Robert Gilbert(Moderator): Thank you for sparing some of this wonderful fall day to come and sit in side with us for this town hall meeting. Vice Mayor Won Se Hoon will be presiding today, he’s just joined us. If everybody can take their seats we’ll go ahead and get started. Before we start, we would like to show a film called Hi Seoul. I think that you will find the present administration of Mayor Lee Myung Bak has been very aggressive in developing the aesthetic parts of Seoul and addressing a lot of difficulties of urban life. I think this film will give you a quick overview on some of the key things that this administration is working on. Opening Robert Gilbert: I thank all of you for coming today. I would like to welcome all of you to the 5th Seoul Town Hall Meeting. It’s hard to imagine that so many years have come and gone already. The Town Hall Meetings were originally inspired by a decision between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Foreign Investment Advisory Committee to get together with the foreign residents to understand better their impressions of Seoul and how Seoul could be improved. And today, we’ll be going through some of the achievements and recent accomplishments of the Seoul City in trying to address some of those issues and concerns. But before we get started, I would like to recognize some of the special members of our audience today, four Ambassadors who work in Korea. Because I don’t have the proper seniority, I’d like to introduce them in the order I have their cards. First, Dr. Babiker Ali Khalifa, the ambassador of Sudan, would you please acknowledge. Dr. Istvan Torzsa, ambassador of Hungary, Federico Gonzales, the ambassador of Paraguay and the ambassador of Honduras. I think you should find the program in front of you and as you can see the next thing to do is to introduce Mr. Lee Myung Bak. Unfortunately, the Mayor is not available today and in his place is the Vice Mayor Mr. Won Se Hoon who will give some opening remarks. Vice Mayor: Thank you. Distinguished guests, members of the advisory groups for the city government and members of foreign communities, I extend a warm welcome to all participants in the fifth Seoul Town Meeting. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you all for taking time out of your busy schedule. It is a great pleasure to host this meeting today, bringing together around 150 foreign residents of Seoul. Changes in the city in recent years such as setting up English programs on the Traffic Broadcasting Station, establishing an English village, building more elevators & escalators at many subway stations and launching the medical referral service and visa related service at the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners, all resulted from the Seoul Town Meetings. This Seoul Town meeting, as one of those initiatives, doubtlessly provides foreign people in the city with an excellent opportunity to come up with ideas and to get themselves heard by the city policy makers. Therefore, I would like to encourage you to raise your voice in today’s meeting as I am convinced that your invaluable contribution will be a foundation for the progress of this city. I sincerely hope that you will find this meeting productive. In closing, I would like to repeat my appreciation of your participation today. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: Thank you very much Mr. Won. We also have some welcoming remarks by Joan Baron who was the Chairman of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council and is the leader of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Joan Baron: Thank you, Robert. Vice Mayor Won, Ladies and Gentleman, and Seoul employees: I would like to welcome you and thank you all for attending the 5th Seoul Town Hall meeting for Expatriates. We have come a long way since I first started participating in this project in 1999, and I am tremendously proud of the results that have stemmed from the efforts of all involved. I think that these meetings are an excellent opportunity for both the expatriate community of Seoul and Seoul City officials to learn from each other. As Seoul is a city constantly striving to make improvements for all those that call it home – whether it is for a few years or a lifetime, it is imperative that we continue to maintain the open lines of communication these Town Hall Meetings have created. This is a world-class city but even world-class cities must remain progressive in their thinking. Mayor Lee along with SMG Officials has shown their desire to create an exceptional living environment for all who reside here. This is evident by some of the positive changes his administration has made in 2004, such as the new bus system, the beautiful open space in front of City Hall, and a revamped help desk for foreigners. For this reason, I am confident that the suggestions put forth today will fall on fertile ground. Korea is a nation focused on becoming the hub of Asia. Therefore, it continues to reach out to its expatriate community for its support and guidance in attaining this goal, and I hope today we can have a positive impact on helping Seoul become the benchmark for other Asian cities. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation today. Robert Gilbert: Thank you Joan. Joan and I both know, as long time residents of Seoul, it really is bench marking in many ways for not only the East Asia but for world class living. One of the things that we’ve done after each of the Town Hall Meetings is to compile the report of the suggestions that were brought up by the people of the meeting. And each Town Hall Meeting began by recapping the previous meetings, recommendations made and what kinds of actions the City of Seoul has taken. I think that’s the real proof of the importance of these meetings and how your recommendations can influence the City’s direction. Mr. Young Choi, Director General of Industry Department will give a report. 2003 Seoul Town Meeting Follow-up Young Choi (Director General of Industry): Thank you Mr. Gilbert. As introduced, I am Director General of Industry of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Now please look at the power point. OK. The first suggestion was Providing 24-hour English Medical Referral Service (MRS). To provide help in emergencies, Seoul Metropolitan Government has launched a 24-hour telephone "Medical Referral Service" for foreign residents and visitors, which refers callers to appropriate medical facilities and services beginning April 6. Volunteers are available all day to receive phone calls in English. More detailed information will be provided by Seoul Help Center in the second session of today’s meeting. The SMG-run TBS (Traffic Broadcasting System) began broadcasting the country's first English radio programs on March 15."Hi, Seoul" and "I Love You Seoul" delivering information of most interest to foreigners, for instance cutting news from local cultural and tourist scenes or public news from various foreign communities. For traffic conditions, foreigners can tune in for a one-minute traffic update provided on an hourly basis from 7:55 a.m. to 7:55 p.m. The third suggestion was to open the Seoul English Village. The Seoul Metropolitan Government launched "Seoul English Village" November 22, this year, which is officially expected to open December 7. The district, located in Pungnap-dong, southeastern Seoul, provides young students with real-life experiences in English-speaking countries through various simulated environments such as going through an immigration office or booking a hotel. Organizers expect the campus can host up to 10, 000 students annually. Next, providing visa-related services. Seoul Help Center for Foreigners run by the SMG will provide visa related services in January next year. Service target people are investors who wish to renew a D-8 visa and their dependent families F-3 visa, and provide an extension, alteration, and other related services. SMG is planning to extend the service to other visas. SHC will provide you with more detailed information of the service in the second session. Now, follow-up for the suggestions regarding transportation. First suggestion was the need of a bus map or other map for foreigners that is easy to read: With the new traffic system starting July 1st, 2004, SMG produced and distributed 18,000 copies of an English bus map indicating major hotels, hospitals, shopping centers, how to use bus cards, etc. The English map indicating all bus routes, foreign residential areas and areas frequently visited by foreigners, was completed. (10,000 copies). And another suggestion was the need to make more “Pedestrian only” areas or zones. Current “Pedestrian only” streets are: First, restricted Hours : 4 places - Myungdong street, Insadong street, Nakwondong road, Damyung street, and 24 Hour Zones : 4 places (Jungangro, Kwanchuldong street, Changdong 1, 2 road. SMG will make more “pedestrian only zones” after research is conducted on Cheonggyechon restoration and vicinity project on listening to residents and discussion with the Police. And the next item was a need to enlarge the size of English on road signs. Due to limitation of the size of road