SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s biggest city is increasingly taking on greater prestige.
From November 5 through 8, the urban development organization CITYNET held a general meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, that was attended by city mayors from across Asia. Though hailing from different regions, many of them expressed a common desire to learn from Seoul’s history of development.
CITYNET was founded in 1987 and currently has 138 member cities, organizations and companies. It is one of four organizations in which Seoul has assumed a leadership role, the others being ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability), WeGo and GESF.
Seoul’s impressive record of development in the face of typical urban challenges like traffic congestion and infrastructure dilemmas like sewage and garbage management earned high praise from attendees, among them CITYNET Secretary General Vijay Jagannathan, who went so far as to say, “It’s better to use Seoul as a model than London.”
Cities from developing nations in particular are reportedly reaching out to Seoul for assistance on how to successfully overcome their growing pains. Seodaemun District Head and new member of CITYNET Moon Seok-jin explained that Southwest Asian countries face problems requiring the application of urgent solutions, which is what motivates them to request help from Seoul, a city that was burdened under situations more dire than theirs yet was able to resolve them in a short period of time.
Mayor Park Won-soon described the status that Seoul enjoys amongst its Asian peers in a similar vein. “Seoul went through drastic changes and had to overcome innumerable challenges facing a major urban city,” he remarked.
Since 2013, Seoul has shared urban development frameworks in categories such as electronic government, water and sewage management, and transportation with 39 cities, 10 of them CITYNET members. Big data analysis technology and the public transport card system are aspects of Seoul that are expected to be exported at a later date.
The visit to Sri Lanka is Park’s first as the acting mayor of Seoul, an acknowledgement of the importance of Southeast Asia as a trade partner going forward.
The Colombo CITYNET general meeting saw Seoul’ reelected as the host city of the organization for an additional four years.