International Awards Blog

Korean City Improved Economy Through Innovative Management

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 @ 02:25 PM

As a local self-governing body in Gyeonggi-do Province, Yongin in South Korea performs a variety of civil services for its citizens so that they may enjoy a happy life in a convenient, safe, and clean environment. The city’s land area has reached 98% of Seoul, and the city has achieved unprecedented growth in the past 20 years with the population growing four folds and the fiscal scale growing 6.3 folds. Especially, Yongin became the fourth city to have a population exceeding one million as of August 2016 in South Korea. In addition, the city is home to Everland, a theme park, and the Korean Folk Village which play a pivotal role in attracting more than 10 million tourists, both domestic and foreign, to the city.

Yongin City-2.jpgThanks 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 spoke about the effects the Stevie Awards had on Yongin. "The Awards provided an opportunity to internationally promote our innovative achievements and major policies such as zero-debt, prenatal education city, special city for moms, investment attraction, and industrial complex development that Yongin has pursued up until now and to enhance the brand value of the city. In addition, I felt the importance of policy networking along with insight from various perspectives through examples of innovative and creative policies implemented in various countries around the Asia-Pacific region.”

From Debt City to ‘Zero Debt’

The situation at the time when Chan-min Jung was inaugurated as Yongin mayor was comparable to the darkness of the night. The city's finance which boasted as being the best in Korea was disgraced with the title, "the city of debt", while citizens endured severe discomfort due to various projects and services that were stopped due to financial difficulties. All of these problems were not only damaging the image of the city but the shame and distrust public officials and citizens felt were at where highest.

Mayor Jung had to do something even if it had little hope of success. He instilled awareness toward the crisis to constituents within the organization while seeking patience and participation from the citizens. The employees of Yongin City Hall worked hard going as far as to purchasing used goods and forfeiting their salaries. As a result, Yongin City paid back all of its debt amounting to 784.8 billion KRW two years ahead of plan and achieved a state of "zero-debt". We are now on the starting line to leap forward leaving our difficult past behind.

The public officials and citizens of Yongin learned the valuable lesson that they can overcome any difficulties or crises if they unite and work together as one. The story of Yongin was a case which demonstrated that a spark of hope will always appear from somewhere and that it is possible to overcome any difficult situation as long as people do not become discouraged and give up.

Priority in Attracting Businesses and Creating Jobs

According to Mayor Jung, "Research results recently introduced in the media showed a highly probability of small provincial cities disappearing in the next 20 years due to declining populations. Social structural factors such as an aging population and declining fertility rate may play a major role in this, but what we need to pay more attention to is that population transfers between cities are occurring due to combined factors such as urban environment, welfare and jobs. Migration to a city with a lot of job opportunities and a good environment to raise a child would be an irrefutable result. Alongside nationwide solutions, local organizations should also put great effort into improving the quality of life for their citizens through outstanding policies. As local autonomy and decentralization are gradually expanding, local autonomous entities are now entering an era of infinite competition. This is why I am prioritizing business attraction and job creation. This is also the case with the newly inaugurated U.S. President Trump, who is preventing companies from leaving the country and requiring US export companies to expand local factories. It is easy to come across stories from around world about declining cities left behind by companies."

Performance of On-site and Communication-oriented Administration

The words 'on-site' and 'communication' are two things recently being emphasized by the administration. Mayor Jung has a philosophy that the answer to the settlement of pending municipal businesses lies in ‘on-sites’. He emphasizes, "The solution to every problem can be found on-site. People possess the answers to all problems. That is why you must work together with citizens out in the field and seek the answers from them. For this reason, I have emphasized and practiced the "Three Pum Administration", which sells balpum (legs), nunpum (eyes), and guipum (ears) at all times since my inauguration."

Although Yongin had a population 1 million strong, it has never had an industrial complex. Despite its outstanding accessibility and location, it was held up under heavy regulations. However, overcoming this obstacle was merely difficult and not impossible. The efforts of city officials, running around the central government and related organizations, are finally reaping the fruits of its labor with the creation of 23 industrial complexes. The project costs amount to 1.40 trillion won with a total land area of 3.435 million square meters. The direct and indirect corporate investment effect is estimated to be upwards of 4.6 trillion won.

Perhaps, the greatest achievement was that urgent issues in the poorly supported areas have been resolved one by one. Yongin Industrial Complex, the first public industrial complex in Yongin, which has been delayed for more than 10 years, recently changed its name to Yongin Techno Valley. Sales of the real-estate has been successful and the complex is sailing towards completion by the end of 2018. The construction of the first university hospital, something which citizens had longed for a long time, is being resolved through the creation of an integrated high-tech medical industrial complex. Construction has recently resumed and the facility is due for completion by 2020.

Attracting Investment through Regulatory Reform and Sales Administration

In Yongin, the mayor personally holds corporate briefing sessions (Investor Relations, IR), communicates with company executives in face-to-face meetings, and goes anywhere he is needed to resolve all sorts of problems. Through efforts such as these, Yongin was not only able to attract top foreign companies but managed to also keep existing companies that have decided to increase investments within the region rather than transferring elsewhere leading to investments totaling 4.564 trillion KRW.

Based on their diverse efforts and achievements, Yongin City was awarded with the Presidential and Ministerial Award for Excellence in Regulatory Reform among Local Governments and Excellent Institution Award for the installation of certification and licensing departments for two consecutive years in 2015 and 2016. Evident from such achievements, the city is being recognized as a city that is “good for business” and “the best for licensing”.

Yongin is a young city which has rapidly grown over the recent years and still possess the potential for continued growth into the future. Mayor Jung stated, "In the future, we will do our best to implement innovative and creative policies to transform Yongin into an elegant metropolis for our one million residents. We hope you will look forward to seeing Yongin's new beginning and leap forward into a better future with her unique city brands such as ‘Prenatal Education City’, ‘Special City for Moms, 'Safety City' and 'Enterprise City'. 

Topics: Asia-Pacific Business Awards, management awards, non-profit awards, government awards