signs, enlargement of English characters will reduce the size of Korean characters thus adding to the potential for more car accidents. With the monitoring system on the established road signs, spelling corrections and cleaning of signs is more advantageous for the time being. Examined option about adding “Stop signs” at smaller intersection that do not have traffic lights. At intersections without traffic lights in Seoul, temporary stop signs (Traffic security sign No. 224) are being established and installed. Other suggestions related to the central government. It was stated that the Central government is focusing only on the American education system. The newly established Yongsan Foreign School will have British school and German School systems. The intent of the central government is to provide diverse educational opportunities for foreigners. And a second comment was made that there is a lack of efficient Korean language programs for foreign residents. The Ministry of Education & Human Resources Development is planning to open a KLS course (Korean Language School). Demand for such programs is currently being investigated. And next item was regarding the comment that there is a need to simplify the immigration process. The immigration office formed the Office of Immigration Policy Development, to develop a variety of system improvements such as an easier process of getting permanent residence, visa extension, simplifying in and out process, simplifying the visa extension of foreign language instructors, for example. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: I think that looking at the range of topics we covered, you can see that Seoul Metropolitan Government have followed through very carefully all the issues brought up at the Seoul Town Meeting. Unfortunately many of these are actually outside the power of the Seoul government, so, require coordination and assistance from the central government. But they have made tremendous efforts to make living in Seoul a better experience for all of us. We’ll move on now to the first presentation, which is transportation, particularly the bus system. When we think about transportation, we usually think about how we can move cargo and people from point A to point B faster and quicker. But these days, that kind of transportation planning is much more complex and requires considerations of air quality, aesthetic quality, access to disabled people and other considerations. So, it becomes a very complex matter particularly when it has to be balanced with available resources in terms of capital and technology. Today, we will have a presentation on what has happened over the last year or so in Seoul in terms of implementing a new bus system to try to get people out of their cars and into public transportation and improve congestion and air quality for all of us. To give a presentation is Mr. Kyung Chul, Kim of the Seoul Development Institute. Seoul’s bus system Dr. Kyung Chul Kim (Dr. Kim): Thank you. Welcome distinguished guests. Thank you for coming today. It is my honor to have the opportunity to present the Seoul Bus system Renovation Project to you. My name is Dr. Gyengchul Kim, and I am in charge of the program research team at the Seoul Development Institute. Two and half years ago, my team was organized to design and prepare for this large-scale project. Today's presentation is just the overview of the whole project. I have divided my presentation into four parts. First, the traffic conditions and problems in Seoul will be described. Second, the Strategies and action program to solve those problems will be mentioned. Third, we implemented the new program on the first of July this year, so I will talk about what has happened and what is currently going on. Finally, I will share Seoul's vision of future transportation and our further tasks with you. As you can see from this graph, the population of Seoul has doubled since 1970. In 2003, it was 10.4 million. On the other hand, the registered number of vehicles in Seoul has increased 46 times in the same period. Currently, Seoul has about 2.78M vehicles. Despite the stable populations for the last 10 years, the number of vehicles is continually increasing. Among them, 73.5 percent is made up of passenger cars consisting of only one driver with no passengers. These vehicles cause congestion and inefficiency of an urban transport system. As a result of the rapid vehicle increase, modal share has also changed. The modal share of cars has increased from 24.6% in 1996 to 27.5% in 2002, and Subway use has increased from 29.4% to 33.3%. On the other hand, the share of buses has decreased from 30.1% to 26.2%. Although efforts have been made to increase the mode share of public transportation, such as a huge investment for the underground (over 300km), passenger car percentages have gone up while the public transportation system has remained almost the same. The traffic volume passing across the boundary of Seoul is increasing. The number of vehicles has increased from 2.68 M vehicles in 1996 to over 3.15M vehicles in 2003. It is caused by the continuous development of new towns in the metropolitan areas, and the lack of public transportation to link these new towns to the city downtown areas. In Seoul, the average speed of buses is slower than passenger cars. Passenger cars can have a speed of approximately 20.2 km/h, but buses only have a speed of less than 20 km/h. Improvements need to be made, however, as you know, building a new subway takes too much time and money(US$100M/km). In addition, it is difficult to follow the rapid expansion of the metropolitan areas. For these reasons, improving the bus system is the only other option. However, there are structural problems related to buses. Because of the limited road capacity, the dramatic increase of solo drivers and the inefficient bus management system, the business environment for bus companies have continued to worsen, which has resulted in poor punctuality, poor reliability and slower speeds of buses. This has caused a significant decrease in revenues and the number of bus users causing the bus companies to go bankrupt. To solve this problem, in the 1980s and 1990s, Seoul's transportation policy was focused on the increase of road capacity, which induced the increase of vehicle ownership. As a result, the policy was not able to meet the explosive vehicle demand in a limited urban space. Starting from the 2000s, everyone recognized that public transportation could be a good alternative and should be improved, but nothing was done to improve conditions at that point. So, the competitiveness of the bus system continued to deteriorate until 2002, when the New Mayor Mr. Myung-bak Lee decided to begin a new bus system renovation project. The key to solving transportation problems is the concurrent application of improved public transport and policies restricting the use of passenger cars. The aim of the Seoul Bus Reform Program is to improve the bus service, thus leading to the vitalization of the bus industry. To achieve the aim, several projects were prepared as a package. Because the bus system is a complex one, every aspect of the bus system needed to be changed at the same time. The main tasks included building a new operation and support system. The new operation system consists of two projects: building a trunk and feeder line system and a new bus business scheme. To support the new operation system, eleven other projects have been carried out. Publicity and the Internet homepage were arranged to meet the schedule. In order to check the progress and stabilize the new bus system, monitoring projects were also prepared. First, bus lines were reorganized as trunk and feeder lines. Trunk lines provide direct connections between suburbs and downtown, between downtown and sub-centers, and between sub-centers. Feeder lines link to trunk line stops/subway stations for easy transfer, and provide public transportation for local demand. There are 18 main trunk lines. These trunk line buses have been given bus priority like RED-Route in the London transport scheme. As a result of the project, the buses have been classified in a functional hierarchy of 4 levels. The blue bus is a trunk line. The green bus is a feeder line. The yellow bus is a circular line for providing a local bus service within the downtown area. Red bus is express trunk line to link the metropolitan area and the downtown area. The buses are numbered in a way that people can recognize the operating area of a certain bus. Seoul is divided into 8 sections and a number is assigned from 0 to 7 according to the section. In all, bus numbers are configured by a starting point section number, and followed by an arrival point section number, and finally the serial number of the buses. The other main project is the change in the bus business scheme, which is now by revenue based on vehicle multiplied by km, not the number of passengers. The change includes contracting the main trunk lines, and overseeing the joint management among the private bus companies of revenues and scheduling of operation. To achieve the two main projects, several supporting systems were also developed. First, exclusive median bus