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[2018 Local elections] Mayor Park bids for third term with promise of ‘smart city’

Park Won-soon, the incumbent Seoul mayor who is running for his third term, announced his election manifesto Sunday, saying he would make Seoul a “smart city” by boosting artificial intelligence and bio health sectors.

Mayor Park Won-soon (left), Ahn Cheol-soo (middle) and Kim Moon-soo. Yonhap
Mayor Park Won-soon (left), Ahn Cheol-soo (middle) and Kim Moon-soo. Yonhap

Park made the pledge in his manifesto issued ahead of the June 13 local elections, highlighting six strategic sectors that the city hopes to expand, including the internet of things, AI, big data and bio health, while creating more jobs in less affluent neighborhoods to promote “balanced regional development,” according to a press release.

Also included in the manifesto are transportation and economic cooperation projects that would physically connect Seoul and Pyongyang as part of measures to strengthen ties with North Korea.

In particular, Park suggested reviving a now-defunct soccer match, “Gyeongseong-Pyongyang Football,” which was launched in 1929 before the two Koreas were divided, to help foster inter-Korean rapprochement. Gyeongseong is the old name of Seoul.

“Local governments’ roles are important in improving inter-Korea relations as was the case in Germany where the central government, local governments and private sectors worked together (to bring about reunification),” Park said Sunday in an interview with media outlet News1.

The lawyer-turned-civic activist-turned mayor is already the longest serving Seoul mayor. Last month, Park of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea was selected as the party’s candidate to compete in the June elections.

He will be running against former presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor Bareunmirae Party and former Gyeonggi Province Gov. Kim Moon-soo of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

Bareunmirae Party’s mayoral candidate Ahn, who ran for president against Moon last year, vowed to “make Seoul cleaner” by installing air purifiers in kindergartens, day care centers and elementary schools across the city and other public areas including in subways, as part of measures to tackle the worsening air pollution.

Ahn said at the National Assembly last week, “One report links air pollution to nearly 15,000 premature deaths a year in Seoul and (its surrounding) Gyeonggi Province. I promise to fix it, at least in Seoul.”

Kim of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party also announced a set of mayoral pledges last week, which include increasing the number of wireless internet routers at bus stops, subway stations and public parks to 30,000 from the current 10,000.

Kim also vowed to make transportation costs cheaper by introducing season tickets that allow commuters the equivalent of unlimited travel for a set period on Seoul routes.

By Bak Se-hwan (