recovery and cooperation alert.
9. What is your goal to achieve?
It is important to organize the 388 stores scattered here and there in disorderly manner around Wangsan Road, Gosanja Road and Hongreung Road. Relocation of the transfer station also is important as well as creating a cinema street and promoting the antique shops. I would like to mention that the 20 billion funded urban regeneration project around the Jangan-dong area and the 12.5 billion won funded urban regeneration project around the Jegi-dong area are already ongoing.
10. Lastly, would you kindly leave a message for our readers and your residents?
Dear <PowerKorea> readers and respected residents of Dongdaemun District. It is said that the economy is not good nowadays. I believe the government is doing its best and we are also working hard to make your lives better. Let us not be discouraged by this economic slowdown. Let us have courage and patience instead. If we keep working hard and holding firmly the virtue of patience, things will turn better one day. What I can promise as the mayor of the district, I and my staff will do our best only for the benefit of 350,000 residents of the district and serve you with kindness, transparency, communication and safety. I sincerely hope you take good care of yourselves in this hot weather conditions.
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