lanes were expanded. Currently we have 7.6 km of exclusive median bus lanes. These were expanded by an additional 74.6 km. In 2005 and thereafter, an additional 87.8 km will be created, for a total of 162.4 km. The slide shows the plan for the exclusive median bus lanes. These median bus lanes have shown an increase of 60 % in average bus speed. The BMS (Bus Management System) was built to manage and control an efficient bus operation. By installing the GPS(Global Positioning System) in every bus, BMS can identify each bus's position and control its scheduling. This information is also provided to bus companies and passengers at bus stops. The performance of bus operations will be monitored, and as a result, incentives and penalties will be given to each bus company. Punctuality and safety data from the BMS are key factors to be monitored in order to check 63 private companies. A new fare card system was re-developed. The previous card system did not satisfy international standards but the new smart card does, and in addition has multi-functional services like mileage service and E-money card. It is a kind of PPP (Public Private Partnership). Seoul Metropolitan Government provides exclusive patent business and private companies build hardware systems. Seoul Metropolitan government has 36 % of the new card company's share. New high quality user-friendly buses are being introduced. High capacity articulated buses, and low-floor buses are now in operation. To reduce air pollution, CNG buses are also currently in operation. We have introduced a free-of-charge fare system for transfers. Users pay the fare based only on traveled distance. For single trips, the fare will be charged by mode types. But for transferring passengers, the fare will be charged based on the accumulated distance traveled. The base fare of 800 won is charged for up to 10 km, with an extra charge of 100 for every additional 5 km. For cash paying users however, a surcharge of 100 won is applied for every mode type and they cannot benefit from the free transfers. We implemented the new bus reform program on the 1st of July. The photograph shows a new exclusive median bus lane. In Kangnam-daero, queues were generated in the bus lane, because of the long dwelling time at the bus stop causing confusion to the route, error in fare system and one-door buses from GyengGi province. Also at Susaek and Dobong-ro, passenger cars' speeds were decreased more than expected. Bus users were confused by the new bus routes and bus numbers. Even though we tried our best to provide information about it, confusion was inevitable. But, now the whole system has stabilized. The average speed for both bus and car has increased from 10 km/h to over 20 km/h. The exclusive median bus lane carries 6 times more passengers than other lanes. In addition, punctuality has improved. For example, the deviation of total travel time at Dobong & Miaro is 2.7 minutes for buses and 15.3 minutes for passenger cars. The number of Public transportation users in July and August increased 11.0% from the same period last year. Even the number of passengers of underground has increased. Traffic accidents have decreased about 26.9%. As we achieved a good result from such speed increases, improved punctuality and safety, bus users are requesting new median exclusive bus lanes. The free transfer system has resulted in a change in travel behavior of the bus users. The three significant changes are as follows: To avoid traffic congestion areas, the passengers freely switch transport modes from bus to subway and then back to the bus again. Users have been taking advantage of the free transfer period of 30 minutes, they can get off the bus, and conduct their personal business and get back on at the same bus stop to continue on to their destination. Some users want to avoid long waiting times at the bus stop. Now these users are familiar with the bus routes and their intervals, they take multiple buses with shorter intervals to reach their destination instead of waiting for a single bus with a longer interval. There were some upgrade points of our bus system such as the T-money card system can be used at Taxi. And also Dynamic bus information system needs at major bus stops. We still have to build more exclusive median bus lanes, transfer terminals, bus priority signals, better street furniture etc. We are continuing passenger car restriction policies. Currently, we are charging 2,000 won to passenger cars carrying less than 2 passengers including the driver at Namsan Mountain's tunnel numbers 1 and 3. We plan to review the needs of expanding congestion charges. Management of parking spaces is also being considered to reduce passenger cars in downtown areas well served by metro system. We demolished an elevated motorway and are restoring the Cheongye stream. As traffic had increased, w had covered Cheongye-stream to make a huge road, and also built the elevated motorway . But last year, we demolished that elevated motorway as part of our strong car-restriction policy. It has reduced car volume by 125,000veh/day within downtown. Also to reduce the passenger car space, we created the Seoul Citizen Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. It had been a huge junction with no pedestrian crossing, a typical car-oriented space. But now we have converted it to green pedestrian open space, also part of the strong car-restriction policy. The vision for Seoul's future transportation is to change the city from automobile oriented, vehicle friendly, and isolated modes of transportation to public transportation oriented, pedestrian friendly, and integrated modes of transportation. To achieve this, we will continuously improve the bus and subway systems and the transfer system and we will better manage passenger cars. Thank you. I look forward to your comments and we need your ideas. Thank you very much. Robert Gilbert: Thank you Dr. Kim for very interesting and comprehensive review of the new bus system. We’ll take questions after the second presentation on both transportation and waste management .The next presentation is by Mr. Sang-ho, Han, Director of Waste Management. It’s an area that most of us don’t think about much, but it’s really a mounting problem in major urban areas in Seoul. Mr.Han will discuss one of the ways Seoul’s trying to address it. Waste management system Sang Ho Han(Director of Waste Management): Good afternoon! I am Director Sang Yeol, Han, Director of Waste Management Division of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Thank you for your interest in Seoul city government’s service. All citizens living in Seoul are required to use standard waste bag when they throw away waste. However, in a few cases, foreign residents who are not familiar with the system fail to follow the regulation. Therefore, today, I would like to introduce Seoul’s waste disposal system. The Volume-based Waste Removal System imposes differentiated treatment cost as determined by the amount of waste generated by each resident. Under the Volumebased Waste Fee System, waste is collected and disposed of in synthetic resin volumebased waste bags provided in each district. The system was enforced nationwide in January 1995 in order to reduce the amount of generated waste and foster recycling. There are two types of trash bags. One is for household and one for industrial use. The bags for household use are further divided by color into 3 categories: white bags for general waste, yellow for food and PP bag for construction waste. There are various sizes of bags ranging from 1ι to 100ι. Households mainly use 10ι or 20ι bags. Waste bags are sold at local grocery stores and supermarkets. Residents should purchase waste bags designated by sanitation agencies in charge of their neighborhood waste collection. Residents should discard of general waste in standard trash bags, after sorting out recyclable waste. Recyclable waste should be discarded in designated recycling bins. Please Note: Recyclables need not be disposed of in standard trash bags. The mayor of each autonomous district determines waste collection times. However, most autonomous districts set waste collection times from sunset (6:00 pm) to 5:00 am. Those living in private residences should bind and place full trash bags in front of their home for collection. Trash bags are available at designated stores. Residents should bind paper waste including newspapers, books, and cardboard and place them in front of their homes for collection. Glass bottles, aluminum cans, steel, and plastic should be discarded in transparent plastic bags. Recyclable wastes need not be discarded in standard trash bags. Clean and remove stickers or other non-recyclables from recyclable plastics and Styrofoam, then bind and place them in transparent plastic bags for disposal. Before discarding food waste, drain all liquids. Then place in appropriate bins or food waste bags. Food waste-only disposal bins are located in most residential areas. Disposal of bulk waste such as furniture and household appliances, bicycles, pram/strollers, etc., must first be reported to community(dong) or ward(Gu) offices, then they must be discarded according to official procedure. Small