▲ Governor Woo Keun Min taking the vow of office during his inauguration ceremony on July 1. Photo courtesy Jeju Special Self-Governing Province
The Halla Gymnasium was filled with interested citizens and invited guests on Thursday, July 1, for the inauguration of Governor Woo Keun Min to lead the fifth elected Jeju Special Self-Governing Province. (Prior to the adoption of a direct election system in Korea in 1987, regional and provincial governors were appointed by the central government.) Woo, who is Jeju’s 36th governor, takes the reins for the fifth time, having previously been appointed twice (No. 27 & 28) and elected twice (No. 32 & 33). This is a record not only for Jeju but anywhere in South Korea.
A delegation of indigenous Jeju people now resident in Japan joined the consul-general of Japan to Jeju, Yoden Yukio, in attending the ceremony. Other VIPs included Jeju’s members of the Nation-al Assembly, Kim Jae Yun and Kim Woon Nam; former governor, Kim Tae Hwan; outgoing Jeju and Seogwipo City mayors, Kim Bang Hoon and Park Young Boo; Jeju superintendent of education, Yang Seong Eon; and Jeju National University president, Huh Hyang Jin. They were joined by many more of Jeju’s residents keen to witness the pomp and ceremony as the new governor took his vow of office.
In his inaugural speech, Woo announced July 1 as “the first day of Jeju Export Year” and said he would start the groundwork to achieve exports from the island totaling 1 trillion won. This would be a strategy to overcome economic hardships in the province, he said. “Jeju has great potential export markets,” he said. “Jeju has more than 60 megacities, with individual populations of more than 1 million, within two hours flight time.”
Woo also pledged to encourage Jeju’s production industry, which he said had been undervalued, and identified four new production areas he planned to foster – building leisure boats and components, making leisure sports equipment, “smart grid” projects and utilizing renewable energy sources.
Regarding a controversial matter that has long been simmering on the island and dividing neighbors, friends and family, Woo said he would resolve the conflict over a proposed naval base at Ganjeong by “mediating efficiently.” “I’ll try to come up with a way to satisfy Ganjeong residents, citizens of Jeju and the Ministry of National Defense,” he said.
One of the new governor’s campaign promises was to attract 2 million foreign tourists to Jeju each year. He reiterated this promise in his inaugural speech, stating, “Foreign tourists create more added value than domestic tourists.”
In terms of environmental policy, Woo said he would follow the principle of “preserve first, develop later” alongside three key points - the integration of environment and economy, promoting resident participation and preventing future conflicts.
“I want to promote the natural environment of Jeju as a new global brand,” he said. “Environmental preservation improves the quality of our lives and the environmental industry provides power for new growth.”
The governor made it clear to those present that he needed the help of Jeju’s residents to achieve his goals.
“I really do need all your help to break through the four main crises, which are a crisis of future vision, an economic crisis, a social integration crisis and a public finance crisis,” he said.
“I want to make Jeju a society in which everyone cooperates for the common good. A society filled with kind hearts and dignity.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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