If you’ve spent much time in South Korea, you’ll quickly learn how robust its online culture is. For better or worse, when hot-button political or cultural issues hit the headlines or Internet portals, Korean netizens rally together to make their voices heard (or, in some cases, to become Internet vigilantes).
What may not be so well-known is that in the last few years the national government and local municipalities have stepped up their online accountability and services in a big way. South Korea may be a relatively new democracy, but its e-government is by global standards cutting edge.
▲ A screenshot from the e-People Web site
One such service that I think you might find useful is called e-People (e-people.go.kr), which is overseen by the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (simpan.go.kr) in Seoul. It is an “online portal system that integrates petition, proposal, and policy discussion services operated by 303 governmental organizations including central administrative organizations, local autonomous bodies and public institutions.”
According to the e-People Web site, during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) there was a system to handle government complaints which was a “first step towards giving the people a say in government affairs.”
Driven by our ancestors’ lofty ideals, Sinmoongo [Big Drum] is reborn as “e-People” by integrating all channels of administrative organization to the people to upgrade the whole function of administrative judgment and corruption reporting as well as petition, proposal, and policy discussion services.
e-People, available everywhere in the world, will take the lead to make a new face of Korea by resolving even trivial complaints after listening closely to the voices of the people and positively accepting their creative ideas.
Remarkably, this extends to foreigners as well. There are forms in 10 languages, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Thai. The site, like many Korean sites set up in the 2000s, is unfortunately Microsoft-centric. One must download a .doc form, fill it out, and then re-upload it. However, it seems to work on non-Windows platforms without too many glitches.
There are over 1 million foreigners living in South Korea. It’s about time we take advantage of the services the government provides for all of us who make South Korea a temporary or permanent home. For those interested in reading more about the South Korean government’s immigration policy through 2012, there is an interesting 129-page document at immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM/icc/basicplan.pdf.
A note to our contributors
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