amounts of waste generated by repair or removal of buildings may be discarded in volume-based waste bags. However, large amounts of waste should be cleared away by an authorized trash removal agency. Thank you very much. Robert Gilbert: Thank you Mr. Han. At this point, we would like to welcome any of your questions or comments on the bus system or waste management. I have a question for Mr. Han. In many places, many parts of the world, you are required to provide some kind of plastic or metal containers, particularly to keep waste away from animals and other kinds of problems. Is that something that may be coming in the future? Director Han: In the US, people are required to throw away garbage into different types of containers according to what is the type of garbage. However, it is difficult in Korea. Therefore, we use standard waste bags. For wet garbage, you should take away moist first, make it dry and then put it in the garbage bag. Robert Gilbert: Thank you. Participant 1: I have been in Seoul for a while and I have seen a big improvement both in transportation and I think also in the garbage collection. Both subjects have been discussed earlier in several meetings and also in foreign-related discussions with the Seoul Government, so, I’m really impressed with the improvement. But I have two more points, one related to traffic and other one related to waste collection. I think the Seoul government is not utilizing fully the underground spaces available. Of course it costs money but, in several countries, for instance, using the transportation systems by people who come by car, the parking is one of the difficulties not just inside the city but also at subway stations further away. This is the first suggestion. The second is waste management. I think it’s not so aesthetic to have the garbage bags on the streets. Well that’s may be the similar questions we had earlier. In Europe, not deep underground but lightly underground, waste collection systems are built to input the garbage bags. Of course, these cannot be installed in front of every small houses on the small streets. But, anyhow, in bigger apartment complexes or other areas it’s possible to install that kind of system. Also the collection is easier especially in summer time when it is hot, the smell doesn’t come out and it keeps the waste colder making it much more aesthetic. This is my comment and partly question. Robert Gilbert: Mr. Han, did you want to comment on that? Director Han: Yes, I will. First, thank you for your good comment. Currently, we make a lot of effort to improve aesthetic aspects including smell from waste on the street. However, when we consider the condition of the city of Seoul, it’s difficult to find places, lightly deep underground, in which people can put waste bags. Therefore, autonomous districts of Seoul designated days of waste collection. So, residents are required to put out their garbage bags on that day so that we can collect them. Also, the city cracks down on illegal disposal of waste. Reporters of any violation cases can be rewarded. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: More questions or comments? Participant 2: I have noticed since 1997 a lot of improvements which were very well done and I support the idea of the pedestrian areas. I found out that especially in these areas there are only a few sitting facilities like benches for older people or the public in general. Also the same applies to park facilities. There are only a few facilities for sitting there. And the second question is regarding the publishing of information. You noticed that there is a radio traffic information broadcasting system. But information can be published and valid also on the Internet or PDA. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: Dr. Kim, do you have the frequency of the radio traffic system? Director Choi: It’s 95.1, FM. Robert Gilbert: Thank you. Frans Hampsink (President of EUCCK): My name is Frans Hampsink from the European Union Chamber of Commerce. I think there is a lot more appreciation to be shown for what has been done by the Mayor and the staff of Seoul. There has been improvement over the last 10 years and I think a lot of cities and areas are following in their footsteps. However, there’s always space for improvement and this is where I’d like to make a few comments. I think the city should still give a lot of attention to the traffic violations in front of stoplights. This morning, in the area near the Hyatt Hotel, I stopped my car and I saw that two buses and a car passed me on the inside and all went through red light area. I think cameras should be installed and more violation tickets should be issued. And especially for buses, if anyone crosses the street, with the speed they are passing through the red light, these pedestrians are dead. Then I’d like to make some comments on what has been said on page 11 about the visa services at City Hall, I think that’s a very good idea. And, I think that Seoul, Korea should start thinking about FDI foreign investment and about people who are living here for a long time, that they should get residence cards. They shouldn’t be needing to go every year to apply for their visas. We should not be alien; we should be part of Korea. We should get a residence card like people get in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore. We always want to compete with these countries so compete in that area as well. Page 15, we have mentioned that the newly established Yongsan Foreign School will have British and German school systems. That is still under discussion. Nothing has been done yet to finalize that. They are in pre-discussions about this, if that does happen, and we all hope so, then we hope that a lot of French kids and parents will join that project as well. And I hope that that will be very much in Seoul’s favor and I think for FDI, it would be a big advantage because a lot of foreign investors will not send families out of Korea because there is not a proper education system. Also I’d like to talk about what happens on the city plaza. It’s a huge improvement and I’m very happy that this has happened. I think that it meant for art and culture events, which are becoming more frequent and I think it’s great job that has been done by the city. I hope, however, that we’ll not have too many demonstrations out there. I think the demonstrators should go to other areas and leave these people to enjoy the art and culture events in peace. I think we should also do something for the needy. The winter is coming up, I take every now and then the subway and I see a lot of homeless people in the subways. The numbers are doubling and I think it’s time for the city of Seoul and us to think about that a little bit more and to help these people. Thank you very much. Ambassador of Sudan: Thank you. I am the ambassador of Sudan. I would like to thank Mayor Lee and the officials of Seoul Metropolitan Government for inviting us to attend Seoul Town Meeting today. This is my second time to attend this meeting. Also, I had an opportunity to attend meetings of the International Business Advisory Council for the Mayor. I think it’s a brilliant idea, whether they are ambassadors or diplomats or foreign investors like presidents of foreign chambers of commerce and other foreigners who are working in Seoul, to attend and participate in such meetings, because always observers or people from outside can give you recommendations. It is true that English , whether we like it or not, has become the international business and diplomatic language. For example, I remember, in November 2002, in the International Advisory Council, they adopted a recommendation that all monthly bills to embassies or foreign companies be in two languages, the Korean language as well as English. But, this recommendation was not implemented. Until today, we receive our monthly bills, our electricity or whatever, only in Korean. I really appreciate the endeavors and efforts to promote the communication in English in schools and medical services and all the improvement there. Another improvement, I think, regarding traffic violations. Every embassy or diplomat who received tickets for violations just submitted something to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and it would be cleared. But, I believe that special parking areas, as is the custom in every capital all over the world, should be located for diplomats at certain public buildings or places where diplomats go. Regarding the facilities for the collection of garbage, I live in Hannam-dong, and near me, there are some ambassadors’ residences there. There are also the embassies of Cambodia and Thailand. I witnessed that, on the streets where I live, sometimes the garbage is there for two or three days without collection. As for collecting garbage, we put ours outside the embassy and we were contacted and asked to pay 200,000 Won, which we paid. Anyhow, I appreciate the idea and effort done by our friend, the Mayor, to improve Seoul Metropolitan area and Seoul city. