Joan Baron: We want make it sure that we acknowledge you

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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.