Seoul generates 15,400 tons of garbage each day, the equivalent of an eight-ton truck carrying 1,900 loads of waste. The city implemented a volume-rated garbage disposal system on January 1st, 1995, to deal with such a huge amount of garbage. The volume-rated system assigns the cost of waste collection by taking into account the waste volume. Recyclable waste is collected separately for reprocessing, and other waste is put into standardized bags for disposal. The new system is designed to reduce waste volume, promote resource recycling and protect the environment. Over 98 percent of citizens had participated in the new system only two weeks after its implementation, with the results being a 50 percent increase in the ratio of recycling and a 30 percent decrease in the total amount of waste generated.
The “10th-Day-No-Driving Campaign” was held from February 3rd until the end of May, affecting all passenger cars running within the capital city area. The measure was designed to prevent traffic jams caused by the comprehensive repair work that is being conducted on the 14 bridges that cross the Hangang River. 99 percent of car owners participated in the campaign over the 95 days that it was held, reflecting citizens’ strong commitment to solving traffic problems.
To share in the suffering of those affected by the severe drought that has been going on since last winter in the southern region, Seoul declared a city-wide “Water-Saving Campaign” that was held from February 15th until the end of the drought. The campaign lasted for 47 days and resulted in 250,000 tons of water saved each day.
The Seoul City government conducted a special inspection of all of its 22 district offices after a tax corruption incident in Bucheon. The inspection mobilized city and district office personnel in an effort to restore the public’s confidence in the municipal administration. In a press conference held on February 22nd, Seoul Mayor Choi Byeong-ryeol explained that 99 percent of the suspicious bills found proved to be the result of entry errors and that no systematic corruption was discovered. As a follow-up action, the Seoul City government implemented new measures to improve tax administration.
Three gu (districts) were created in Seoul. Gwangjin-gu was separated from Seongdong-gu, Gangbuk-gu from Dobong-gu, and Geumcheon-gu from Guro-gu. As a result, the number of gu in Seoul increased to 25.
To pay tribute to the democratic ideals of the April 19 Revolution, the Seoul City government undertook renovations of the April 19th National Cemetary in which many freedom fighters were laid to rest beginning in October of 1993. The renovations were completed a year and a half later, and the cemetery was upgraded to a national cemetery on this past April 19th. The cemetary enshrines 222 people, including a patriotic martyr named Kim Ju-yeol.
The 8.2-kilometer section of the Inner Circulation Expressway that surrounds northern Seoul between the Hangang Grand Bridge and the Yongbi Bridge was opened on May 27th, five years and six months after construction began.
The current Seoul City Hall is a dated and cramped building that is dispersed across eight different places, making it difficult to accommodate the necessary divisions and the employees required for administration. The Seoul City government has implemented a plan to build a new City Hall whose completion is scheduled in 2001. On June 3rd, Mayor Choi Byeong-ryeol announced that the new building will be constructed on the same site as the current one.
The fourth local elections (and the first to use the “popular vote” election system) were held on June 27th. Citizens directly elected the city mayor, 25 heads of gu (district), 147 members of the municipal council and 806 members of the gu council for the first time in 34 years. Elections were held at 3,186 polling stations nationwide with ballot papers and ballot boxes of four different colors. Cho Sun was elected as the 30th mayor of Seoul City, beating candidates Chung Won-sik and Park Chan-jong. Cho is only the second mayor of Seoul to be elected by popular vote since the establishment of the Republic of Korea government.
The whole country was shaken to its core when the Sampoong Department Store collapsed on the evening of June 30th and by the loss of human lives that resulted from it. Mayor Cho Sun, who just recently took over the mayoral seat from Choi Byeong-ryeol, led the rescue operations at the rainy accident site. The mayor also held an emergency meeting to prepare further response measures. The Seoul City government immediately set up an emergency task force within the City Hall and established a 24-hour command headquarters on-site that consisted of ten teams including a general affairs team, a rescue team, a traffic control team, a recovery team and a clean-up team. The 600 members of the joint rescue team, comprised of civilians and military personnel, devotedly worked together to rescue as many people as they could. Civic organizations and residents of the Seocho-gu distict prepared food for the rescue workers and provided medical assistance, while companies sent the excavators and cranes that were needed for the rescue operation. The Sampoong accident showed us what it means to show love for your fellow human beings. Seoul City operated a tax and financing support center to issue certificates for the victims, and it was dedicated to the recovery efforts that included providing mediation for the victims’ compensation. The accident led the city to carry out the safety inspection of multi-unit buildings such as multi-use public facilities and apartment buildings where citizen safety should be given top priority. The city government also ordered dangerous illegally-modified structures to be restored to their original, intended forms. 19 large parking lots, including some in Dongdaemun and Sejongro, were given a safety inspection by municipal authorities. Repairs were ordered for the lots that were believed to pose a safety risk. Moreover, the process of issuing building permits has changed and it now requires that a copy of a construction supervision contract be submitted with a permit application. Other laws also have been revised to prevent shoddy construction methods.
The fourth municipal council was opened on July 12th with much anticipation on the part of citizens. The 147 council members elected Mun Il-gwon as chairman and Kim Gi-yeong and Lee Seon-gu as vice chairmen.
The results of an expert examination of the Seongsu Bridge by a British inspection team revealed the necessity to completely reconstruct the upper plate of the bridge, meaning that only the bridge piers will be left as they are. The parts of the Seongsu Bridge that will be reconstructed will make the structure much sturdier overall and take less time to build than an entire bridge reconstruction. The reconstruction is scheduled for completion in December of 1996.