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: Thank you. Ambassador. Michael Breen(FIAC member): I think both of the presentations were very good and informative. Mr. Han made the point about the garbage collection time and people being fined. I have lived here for a long time and I actually didn’t realize that. Now I understand why my garbage collection man rings the bell and try to get money. Because I thought, like garbage men around the world, he was trying to get some extra money illegally. I, in fact, may be one of the offenders here because I just put garbage out when the bag is full and sometimes it sits there for several days. I don’t actually know what day or what time the garbage is collected. It might be an idea, I mean if the day is different in each dong or each gu, for some way for foreign residents to be advised about that, I think the dong office knows exactly who the foreigners are, where they are. So, just a note in English, Japanese, Chinese to advise us. Secondly, on Dr. Kim’s traffic, just a couple of things. I don’t know if you have done any study on the use of the bus system by foreign residents. I think a lot of people here never use buses, I don’t know if we are in a good position to comment. But one comment I have heard is that the system is quite confusing to understand. I don’t know if that’s because of lack of information. But it would be interesting to know if a lot more foreign residents are using the bus system than used to. Secondly, Frans mentioned about the lack of observing traffic lights. I think it always comes up in the meetings. Yesterday, I was coming down from Namdaemoon, down Taepyong-ro, and the lights were red and an ambulance came through people coming across the pedestrian crossing. There was no change in the behavior of the pedestrians or the cars. The ambulance actually had to push its way through. So, I mean, that suggested to me that there’s not been education about the needs of emergency vehicles to have access. There’s probably an assumption that the driver has the authority to turn on the siren and just wants to get through quickly and this may be a mistrust of their intention. So I suggest some kind of education on that point. Thank you. Robert Gilbert: On the traffic lights, I have evolved the theory over the years about why they are not more carefully observed. I think part of it is that the traffic lights tend to be set on timers. You get a little bit chaos about the red lights, when you go through deserted areas at two or three in the morning. Therefore, pretty soon, you’ll find that you’re driving through the red lights if you don’t see any pedestrians or if don’t see any traffic. I wonder if there’s some plans to upgrade the traffic light system so that they’re more responsive to traffic flows and so that they’ll adjust between day and night and the presence and absence of pedestrians. Frans Hampsink: If you drive through, a camera will put your car on picture and you will get a ticket. I don’t know even in Europe, most cities have cameras, especially at crossings and if you pass at night, at two or three o’clock, they don’t have to change the traffic light in that sense. It’s during the daytime when we see all these violations and I think that is where people could be badly hurt or accidents could occur. What you said about the ambulances, many ambulances and fire engines not getting through the traffic, I have been watching these things and see other people, especially taxies and buses blocking these guys to get through the traffic. I think there should be some education done. Michael Breen: I do think the reason for the lack of respect for the red light is that traffic police, when they are controlling the traffic in situations, don’t control it by turning on the lights manually. They wave people through red lights and that encourages drivers including myself to think that the authority of the police men is more important than the light. When I myself see no reason to wait for the light, I won’t. The other thing is, you mentioned about the buses violating red lights. I assume that the city or the authorities are very easy on bus drivers, because a bus company is a business. These people are serious violators of the traffic laws. I’ve never, in my life here, seen one bus driver stopped. The professional drivers are the worst violators of the regulations. I think that should change. Robert Gilbert: We have time for one more question. Ambassador, did you want to say something? Ambassador of Sudan: Well, I had been stuck in one block for 45 minutes, because the drivers didn’t respect the lights. Seoul is one of the few cities where this is allowed. It’s allowed because police officers allow six or seven cars to go through after the red light is on. Even if they violate the red light and block the intersection. I understand that the metropolitan government is making a very good job and good efforts in reducing traffic problems, but if drivers are not well educated to drive in a city like Seoul, your job is for nothing, because if they block the intersections, nobody can go through. I say this from my experience because I spent 45 minutes between one and another light. Thank you. Young CHOI(Director General of Industry): OK. Mr. Gilbert, all the issues of this meeting will be considered and will be discussed with the central government and police department, especially those concerning transportation and traffic problems. We’ll let you know, as soon as possible, and we’ll make amendments in the problem areas. For the next year’s Town Meeting, all the considerations and recommendations will be reviewed and will be duly reported to you. Robert Gilbert: Thank you, Mr. Choi. That concludes the morning session, it’s not the morning session, the first session. We have some refreshments outside. We would like everybody to come back in about 15 minutes. Thank you very much. (Second Session) Anne Ladouceur(Moderator): Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to begin. Thank you to all of you who have been able to come back. We appreciate the time from your busy schedules that you are taking to come here this afternoon and share your ideas and your views and listen to explanations and presentations from the city of Seoul officials. Some of our members had to leave because of business concerns and we thank them for their contributions to the first half of the 5th Seoul Town Meeting. Just before we begin I’m going to take advantage of the mic for half a second and pass on some remarks we made during the break time. I was asked to raise this and I will do so very quickly on the bus and trash issues for going on the record. There was a comment made on the lack of English on the new route information for the new bus routes and also on the lack of a website giving bus information that used to exist with the old system. So, I pass this on to city officials that in fact people would appreciate if we have these things in English for both residents and for visitors to Seoul. The same with the trash information, somebody said to me that most people would be very happy to use the system that’s in place, but most new arrivals are not aware of it. So that if there is more information publicly available either in newspapers or some place where people would be informed that this system exists, it probably would be used more by new arrivals. And on that, my homework is accomplished, I’ve done my duty, and we will pass on to the second half of the program. The subject of this workshop is the improved medical care for expats. My name is Anne Ladouceur and I’m a member of Foreign Investment Advisory Council, FIAC. I’d like to invite Dr. Park Min Soo, who’s the director of public health to present the SMG’s plan to enhance medical care services for expats. Dr. Park! Dr. Min Soo, Park (Director of Public Health): Good afternoon. It’s a great pleasure for me to talk to you today about the medical care services in Korea and how they are being improved for foreigners. I’ll start my presentation today by providing you with background information about medical institution in Seoul, about the Korean medical service system and about the medical delivery system including health insurance; emergency treatment system and the medical care system for foreigners. In the second part, I’ll mention the problems identified by foreigners regarding the medical services in Korea. And in the third part, I’ll introduce the plan for improving medical services for foreigners. As the capital city of Korea and home to about a fourth of the Korean population, Seoul has magnitude of medical institution available to its citizens. The table shows the medical institutions in detail. In total, there are 62 hospitals in Seoul with 30,516 beds. There are ten general hospitals providing foreign language services including for example, the SNU hospital and the Gangbuk Samsung hospital. SNU means Seoul National University. I’ll now talk about the medical care system in Korea. A variety of medical services are available depending on the seriousness of the person’s illnesses. If a patient wants to be treated at the medical institutions outside his designated medical district, that patient has to present a referral slip issued by a local primary care physician. As is the case in many countries, the medical care delivery system in Korea is