▲ “We must find a way to develop a unique model, one which builds on Jeju’s strengths and is respectful of its culture and its people – without sacrificing its natural resources.” Photo courtesy Kim Sang-In
Vice Governor Kim Sang-In has a broad view of Jeju’s future.
“Jeju is changing rapidly, and this change is inevitable,” he expressed, citing the need for flexibility and adaptability.
“It is important that the government develop a vision for the next 10 years in order to minimize any negative side effects of this change.”
Kim admits that he came to Jeju “for the first time in my life” when appointed to the position of vice governor six months ago. Since that time he has put extraordinary effort into understanding Jeju’s culture and the needs of its people.
“The government does not yet have a specific vision for the future,” he continued. “‘Free international city’ is a catch-phrase, and having Singapore or Hong Kong as a role model, along with such tourist islands as the Maldives, might not be the best fit for Jeju.”
“We must find a way to develop a unique model, one which builds on Jeju’s strengths and is respectful of its culture and its people – without sacrificing its natural resources,” he continued.
Kim attributes his multiple experiences living abroad as the primary influence on his global view.
Having resided, studied, and worked in both the UK and France for a total of seven years, he described himself as a “typically traditional Korean male” prior to that time.
“My former style could be rejected by the youth as ‘patriarchal,’” he chuckled. Shifting to a more reflective mood, he expressed sadness that the ‘typical’ behavior of his earlier self included an absorption in work and a lack of regard for his wife at times.
“I have apologized to her many times,” he said, “and thanked her so much for her support of me.”
In his broadened view, Kim refers to the steady stream of government workers who come to his office for approval on any number of matters, expressing a preference for “delegation” and a desire for “more of a flat hierarchy.” In other words, he has become a less traditional man, one who also welcomes friendship with foreigners.
“Jeju’s men seem more like my former self,” he expressed, “more traditional in their thinking. In order for Jeju to become an ‘international city,’ they will need to become more open – to foreigners and to modern ways.” He admitted that this will take time and effort.
“The youth today are very different,” he continued. “And large numbers of retired ‘Boomers’ who spent their careers either on the mainland or abroad are now returning to Jeju, interested in contributing to the development of their homeland – and they too are quite changed.”
When asked about his greatest accomplishment to date, or that which has given him the most personal satisfaction, this 54-year-old man of Buddhist faith was at first hesitant.
“It’s difficult for me to say because each of my experiences has been rewarding, and nothing has ever been my success alone but has involved many people.”
He ultimately cited the designing of the Economic Planning Board in 1994 as one of his most personally satisfying accomplishments. Emerging from a process initiated in 1962 as a five-stage plan under President Park Chung Hee and his Saemaeul (New Villages) Movement, the EPB was ultimately absorbed by the Ministry of Finance.
Kim also referred to the ’07-’08 merger, for which he was responsible, of the Department of Organization and Policy with that of Home Affairs to become what is now known as the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS). He then served as the MOPAS Director General.
There are many other governance-related accomplishments on Kim’s resume. Significant to his broad view for Jeju’s future development is his stint at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) located in Paris, where he served in the Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate. In this role, he set up the OECD Asian Centre for Public Governance in Seoul.
Returning to the theme of Jeju’s future, Kim said, “The rebranding of Jeju is necessary. Jeju is changing and doesn’t have an identifiable international recognition yet. What Jeju is today, and what it has to offer the world, must be more clearly defined.”
When asked about the happiness of Jeju’s people, and the government’s motto, “A Free International City Where the Provincial Citizens are Happy,” he admitted that he didn’t know how the government would measure or implement this goal.
A discussion of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index ensued, including recent attempts at such implementation in Britain, where Kim twice resided. Displaying his Buddhist leanings and open-mindedness, he expressed an interest in the concept and a vow to give it deep contemplation.
A broad view of governance indeed.
Dr. Hilty is a cultural health psychologist.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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