Seoul Mayor considers run for South Korean presidency

14th December 2016 Steve Hoare

Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul, says he is gauging the mood of the electorate and his closest advisors before committing to a run for the South Korean presidency.

Park has been considered a potential successor to scandal-hit South Korean president Park Guen-hye for some time but has kept tight-lipped on his own ambitions until now.

In an exclusive and wide-ranging interview, Mayor Park tells Cities Today that following the scandal it is essential to focus on settling the national crisis and the public’s confidence.

The presidency is not achieved by one’s desires but should be a response to a public sentiment,” said Park. “Even before we discuss the matter of my running for the next presidency, I would need to ensure whether the calling of public sentiment and the future vision is towards me. Thus I am seeking opinions of many people currently.”

South Korea’s parliament has voted to impeach the president and if that vote is upheld by the country’s supreme court, an election will follow in 60 days.

The popular mayor has served in his current role since 2011 and the position is often seen as a stepping-stone on the route to the president’s office. However, Park would face stern opposition from the likes of Moon Jae-in–who lost the last presidential race but is favourite for this one– Ban Ki-moon, outgoing UN Secretary-General, Lee Jae-myung, Mayor of Seongnam, and others.

Park however has a good track record. As he explains in the Cities Today interview, his spell as mayor has revolutionised the city into one of the world’s foremost exemplars of the concepts of the sharing city and the circular economy. He has also been elected President of ICLEI, the global network of 1,500 local governments working towards sustainability.

On his watch, the Sharing City Seoul project has progressed from the first stage of sharing public property such as roads and parks into a second stage of sharing information, knowledge and talent.

“The sharing culture has spread into people’s daily lives, providing solutions to multiple urban problems. This is also giving way to a new consumer culture which is our fundamental goal, a collaborative consumption,” said Park.

Seoul is building support systems and policies that create a sharing platform for city administration and operations. The Architectural Guideline of Shared Housing and the Sharing Transportation System by Self-driving Cars are just two examples of Seoul’s initiatives in this area.

The coming months will determine whether he gets the opportunity to bring such progressive policies to the national stage.

To read the full interview with Park, see the next edition of Cities Today magazine due out mid-January 2017.

 

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