divided into three stages. The first one covers primary care facilities and includes outpatient services such as public care center. The second one is secondary medical care facilities and includes in and outpatient services. Usually about 5 or more specialists are employed in such facilities. The third one covers tertiary medical care facilities, mainly for chronic disease patients who require inpatient care and include medical institutions with special facilities and equipment. Most doctors employed by such institutions are specialists. Usually, patients visit a primary institution at the early stage of disease. However, there are exceptions. They include cases of emergency, childbirth, while being on travel and for diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. A patient with a referral slip issued by primary or secondary medical institutions can receive medical care from tertiary medical institutions to which the patient is referred. I’ll now briefly explain the national health insurance system. The purpose of the NIS is to enhance the public’s health and social welfare by providing health insurance benefit for the treatment of diseases and injuries for all citizens. The characteristics of the NIS are mandatory enrollment that health insurance premiums are levied based on the socio-economic situations of the insured and there are mandatory submissions of premiums. The premiums for the health insurance are paid by the policyholders, through government subsidies and with money from the National Health Promotion Fund. The insurance system regulations apply to the insurer, the insured and to medical institutions. There are two types of insurance policies. These include the business insurance plan, which is for employees, and individual insurance plan, which is for the self employed. Potential policyholders for the insurance policy for employees including employers and the employees of a workplace employing one or more employees at any given time. Foreigners employed by such work places are also eligible. The insurance policies for the self-employed are also available for foreign business owners. Applicable candidates include those working in culture & art, in academia, people who are engaging in industrial training, religious workers, corporate investors, those working in the field of trade, management, education and so on. Once a foreigner receives his alien registration card, he’s able to apply for the self-employed insurance. The documents required include alien registration, verification of the purpose of staying in Korea and the certificate of domestic residence and documents verifying income. The medical benefit system is a public support system, which aims to guarantee a certain level of financial assistance for those unable to provide for themselves during the period of their illnesses after childbirth or injury. Those eligible to receive medical benefits are grouped into two categories: The first group includes those who are qualified to receive the National Basic Livelihood Protection Welfare benefits and those unable to work. Those employed at social welfare facilities and those with family members who have contracted a disease that requires at least six months of medical care. The second category includes others benefiting from the National Basic Livelihood Protection System and those suffering from chronic disease. There are two categories of payment of medical fees for those who are receiving medical benefits. In the first category, the National Health Promotion Corporation pays for both in and outpatient medical care and in the second category, the patient pays 15% and the National Health Promotion Corporation pays 85% of the cost. The medical care services that are covered include, for example, diagnosis and examination, treatment, surgery, prescription and therapeutic medical equipment. I’ll now briefly explain the emergency medical care system. The purpose of emergence contact system is to provide swift first aid and subsequent medical treatment thereby preventing or alleviating threats to lives of people. The emergency contact system offers pre-hospital care, hospital transport, hospital treatment and communication system. The emergency reporting system includes three stages. In the first stage, the emergency medical information system is contacted. Then, patient transfer is requested, and then, an emergency medical institution is visited. The following slide shows the type of emergency treatment centers that are available in Seoul. There is the district emergency treatment center, which is the SNU hospital. The special emergency treatment centers include, for example, the Asan Medical Center and the Youngdong Severance Hospital. The regional emergency treatment centers include 24 hospitals such as Gangbuk Samsung medical center. The regional emergency institutions include 26 hospitals such as the Seoul Red Cross Hospital. Now, let’s get back to the medical care system for foreigners. Foreigners who have an employee or self-employed insurance policy qualify for the same benefits as Koreans. Foreigners who do not have employees or self-employed insurance policies will, of course, receive medical care services. However, they will have to cover all the cost by themselves. There exist medical care facilities for foreigners, which already provide more convenient services to foreigners than the local ones. I’ll now mention the problems in medical services identified by foreigners. So, you might be familiar with such problems, as you may have already experienced them yourselves. The biggest barrier to visiting medical institutions is probably the language barrier. It has also been mentioned that there are communication difficulties and delayed connection to the 119 emergency line. Other problems mentioned include long waiting time, lack of cleanliness and hygiene in surgical facilities and insufficient explanations about treatment. Furthermore, doctors often behave inappropriately and foreigners often consider their manners to be poor. We are aware of these problems and trying to address them. This slide shows the suggestions that were made by foreigners to improve the situation. Foreigners want communication problems to be alleviated and English communication of medical staffs to be improved. They want foreigner-only clinics to be established as well as clear standards of operation. They want the burden of high medical cost to be relieved for those not enrolled in the National Health Insurance Plan. We are currently working on the first two suggestions. But, unfortunately, we have not been able to identify the solution to relief of the burden of high medical cost, which is more of national than local issue. I’ll now explain the solution to problems that have been highlighted by foreigners and solutions Seoul is currently working on. In the short term, we are striving to alleviate the language barrier and improve English proficiency of medical staff including the doctors and nurses by implementing English training courses in each medical institution. We are working on improving medical facilities and services for foreigners and existing international clinics. Such international clinics are not separate clinics but they are part of the tertiary medical facilities. Next year, a hundred million Won has been granted to improve the medical facilities and services. Ten international clinics are eligible for financial support. We are currently expanding the collaboration between the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners and international clinics to provide 24hour medical assistance, called the English Medical Referral Service. Furthermore, we are improving rapid transfer and treatment utilizing the three party call system provided by the emergency medical information center. The three-party includes the foreigner patient, the hospital and emergency medical information center. The medium-term plan is to increase the number of medical facilities for foreigners in the area of large foreign population including Itaewon, Hannam-dong, Bangbae-dong and Sungbuk-dong. The goal is to increase the number of foreign medical facilities from 10 to 13 by 2005 and to 17 by 2006. We are also working on resolving the hygiene problems of medical facilities and decreasing the long waiting times. Thank you very much for your attention. Anne Ladouceur: Dr. Park, thank you very much. I’d like to pass the podium over to Ms. Mi Ok, Yoo who is from the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners, who will talk about the Medical Referral Service, that has just been mentioned. Mi Ok, Yoo (Manager of Seoul Help Center for Foreigners): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I’m Mi Ok, Yoo, Manager of Seoul Help Center for Foreigners. I’m pleased to briefly add an introduction to the medical referral service in the presentation of Director Park. This will take around three minutes of your time. As you may know, a major foreign community, FOCUS, has been combined with the Seoul Help Center this year and our medical referral service is one of the main results from our integration of services with FOCUS. The medical referral service, called MRS in short, aims at enhancing