had the opportunity to visit parts of Europe last March as a member
of the Committee of Mayors, County Governors, and District Chiefs
on a study tour of advanced local autonomous systems. We Could See
witness to well-developed decentralization systems of government.
In Europe, there exist no borders. The people I spoke to all agreed
that their quality of life was enhanced in many ways after unification
of the continent. We saw the amazing synergy effects of European union.
What Seoul represents to Koreans is above and beyond all our hopes,
aspirations, and collective imagination? It is the flagship of our
nation. As a result , however, regional governments are left to
struggle and beg to secure funding that almost always falls below
our needs. Seoul, on the other hand, almost effortlessly receives
more than sufficient levels of funding and support from the central
government. To compete against Seoul’s bargaining power and the
propensity of the central government towards Seoul-centralism, organizations
and groups wishing for balanced national development must stand
together with one voice. Only with joint efforts, can we assert
the influence required to create a new paradigm of local, decentralized
We must begin by eliminating regional borders and reducing regionalism
among our people. This is not an unattainable goal. Walls were built
to be destroyed. We should give life to regional features, bring
to light the similarities between regional cultures, and join forces
to unearth the answers to the important questions that face us.
Starting with small steps, we will quickly move forward.
Jeonju City will be there to remove the first brick in the regional
walls that divide us. We aim to create a regional unity to compete
with the might of our capital. Our regional may or may not ultimately
revolve around Jeonju City. But this is not important. What is important
is the need for us to bring down the walls that divide and conquer
us, and draw out the strength to stand against Seoul’s domination.
This strength will form the seed of the development of Jeonju and
the entire region. In the long run, our efforts in the beginning
stages of breaking down these walls will enhance and develop our
daily lives and ultimately, help us to deliver large-scale projects
and substantial development to the region.
We are presently standing at a significant junction on the road
to balanced national development and national decentralization.
It is the perfect moment – a golden opportunity. We are faced with
our best ever chance to work together to enhance our livelihoods.
Let’s tear down the walls. Let Jeonju take the initiative!