Work on the Seoul Citizen’s Welfare Standards began at the beginning of 2012. The first meeting was held between city officials and some invited specialists in January. They agreed that citizens must participate in the preparation of the standards.
(1) February 2012: Citizen Participation & Launch of the Private-Public Governance Organization
On February 14, 2012, the Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards Promotion Committee was formed with 65 members in five subcommittees. The participant included officials, city councilors, academics, researchers and citizens from a variety of fields like gender equality activism, ‘village’ building campaigns and the protection of the disabled.
On the same day, the City Hall website opened a special space for citizens to present their ideas on the welfare standards.
(2) April 2012: Draft Completion & Citizen Monitoring Group
On April 10, 2012, the standards draft was completed after the work began on February 1, 2012. Citizens were able to express their opinions more actively and officials were able to review the practicality of the projects presented in the document. On April 17, 2012, a citizen monitoring group was launched with 220 citizens including some government officials from district offices. It was named the Seoul Welfare Meari (Echo) Group.
The citizens in the group came from all walks of life were all volunteers.
(3) May 2012: Citizens’ Input on the Draft
In May 2012, there were six ‘Policy Listening Workshops (intended to hear the opinions of the citizens on city policies)’ on the five areas of income, housing, care, health and education. A total of 594 citizens participated in the workshops and made 278 proposals. The draft reflected their input.
(4) August 2012: A 1,000-person Roundtable proving the Possibility of Direct Democracy in Seoul
On August 9, 2012, a total of 1,075 citizens flocked to the Olympic Fencing Stadium in Seoul. They volunteered through the city government website to participate in the meeting. Those who packed the stadium had heated discussions at tables, presented their welfare project ideas and then voted on the priority of various project ideas.
Participants expressed their ideas freely in the form of ‘brainwriting.’ They voted with their individual ARS (automatic response system) with the immediate results showing on a huge screen at the site.
It was an occasion that proved the point that a direct democracy type of decision making, which seemed impossible in a megacity, is possible. Ten key projects were selected for the new welfare standards of the city in 5 categories such as income, housing, care, health and education.
(5) October 2012: The Announcement of the Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards
On October 22, 2012, ‘the Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standards’ were completed. Pointing out that it was a historic moment and a huge turning point in the welfare programs of the city, Mayor Park Won-soon announced the completion of the standards, explaining how the standards were made as well as what the main contents were. The day’s event was held with the participants from the 1,000-person roundtable held in August 2012. It was broadcast live on TV and the Internet. The Seoul City Government published books describing these processes and the content of ‘the Seoul Citizens’ Welfare Standard’, and provided them to major bookstores and libraries.