medical services for foreigners in Seoul. With this service, we will see the synergy effect in the other services for daily living, which have been provided by the Seoul Help Center and the foreign community. On this slide, I’ll show you how the medical referral service is being operated. Our MRS team currently consists of eight members, who are English-speaking, medically trained professionals. They answer all calls and refer callers to an appropriate medical facility depending on the inquirer’s location and symptoms. Two other members of on shift are on call for 24 hours a day, year round and every call is treated confidentially. This professional medical service is certain to help expatriate feel comfortable when seeking medical attention in the city. Next slide, you will look at the contact details about the MRS which are two mobile telephone numbers and the e-mail address. Our MRS team provides the referrals both on telephone and the Internet for easier access. While our team serves 24 hours a day, we would like to recommend 119 emergency service for emergency situations. Because the 119 can automatically locate the caller, they can quickly react to emergencies. The medical referral service can refer callers to a comprehensive list of facilities covering all areas of medicine. Our team can recommend general, practitioners as well as clinics specializing in each medical part which are located in and around Seoul. Also, they have a list of pharmacies open after hours. To maintain this list of appropriate medical facilities our medical professionals are visiting all the facilities to evaluate the criteria of the English proficiency, hygiene and medical equipment. Finally, I would like to inform you that we are looking for new members for the medical team to maintain our numbers. Please call the MRS contact numbers if you are interested in joining the team. I hope much more foreigners in the city would be aware of this professional medical service and benefit from it. This brings me to the end of my briefing. Thank you for listening. Anne Ladouceur: Ms. Yoo, thank you very much. And a little bit more on the Seoul Help Center for Foreigners. Mr. JW Kim will come and talk to a little bit about the center. Jang Woon, Kim(Director of Seoul Help Center for Foreigners): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! I’m Jang Woon, Kim, Director of Seoul Help Center for Foreigners. Now I’m going to introduce major areas of our services offered for foreigners in Seoul. This should take around 10 minutes of your time. The Seoul Help Center was established in June last year to provide expatriates and foreign visitors with a full range of services for daily living, business and tourism. The objectives we pursue through our services are to improve the quality of life of foreigners in Seoul, to facilitate foreign investment in the city and to make the image of Seoul better. Our role can be divided into four, which are, first, information on the daily living, business and tourism. Second, online job help system for expatriates, third, diversify event programs such as exploring the city and more opportunities for business and fourth, administrative services in visa- related matters and in problem solutions. Now, I’ll start with our services in more detail. Most of inquiries to our center are related to the matters concerning transportation, foreign schools, housing system, medical contact, visa and labor issues and simple directions. We are dealing with any inquiries made by walk-ins, telephone, e-mail and our Internet site. Aside from our general information desk, our English speaking foreign volunteers are working on weekdays three hours in the morning and afternoon each. They are in charge of the English help line to offer more customer-oriented services with higher English proficiency. We also serve foreign business people with information and advice for those who are interested in starting a business or expanding existing business operations in Seoul. This includes the information on investment procedures and incentives for foreign direct investment introduced by not only the Korean central government but also the city government. The resources on the local market trends are another information service for the business side. As Ms. Mi Ok, Yoo has already spoken about this topic, I’ll move on to the next slide. For the visitors looking for information, we keep a variety of books, magazines and newspapers and brochures on the Korean culture, business, tourism and daily life. We also provide PCs for Internet access, which are another advantage for the visitors. One of our information services the publication of guidebooks as well as brochures. For investment, we have produced “Doing business in Seoul”, “Seoul business handbook” and brochures on starting a business, land acquisition, taxation and labor issues. For daily living, we have made small leaflets covering Seoul’s market, bus route, leisure places, communications and medical service. I’ll introduce unique online job help system for foreigners in the city. This system, called JOBS, is operated for both seekers and companies, which are looking for employees. The job seeker can post a resume and the companies with job openings can post the recruiting ad on the site. Depending on the compatibility, both sides can contact individually with each other for further steps. Since June 2003, when the JOBS was launched, around 3900 individuals and companies have registered on this website. Our information desk provides in-person services for this system as well. We are organizing the series of experience Seoul program four times a year. It has given expatriates more opportunities to explore interesting places in the city and to learn something new about Korean culture. Last year, we had three programs including exploring Seoul Animation and Blue House tours. This year’s first program was a tour of Seoul Studio Complex in May, the second was a visit to Seoul Museum of Art in September, the third was the Information Fair in October at the Seoul Plaza and fourth was Blue House tour in November. I can say that experience Seoul events for foreign residents have been quite a new trials covering a variety of cultural, sports, animation, history, film and art, especially including an open orientation for newly moved expatriates. In addition to the series of experience Seoul programs, the Seoul Help Center is organizing meetings, investment conferences such as the annual Seoul Town Meeting, tours to Digital Media City (DMC) which is one of main initiatives of the city government to attract foreign investment. To enhance the immigration services for foreign residents, our center had made endeavors to start visarelated services since last year. The Ministry of Justice recently agreed to the idea of sending visa staff members to our center. The coverage of our visa service would be divided into two. One is the extension of D-8 visa for investors and the spouses and the other is the permission to change other visas to D-8 visa. As we are located in the central business district, where foreign residents in the Gangbuk area can easily access, our new service is expected to solve the problems of congestion of the Seoul Immigration Office and each remote location. Next slide, you’ll look at the Seoul Hot Line service provided by telephone and website. There will be two specific services to enhance the Seoul Hot Line, which are online complaint center and translation service. Up to now, it has functioned to answer the inquiries by providing information. But, there has been assistance from the city government to follow foreigners’ inquiries or requests or complaints. That’s why we plan to expand and enhance current Seoul Hot Line. Once the new system begins, the city government is to be involved in foreigners’ issues applied online. On this slide, you can see our financial support plan for foreign communities’ cultural events. The purpose of this plan is to encourage the foreign community groups in Seoul to present their national culture to Seoul citizens and tourists. Through proper financial assistance to foreign communities’ cultural events, we expect to raise awareness of foreign culture and to improve the understanding and good will between the expatriates and the citizens. This year, seven communities were advantaged by our financial support. This chart shows the walk-ins and online inquiries and participants in various events that we organized. In this chart, you’re looking at the monthly performance of the center from June to November comparing this year to last year. As you can see, during the one and a half years, since the opening of our center, we have seen good result with the year-on-year increase by a significant 60%. In closing, our center is open to all foreigners in the city. Our center is located in the East wing of the city hall. When you pass the city hall building in the direction of Lotte Hotel, you’ll find three story white building on your left where we are located on the ground floor. For contact details, please see the center leaflets we have distributed. That brings me to the end of my speech. Thank you very much for your listening. Anne Ladouceur: Thank