SEOUL, May 26 (Korea Bizewire) — A petition has been filed via South Korea’s official online petition site to request the mayor’s dismissal and ban the city of Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province from further providing quarantine goods to its Japanese sister and friendship cities.
“Gyeongju Mayor Joo Nak-young, who arbitrarily provided quarantine goods to Japan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, should step down from his post,” said a netizen who identified himself as a self-employed Gyeongju citizen on Friday on the national petition page of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
His position is that the mayor’s arbitrary administration is causing criticism for all citizens, and some South Koreans are even talking about a boycott against Gyeongju, a popular tourism destination.
About 82,000 people had signed the petition as of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. If more than 200,000 people sign the petition within 30 days, the presidential office must issue an official response.
However, some point out that it is inappropriate for Cheong Wa Dae to intervene because Joo was elected democratically in local elections.
On the same day, a petition was also posted saying, “Please issue an administrative order to prevent the local government from arbitrarily transferring the tax-funded quarantine goods out of the country.”
About 17,700 people had signed this petition as of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.
On Thursday, Gyeongju said it had sent 1,200 sets of protective gear and 1,000 protective eyeglasses by air to its sister city of Nara, Japan, and Kyoto, an exchange city.
By the end of this month, the city had planned to provide 500 sets of protective clothing and 500 pairs of protective glasses each to three cities – Obama, a sister city, as well as Usa and Nikko, friendship cities.
When the news was reported, some Internet users posted comments criticizing the city, saying, “If we have money left over, we should spend it on citizens.”
In response, Joo said on social media that the city’s actions were a humanitarian gesture based on reciprocity, adding, “We earnestly appeal that what we need is not unconditional anti-Japanese sentiment but future-oriented approach.”
The city said Monday that it has decided to suspend the aid destined for the three sister cities.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)