On March 10 this year, the North Gyeonsang provincial government was reopened after having been relocated from Daegu City to the Andong and Yecheon area.
Kim Kwan-yong, governor of North Gyeonsang Province believed the relocation is not just about having new buildings in a new area, rather, it will contribute to the identity of the residents and their regional unity. North Gyeongsang Province takes up 19.1% of the territory of South Korea. As of the end of 2015, it had a population of 2.749 million.
The following is a recent interview with Kim who has served as the governor of the province since July 1, 2006.
What are the provincial government’s major policy goals for this year?
Our top priority is job creation. We are going to attract as much investment as possible in that decent jobs can be created by enterprises. In this context, we recently set up a division in charge of youth employment.
The new provincial government building and its area have become a new tourist attraction in the region. We are planning to house related organizations, add amenities, organize road networks and so on so that the new town in the region can settle in early. A total of 6.7 trillion won is scheduled to be invested this year for wide-area SOC networks.
At the same time, the provincial government is to launch projects for cultural renaissance and creative economy. The Silk Road Project including the Silk Road International Cultural Forum will be expanded to lead to an increase in local income, job creation, modernization of traditional culture, etc. In addition, we will work on future growth industries by combining the Centers for Creative Economy & Innovation located in the province and Pohang with the manufacturing sector while setting the stage for the growth of seven smart and convergence industries such as titanium, robotics and vaccine.
What are the backgrounds and effects of the relocation of the provincial government?
Daegu City had been separated from North Gyeongsang Province in 1981. However, the provincial government had remained in the city even after the separation, causing the problem of discrepancy between the provincial government and its jurisdiction.
During the election in 2006, I promised to move the provincial government and a large number of voters supported my plan. The relocation plan was fixed in 2008 and the process was completed in eight years. I believe the relocation is not just about having new buildings in a new area. Rather, it will contribute to the identity of the residents and their national unity.
The relocation is expected to result in the creation of new development opportunities in the region, too. The Andong and Yecheon area will join the ranks of Daegu, Gumi and Pohang as a new growth driver of the province. Also, it is predicted to be linked to Sejong City to form an economic development belt while serving as a link for balanced growth between the West Sea and the East Sea and between the metropolitan area and the southern regions. To this end, we will work closely with other local governments in moving ahead with five projects for the Bio Convergence Belt, Agricultural & Bio Science Belt, System Semiconductor Valley, Culture & ICT Convergence Belt and National Sports Industry Valley.
What is the provincial government doing in order to deal with youth unemployment?
Last year, North Gyeongsang Province was picked as the top job creator of the year for the fifth consecutive year and became the South Korean province with the largest FDI inflow for two years in a row.
This year, we are planning to create 25,000 decent jobs in the province. The new division is striving to connect young job seekers with local businesses and the provincial government is taking job placement records into account in evaluating its divisions’ performances. Its campaign for encouraging each business in the region to hire at least one more young job seeker will be further expanded while the ratio of local job seekers employed by public organizations will be raised by 12 percentage points to 30%. Programs for overseas employment promotion and the growth of small firms are on the anvil, too. Small and medium enterprises account for 87% of regional employment and we are well aware that their growth will lead to job creation and export growth.
The province successfully played host to Silk Road Gyeongju 2015 last year. What is the province’s major cultural policy for this year?
North Gyeongsang Province is home to the beautiful cultural treasures of ancient Gaya, Shilla and Joseon. 20% of South Korea’s national cultural properties and three world cultural heritages are located in it along with one-fifth of the country’s old houses.
We are currently restoring royal palaces of Shilla and the Heritage of the Three States while compiling the history of Shilla to shed a new light on the brilliant culture of the dynasty. At the same time, we are continuing with the Silk Road Project while making a preparation for a cultural exchange fair in Vietnam in 2017. The 21st Century Human Value Forum will be held in Andong in the near future and the Great Gaya cultural area in Goryeong and Sungju will be restored for world cultural heritage registration. Suwoonjabbang and Eumshikdamibang, which contain traditional food recipes, will be modernized for the globalization of Korean food.
What is the progress of the globalization of Saemaul Movement?
The idea of the project is to share South Korea’s experience of economic development with the world in order to help eradicate poverty. It has clear principles, that is, eradicating poverty by helping less-developed countries stand on their feet.
I have met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of various international organizations many times, sharing the same purposes and principles. At present, we are turning the project into an international cooperation model for sustainable growth with the UN. A total of 30 villages in 11 African and Asian countries have adopted the movement and the number is to be increased to 42 in 15 this year.
Saemaul Movement Centers are being built in continents for global networking, too. That for Asia, which is located in Indonesia, was opened in September last year and that for West Africa was opened two months later in Senegal. More of them will be opened in East Africa this year and Latin America next year. We will continue to strive with the UN, OECD and the like so the Saemaul Movement can be further expanded as a benchmark model for global poverty eradication.