As a local self-governing body belonging to Gyeonggi-do, Yongin City in South Korea carries out diverse civic affairs for the residents of the city to live in a convenient, safe, and clean environment. The land area of Yongin occupies 98% of Seoul, and the city has achieved unprecedented growth in the past 20 years.
The population has grown by four times and city finances have grown 6.3 folds. By August 2016, the city population grew to over one million, the fourth largest among local governments in South Korea. Yongin City also has Everland, a theme park, and Korean Folk Village which plays a pivotal role in attracting more than 10 million tourists each year.
Thanks to the debt repayment and innovative management of the city by Mayor Chan-min Jung, Yongin City received the Grand Stevie Award in the 2017 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards. They also received the Gold Stevie in Award for Innovative Management in Government or Non-Profit. As an organization, Yongin City won Silver Stevie in Award for Excellence in Innovation in Non-Profit or Government and in Award for the Innovative Use of Technology in Customer Service respectively with "Creative City Brand Creation" and "Desired Book Borrowing System".
Mayor Chan-min Jung shared the impact that winning Stevie Awards has had on Yongin City. "The Awards provided an opportunity to publicize innovative government performance and major policies such as zero-debt, prenatal education, special city for Mom, investment attraction, and industrial complex development that Yongin has succeeded in. The Stevie Awards have helped to enhance the brand value of Yongin City. With the innovative and creative policy examples of various Stevie-winners in the Asia-Pacific region, I was able to experience diverse perspectives and networking in relation to government policy."
From Debt City to ‘Zero Debt’
The situation at the time when Chan-min Jung was inaugurated as Yongin mayor was not ideal. The city was nicknamed 'the city of debt', and the citizens suffered extreme discomfort due to various projects and services that were stopped due to financial difficulties. All of this had undermined the image of the city, and the disgust and distrust of the public officials and citizens had reached an extreme.
Mayor Jung knew he had to make changes – anything to give the citizens a little bit of hope. He instilled a sense of crisis within city officials and asked citizens for their patience while he straightened out finances and town projects. The people of Yongin City hall worked hard while purchasing used goods and returning part of their salaries. As a result, Yongin City paid back all of its debt amounting to KRW 784.8 billion, two years earlier than originally planned, and achieved a state of "zero debt."
Mayor Jung said, "We have gained a valuable lesson that we can overcome anything if the public officials and citizens of Yongin unite together as one. We have shown that a spark of hope will appear from somewhere if we do not become discouraged and not give up."
Priority to Attracting Businesses and Creating Jobs
Mayor Jung says, "New research says that small towns in the provinces may disappear after 20 years due to population decline. Social structural factors such as early death and declining fertility rate will be major factors, but what we need to pay more attention to is the movement and merging of cities due to urban environment, welfare, and jobs. Migration to a city with many jobs and a good environment to raise a child is a natural away to attract residents. Along with measures at the national level, self-governing organizations should also make efforts to improve the quality of lives through policies to benefit citizens. As local autonomy and decentralization are gradually expanding, local autonomous entities are now entering an era of infinite competition. This is why I am putting the priority on business attraction and job creation. This is also the case with the newly inaugurated U.S. President Trump, who wants to prevent manufacturing companies and factories from leaving the country and to expand local factories for U.S. exports. The decline of a city where companies are leaving is found around the world."
Performance of ‘On-site’ and ‘Communication’-oriented Administration
One emphasis in the recent administration is the word 'on-site' and 'communication'. Mayor Jung has a philosophy that the answer to the hardships of pending municipal businesses lies in ‘on-sites’. He emphasizes, "The answer to every question lies with the person. Breathe with the citizen in on-sites and find the answer. For this reason, I have emphasized and practiced the "Three-pum Administration", which sells balpum (outings), nunpum (eyes), and guipum (ears) all the time since my inauguration."
Before Mayor Jung, there were no industrial complexes in Yongin with a population of 1 million. Despite its convenient accessibility and superb location, it was under heavy regulation. Overcoming this was difficult but not impossible. Yongin City's efforts have led to the creation of 23 industrial complexes. The business expense amounted to 1.40 trillion won, and the land area reached to 3.435 million square meters. The direct and indirect corporate investment effect is 4.6 trillion won.
It is one of the greatest achievements that urgent issues in poorly supported areas have been resolved, one by one. Yongin Industrial Complex, the first public industrial complex in Yongin City which had been delayed for more than 10 years, recently changed its name to Yongin Techno Valley, finished its successful sale, and is cruising to completion by the end of 2018. The construction of the first university hospital, which was long wanted by citizens, is being resolved through the creation of a medical complex high-tech industrial complex. It is scheduled to be completed by 2020.
Attract Investment through Regulatory Reform and Sales Administration
In Yongin City, the mayor personally holds company briefing sessions (IR), meets with companies to communicate how he can help their reach business goals, and he will go anywhere when deemed necessary to resolve difficulties. This kind of effort has resulted in attracting high-grossing foreign companies, and reversed decisions of Korean companies that entertained plans to move to other cities. This resulted in the expansion of investment in the region, which amounts to total investment of KRW 4.564 trillion.
Based on these diverse efforts and achievements, Yongin City were awarded with the Best Presidential Award, Ministerial Prize for Regulatory Reform in the Local Governments, and Excellence Institution Award for authorization departments for the second consecutive year in 2016. It has also been recognized as a city that is good for business, and is the best city to get a license.
Yongin is young city in Korea with the fastest growth and future growth potential. Mayor Jung says, "In the future, we will do our best to make this 1 million population, metropolitan city a city where citizens are the master. We look forward to seeing Yongin's fresh start and leap forward with the unique urban brands such as Prenatal education city, Mama special city, Safety city, and Enterprise city."
About Mayor Chan-min Jung
Mayor Chan-min Jung has worked as a journalist for about 20 years including Joong Ang Ilbo after graduating from graduate school. He has also worked as a member of Samsung Electronics, Hanwha Life Insurance (Senior Advisor), Senior Research Fellow of Korea Enterprise Management Institute, and Professor of Techno Business School, Kyunghee University. He has also been active as a physical athlete at Yongin High School, Shingal Middle School, President of Alumni Association of Yushin High School, Yongin Giheung-gu Football Association President, Badminton and Taekwondo Association. In addition, he has been expanding his position as a politician, such as the Deputy Chief Spokesman of the Central Party, Chief Spokesman of the Gyeonggi-do Party, and Chairman of Yong-in Eul Party Cooperation Committee. Through the 6th simultaneous national and local elections in 2014, he was inaugurated as the Mayor of Yongin City.
He has published many books such as "The Exiles Faction" (Novel), "Living in a Country Where the Local People Live," and "The Countryside Eating Dreams". He won the Yongin City Culture Prize, the Volunteer Service Award, and the 2013 World Cup Taekwondo Competition. The mayor has a spouse, one son and one daughter.