you very much, Mr. Kim. I’d like to open the floor now for questions or comments. Time will not permit us to take questions from everyone, but I have been asked that, should you have any follow up questions, or should we not able to get to you today, you can send your questions by e-mail to the help center and the staff person will respond to you as soon as possible. OK. Any questions on any of the presentations? Participant3: Does the city have any plan to, when you open a new foreign school, accommodate the needs of special education children? Anne Ladouceur: OK, we will make a note of the question. I’m afraid there won’t be time to answer each one, but as I have mentioned earlier today, there will be a follow-up to the meeting. Again, we will try to get you answers as promptly as possible. Any other questions on the MRS or medical services? Participant 4: I have a question. It’s not so much about medical referral for people, but medical referral for pets. Is there information available for foreigners to have access to pet referrals? Yes, medical information about veterinarians, or animal hospitals where English is spoken. Anne Ladouceur: OK, we know that they do exist, but I’ll take note. Participant 5(Costa Rican Embassy) : I heard that you have 10 foreign clinics here in Seoul. But concerning emergencies, I would like to know, in case of an emergency, can patients go to an international hospital or Red Cross Hospital even if they don’t hold any insurance policy or international policy, and are the costs for those hospitals lower than private hospitals? Thank you. Anne Ladouceur: I’m just going to ask city officials if there is anyone who wants to answer any of the questions. Dr. Park? Participant(Costa Rican Embassy): One more thing. Just for clarification, what I mean by emergency is, for instance, having a broken bone, or something of that kind. Anne Ladouceur: Right, Dr. Park? Dr. Park (Director of Public Health): OK, I’ll answer. There are 10 hospitals providing foreign language medical services. When you contact the Seoul Help Center, they will refer you to appropriate medical institutions. In emergency cases, you may go to the medial facility of your choie without need of reference from a primary care physician. In those emergency centers, there will be specialists to help you. If necessary, other specialists might be called in. Of course, you can utilize the National Health Insurance. Anne Ladouceur: Thank you, Dr. Park. I think what you are asking about is access to specific kinds of hospitals, like Red Cross or a National Hospital, in case of emergency where one doesn’t have to have the referral slip or have to prove that they have insurance. Is that correct? Participant 5(Costa Rican Embassy): Yes. For instance, if somebody has an accident on the street and has an open wound, and he is a foreigner and doesn’t have any insurance, can he ask to be transferred directly to the Red Cross Hospital? Because usually, Red Cross Hospital costs less, don’t they? Is this the case here, in Korea? Anne Ladouceur: I’m not sure that they can answer you right now, but you’re looking at a situation for a visitor or tourist, for example, it is supposed to be a foreign resident. Is that correct? Participant 5(Costa Rican Embassy): Yes, or new arrivals. Anne Ladouceur: Exactly. Someone who doesn’t have access to the insurance, or to the system. OK. I think that the officials will look into that and then try to provide an answer as soon as they can. Any other question? Participant 6: I’m Dr. Yoo from Itaewon Chiropractic Clinic. I think one issue that all patients complain about is when they go to general Korean hospital and they need a receipt for their insurance from their country, they need it in English, sometimes they need their insurance code, I don’t know if there is an international one, but is there anything going to be done to make the insurance more acceptable for their insurance companies’. Anne Ladouceur: Ok, that’s a good point. Thank you. Any other issues around this? Not seeing any further questions on this, we would like to take a moment to invite any one else, who might have comments, suggestions, ideas about the use of the Seoul Plaza. Anyone? Director of General Affairs: Good afternoon. I’m Director of General Affairs of Seoul Metropolitan Government. Seoul Plaza was opened on May 1st, 2004. Up until now, 6 million residents have visited the place. The plaza was the sight of many cultural events. However, recently, a lot of demonstrations have taken place, which is regretful. On November 13th and 18th, during the National Farmers’ Convention, the lawn was set on fire and the traffic flow was severely inhibited as a result. Therefore, in order to make Seoul Plaza a cultural space, Seoul Metropolitan Government urged people to refrain from conducting violent demonstrations on the plaza. As a preventive step, we hold the Changing of the Guards Ceremony three times a day and plan to hold a lot more events. In fact, it has been difficult to regulate the use of Seoul Plaza due to a lack of sufficient legal framework. However, we will work to strongly promote the place as a cultural space. In this regard, I would like to ask for cooperation from foreign residents here to make Seoul Plaza more citizen-friendly. And somebody asked if there is a way to prevent demonstrations from being held on the plaza. Currently, we are collaborating with the police agency to block approval for any political or other events, except for cultural ones on Seoul Plaza. Thank you. Anne Ladouceur: Thank you. Any comments? Suggestions? Participant 7: On that point, I was at the Seoul Help Center on Wednesday afternoon and there was a very large demonstration and for me to go from the Seoul Help Center to get my bus, was actually quite frightening. I really feel something has to be done to stop this. There were many buses, many policemen, speakers and ambulances and it really wasn’t, particularly, pleasant. Just in front of the Seoul Plaza Hotel, where many people are visiting, and I know our company puts people out there when they come on business. It’s not a very good first impression. So, if possible, if you could do something to limit these demonstrations, it would be much better. Anne Ladouceur: Thank you. Anyone else? Not seeing anymore comments or questions, I would like to thank all of you for coming up this afternoon, and for taking your time out of your busy schedules on a Friday afternoon. For those of you who are attending your first Seoul Town Hall Meeting, the comments you make and suggestions that you put forward will be taken into consideration. We have seen changes implemented over the years as a direct result of suggestions and comments that were made by foreign residents during one of these Town Hall Meetings. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank the Seoul city officials and the Mayor and Seoul city government for again hosting one of these meetings. They are not done in all cities where there are large foreign populations and I am very grateful, in fact, that we have this opportunity to convey to the city our thoughts on a variety of subjects. I’d like to take a couple of minutes for any other topic. Any issue anyone would like to raise before we go? Participant 8 (Lauren Dyers, Asian Relocation Management): I was just wondering if SHC has plans to organize something for foreign children. Because I get a lot of complaints from our clients that there aren’t any organized groups for children. Participant 9: I would like to add to the comment on facilities for children. I feel that there are a lot of parks in Seoul. But, there are no playgrounds for children in those parks. You have the Yongsan Family Park, but there’s no playground, slides or anything like that. Anne Ladouceur: Very good. Thank you. Anything else from anyone else? Participant 10: Thank you. Just one question. In previous years, material from the presentations was posted on Seoul city’s official website. I want to know when the presentation for this meeting will be available on the website. Anne Ladouceur: OK. Do we have an answer for that? Young CHOI( Director General of Industry): I’ll let you know. Anne Ladouceur: OK. You raised a good issue and I think probably you will see something soon. Anyone else? OK. This will be the last question we will take. Participant 11: Hello, can I question ask a in Korean? OK. Thank you. Part of my job includes dealing with foreigners. I’m working in Itaewon. What I’m often told is that when they wait at crosswalks for the light to change, people tend to press the button that is intended for the blind, because they feel that if they press the button the light will change faster. I believe that there should be an English sign notifying them that this button is for the blind. Another point made by foreigners is the police officers near Itaewon are not doing their job properly. There are many cases in which people run traffic lights and they make the streets very dangerous for pedestrians. The third point is that there’s no assistance to help children get off school buses safely. Anne Ladouceur: Thank you very much. I appreciate, once again, your participation in Seoul Town Meeting.