Kim Gwan-yong, Governor of Gyeongsangbukdo (North Gyeongsang Province), set a record as he was elected as head of a local government for the sixth time through a popular vote. Kim served as head of a local government for 24 years as he was elected as Gumi mayor three times and as governor of Gyeongsangbukdo for three times. His current term would be over in three months so it would be natural for him to be somewhat loose and tired. But Kim was not. Kim seemed to make a lot of efforts to be stricter about himself.
It is time for him to worry about being a lame duck, but there are still many people who want to meet with Kim. In the local election to be held in June 13 this year, nearly all of potential candidates who are aiming for the gubernatorial position of Gyeongsangbukdo want to receive an endorsement from Kim. This means that they want to learn about Kim’s administration philosophies. They believe that many local residents are still trusting and supporting Kim as he served as governor for 12 years.
Kim still has a strong passion to govern the province better. “To secure future growth engine industries and lay the foundation for sustainable development will determine a success or failure of the central government as well as a local government in changes in the domestic and international environments, such as the fourth industrial revolution, a demographic decline and the spread of protectionism.”
This is why Gyeongsangbukdo launched the 4th Industrial Revolution Strategy Committee for the first time as a local government in May last year. The province explained that the province was implementing business plans involving the fourth industrial revolution technology such as big data, AI and the IoT with the vision of "Gyeongsangbukdo Taking Off with Smart Innovation.” BusinessKorea had an interview with Kim about his policies and philosophies.
What areas is Gyeongsangbukdo focusing on in order to foster future new industries?
We are focusing on the bio sector among others. That is to say, we are paying great attention to and very interested in new drug development. This is because we are taking into consideration the growth potential of the world new drug market and are building world-class accelerator infrastructure such as 3rd and 4th generation synchrotron and proton accelerators in Gyeongsangbukdo. This infrastructure will be used to create a new drug development cluster. The Bio-Open Innovation Center (BOIC), which will be home to new drug-related research institutes and companies, is under construction in the province. The vaccine industry is also being fostered by the province. Gyeongsangbukdo succeeded in attracting SK Chemical's Andong factory, Korea's largest vaccine company, a SK plasma factory and the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). The provincial government established an ordinance for nurturing and supporting the vaccine industry for the first time in Korea. We are also actively promoting the new material industry. Carbon fiber has high added value so we are actively considering growing the carbon fiber industry. We are planning to establish a center for the commercialization of carbon molded parts and a support center for carbon composite design analysis in the future.
CLEWNCO, an integrated cosmetic brand of Gyeongsangbukdo, is expanding into the world. How is the business in overseas market?
We opened our second store in Da Nang in Vietnam last year after the first one in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. This year, we are planning to create a K-Beauty boom through market research on Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand. Once the Global Cosmetic Business Center under construction is completed, the center will help grow SMEs and venture businesses by supporting production of cosmetics prototypes and mass production of cosmetics."
You have been preparing for projects for the Sea Era since a long time ago. How is the project now?
With the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in government and the 'New Northern Policy' and being considered as a major national project along with 'New Southern Policy', new momentum was given to development strategy for the East Coast of Gyeongsangbukdo. On February 21, the province declared the start of the sea era with the opening ceremony for a regional headquarters for regions around the East Sea. The regional headquarters will be responsible for promoting Gyeongsangbukdo’s ocean and marine projects while managing such ocean projects as projects for the maritime industry, nuclear power and new and renewable energy and other activities.
First, we are planning to accelerate the creation of a new oceanic industrial belt. On the east coast of Gyeongsangbukdo, huge energy clusters for nuclear power, wind power, and hydrogen fuel cells are being built. The seabed of the East Sea contains a large amount of hydrate called "burning ice" and deep ocean water is also huge in the East Sea. By utilizing these resources, we will lay the groundwork for building an East Sea national resource development cluster by establishing a northern Eurasia resources base, a next generation sea exploration system, and an ocean technology convergence center.
We are also expediting the establishment of logistics bases such as the development of a port complex in the Youngil Bay area of Pohang. In addition, we are planning to formulate the center of the new northern economic region through the construction of the international marine tourism valley, the construction of a pier for international passenger ships, the development of marina harbors and the development of specialized resources on the east coast. Through these projects, the provincial east coast will be developed into a base for advancement into northern regions during the reunification period and a logistics and economic hub between Eurasia and the northern part of Eurasian Continent.
The Gyeongju World Culture Expo goes to various countries. Could you elaborate briefly on it?
The Gyeongju World Culture Expo is a global cultural festival organized by Gyeongsangbukdo to contribute to human development and prosperity through the combination of the Korean culture and the world culture. Since 1998, the expo has been held nine times so far. In particular, having been held in Angkor Wat in Cambodia in 2006 and Istanbul in Turkey in 2013, and the expo went to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam last year, growing into a global cultural festival enjoyed by the world.
Ho Chi Minh City-Gyeongju World Culture Expo focused on "Economic Expo with Culture". As a result, various events such as an economic bazaar, an excellent Korean product exhibition, a Korea-Vietnam business meeting and import and export fair were held. During the event, 164 companies participated and made contracts for US$66 million in exports, resulting in about US$200 million in economic effects. This is what differentiated this year’s expo from previous expos. The expo is evaluated as a cultural support for the 'new southern government policy' which was announced by President Moon Jae-in.
You have had a big interest in and made efforts for the globalization of Korea’s Saemaul (New Community) Movement. What does it stand at now?
The globalization of the Saemaul Movement began in 2005 the movement was introduced to people in Vietnam and Indonesia. Currently, Saemaul model villages are being established in four countries in Asia -- Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia -- and three countries in Africa -- Rwanda, Ethiopia and Senegal. The Saemaul Model Village project, which started in 2010, has so far created 32 villages in 11 countries. In order to create a demonstration village, the Saemaul Leader Overseas Volunteer Group is also dispatched to raise local residents' awareness, environment improvement projects, and customized income increase projects. The focus of Saemaul Undong globalization is on inducing voluntary participation through changes in people's consciousness. Unlike material-oriented foreign aid, which has been done by developed countries, the Saemaeul Movement is “not giving free fish, but teaching them how to catch fish.” This is why its emphasis is on building a Saemaul model village and dispatching overseas volunteers. The Saemaul Movement Research Institute was also established and is now being operated with a view to establishing a hub for spreading the Saemaul Movement to other continents and localizing the Saemaul Movement.
What goes through your mind as your journey as head of local governments is entering the twilight?
There is a Confucius teaching that when you see your junior workers working hard, it will galvanize you into making more efforts so growing. Toegye Lee Hwang, a great master of Confucianism in the Joseon Dynasty, always had a mind to improve himself. I will try my best until my last day in office so that the next governor can further develop and advance Gyeongsangbukdo.