Various celebratory events were held to mark the 50th anniversary of Korea’s liberation and to revive national spirit and pride. On August 15th, around 4,000 people from nine cities gathered and marched from Dongdaemun Stadium thru Jongno 5-ga and Tapgol Park to Gwanghwamun in order to celebrate independence. Additionally, 10 historic sites of the independence movement were restored and 100 Koreans living overseas who brought glory to the fatherland were invited to Korea and presented with honorary Seoul citizen certificates. Finally, there were various performances held by municipal organizations as well as exhibitions, a citizens’ event along the Hangang River and a cultural goods exhibition.
Heavy torrential rain poured down on Seoul and the central region on August 23rd. Still marked by the massive flood in 1990, Seoul City has made steady efforts over the past three years to prevent flood damage, particularly by establishing and repairing pumping sites, and no citizen had to be evacuated this time. The 1,415,000-pyeong (3.3 square meter) area that covers the nine Hangang districts including Jamsil and Yeouido was inundated but Hangang Citizens Park was recovered thanks to the dedicated efforts of 6,000 soldiers and civil employees.
Mayor Cho Sun recently formed an Urban Administration Planning Team to assist in the implementation of his three-year city operation plan. Lee Hae-chan, the vice mayor in charge of political affairs, will supervise the team of 11 external professionals and city government employees. Headed by the general manager of the Planning Division, the new team aims to establish the framework for autonomous administration through preparation of mid- and long-term city plans and projects that will provide a basic vision for the Seoul City administration for the next three years.
The inauguration ceremony of Mayor Cho Sun, postponed due to the Sampoong accident, was held on September 1st at Kim Gu Plaza in Namsan Mountain. Speaking in front of 5,000 citizens, Cho said that he plans to transform Seoul into a safe and environmental city with convenient transportation and cultural affluence, as well as an international city of welfare and care for neighbors with secure residences and an openness towards the globe. He urged citizens to join the efforts to create a new era.
The five-kilometer section of the Northern City Expressway between the northern end of Seongsan Grand Bridge and Hongeun-dong was completed on September 5th after a five-year construction period.
The Seoul Business Start-up Care Center provides counseling and support for those who want to start their own business but lack the capital and technology to do so, or to business owners with an experience of less than one year. The center recently opened in a 1,100-pyeong area of Deungchon-dong, Gangseo-gu. Twenty-one companies were selected to reside in the center.
The Junggye Senior Citizens Welfare Center, the first care center for elderly people suffering from palsy and dementia, opened on September 23rd. Gangnam Hospital, a local public hospital, will provide training and consultation for staff of the center, which has a capacity of 230 patients.
District offices in Jongno-gu, Nowon-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu, and Seocho-gu began to issue passports on October 1st. Residents of other districts, cities or provinces can also have passports issued in those four offices, eliminating inconveniences.
Mayor Cho Sun opened a new chapter of urban diplomacy with his tour of three cities - Tokyo, Beijing, and Ulan Bator - from October 1st to the 8th. The mayor secured commitments for fostering practical exchanges between Seoul and each of the three cities in meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Murayama, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China Jang Zemin and the president and prime minister of Mongolia. In this, the Seoul mayor - only the second to be elected by popular vote in Korea’s history - confirmed major differences in approach compared to his predecessors.
The Seoul City government adopted a private business concept with its decision to select the president of the Agricultural and Fisheries Market in Garak-dong, the first government-controlled market, via an open and competitive recruitment process. Kim Chang-ho was appointed as the president on October 2nd.
The Seoul City government finalized the Ttukseom Development Plan on October 30th. Under the plan, 350,000 pyeong in Ttukseom, located in the northeastern part of Seoul, will be developed into a sport and leisure complex and a wholesale distribution center. The first project involves the construction of a multi-purpose dome and an indoor ice rink capable of accommodating 55,000 people. Construction for that project is scheduled to be completed by 2001.
Second-phase construction of the Seoul subway was recently completed. Specifically, the section that connects 14 stations between Wangsibri and Sangil-dong opened on November 15th. The new section features a fully automated operating system, high-tech rail cars and more attractive stations, making it much more comfortable for passengers. This new section will be operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation.
A pilot operation of the Smart Card system in city buses was held. The Smart Card system allows passengers to simply swipe Smart Cards in order to pay the fare instead of using coins and tokens. The new system will be installed in all city buses starting in the second half of 1996 in order to make payment more convenient, to increase the use of public transportation and to reduce traffic congestion.
More charnel houses are urgently needed due to the increasing shortage of graveyards. On December 6th, a modern charnel house was opened near a crematorium in Goyang City, Gyeonggi-do.
The Seoul City government conducted a safety inspection of the Dangsan Iron Bridge and concluded that it is safe for use but that some of the vertical cracks need to be repaired. The city government has thus ordered a complete replacement of the bridge’s upper plates. Construction will commence in December of 1996, after the opening of Subway Line No. 5, in order to reduce the inconvenience for citizens.
A bus operation improvement plan designed to make city buses a more efficient and effective method of transportation was announced on December 29th. The current bus operation will be made more convenient thanks to a comprehensive overhaul that will include the establishment of public garages, the implementation of a joint dispatch system and the erection of bus departure/arrival signboards.