The Design and Operation of Seoul Citizens’ Hall as a Multipurpose Communication Space with Citizens
Seoul Metropolitan Government

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
1. ◯ High quantitative growth indicators vs. low people’s happiness indicators According to the World Development Indicators released by the World Bank, Korea ranked 15th in the world in 2012 in nominal gross domestic product (GDP) with US $1.1295 trillion. Still, the remarkable national economic growth achieved in just a few decades has not brought much happiness to Koreans. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released the results of its survey of people’s happiness in 156 countries in July 2013. Korea ranked 41st - lower than the ranking of its GDP per capita (34th) - with 6.27 points out of 10, only a bit higher than the world average of 5.158. Korea ranked 68th among 178 countries in the Happy Planet Index released by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) in 2009. Behind the country’s amazing economic growth and magnificent high-rise buildings lie its shameful records: Korea has the highest suicide rate and lowest birth rate among the 30 OECD countries. This proves that the growth-oriented quantitative expansion of a national economy does not always lead to improvements in the quality of people’s lives. ◯ Broken communication between the government and citizens leading to the low level of people’s trust in public institutions Bureaucrats in government offices have always taken the lead in the Korean economy. They have designed and implemented Korea’s various government-initiated development plans. Citizens’ opinions and positions have been ignored. The situation has resulted in structural corruption in the public sector and subsequently some policy failures.. Edelman, one of the world's largest public relations firm, conducts an annual survey on the opinion leaders of 26 countries (who are in the top 25% household income bracket and have received college education or above) to release the Edelman Trust Barometer each year. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, Korean opinion leaders rated the trust in the government at 44%, below the 50% mark In a report released by Hyundai Research Institute in March 2013, Koreans’ confidence in their government (30.2%) remains far below the average for OECD countries (38.9%). Only 31.4% of Koreans favorably rate the country’s overall level of transparency and reliability. ◯ Seoul needed a paradigm shift from “Democracy Plaza” to “Policy Plaza” Korea achieved democratization through people’s fierce fight against authoritarian regimes. The sacred venue was Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall. Citizens staged protest rallies in the plaza and started marches from there. Nonetheless, by 2011, Seoul needed a “policy plaza” instead of a “democracy plaza.” Citizens increasingly desired to voice their opinions on the city government’s policies. Citizens now wanted to participate in decision-making processes. Furthermore, they wanted to present their own ideas. They needed a “policy plaza” where they could communicate with one another freely and with the city government. The solution was to build “Seoul Citizens’ Hall” in New City Hall as a policy plaza completely reserved for citizens.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
◯ Innovative proposal by civic activist-turned-mayor Park Won-soon One of the most renowned civic activists in the country, Mayor Park Won Soon created the Beautiful Foundation, a Korean version of Goodwill Industries, and built Hope Institute, an independent think tank offering practical solutions for various social issues in the country. Upon his inauguration, he declared, “Citizens are the mayor.” He reiterated that citizens are policy designers, not only policy beneficiaries. He has since sought to expand citizens’ participation in the governance of Seoul. Mayor Park accepted civil society’s request for “policy democratization” and “policy plaza.” He decided to “return” part of New City Hall to citizens. ◯ Building a huge communication space in New City Hall, once a symbol of the country’s authoritarian rulers During the Japanese colonial rule (1910~1945), the current City Hall building was the headquarters of Gyeongseong-bu, an icon of exploitation by the Japanese. During the military rule of the country (1961~1987), it was a symbol of oppression and authoritarianism. Then under the leadership of Mayor Park Won Soon Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to build a citizens’ hall in New City Hall as a communication space with the city’s ten million citizens. Currently, Seoul Citizens’ Hall in New City Hall is directly connected to Seoul Plaza, the venue of both street cheering during the 2002 FIFA World Cup and candlelight protests during the previous administration. It is situated on the first and second basement floors of New City Hall with a building area of 8,150 square meters or 9% of the total building space. It is the world’s first city hall to concede such a large space to citizens. It is basically “empty space” citizens can use at will. It is also a “flexible space” that citizens can fill up with their own ideas. The space can be used for multiple purposes such as discussions, exhibits, performances, education, and recreation. Most of the partitions in the hall are movable. It symbolizes the end of the era of authoritarian rule. The hall has become the country’s most iconic space for citizens’ active participation in municipal administration. ◯ Creating a space for political discourse and citizens’ participation in policy formation Citizens can now participate in the city’s policies in various ways. They can propose new ideas, present their views on others’ ideas, or criticize existing policies. A few programs in the hall ensure citizens’ unfettered participation in policy discussions, such as Policy Café where participants discuss the city’s existing policies or offer their own alternatives, Policy Workshop designed to find solutions to citizens’ everyday problems in the city, and Citizen Podium (Speakers’ Corner) where citizens can talk about anything knowing that the city government is paying close attention. The hall is also used for various purposes such as talk concerts, weekend markets, and wedding ceremonies in addition to a number of permanent events like exhibits in several galleries.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
◯ Space devoted to listening to citizens’ opinions Seoul Citizens’ Hall is devoted to “listening” to citizens. Its Korean name “Simincheong” literally means “Listening to Citizens.” It is a paradigm shift. Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to reserve a significant proportion of New City Hall for its citizens. It wanted the citizens to present their ideas to the city government through a number of communication channels in the hall. It also wanted the hall to be run by citizens themselves. One example of the city government’s commitment to “listening” is Speakers’ Corner (Citizen Podium). Citizens can talk about any topic freely. The city government carefully listens to them and acts on their proposals. Another example is the giant ear-shaped sculpture named Yeoboseyo (“Hello” in Korean) installed near the entrance to the hall. The sculpture has a broadcasting system in it. It broadcasts citizens’ remarks inside Citizens’ Hall as a reminder of the purpose of Citizens’ Hall. The city government carefully screens and reflects on citizens’ comments made in various locations throughout the hall. Citizens know that the hall is a wide open channel of communication for them to take part in the city government’s policy making processes. ◯ Citizens’ Hall designed, built, and run by citizens as owner of the city Seoul Citizens’ Hall was designed and built according to citizens’ requests. It is run according to citizens’ wishes. A poll was taken between February and April 2012 about space allocation in the hall. Citizens’ opinions were reflected in the space design of the hall by the Citizens Task Force Team composed of civic activists, space design specialists, and cultural planners which was in charge of the hall’s design. Following the completion of the hall, the Citizens’ Hall Operations Council consisting of 13 members including 11 civilian experts in exhibits, performances, and journalism has been running it. 120 volunteer citizens are working as guides or programming assistants. Citizen visitors help further improve hall operation by posting their opinions on the Citizens’ Hall’s website, its Facebook page, or its Twitter account. ◯ Intriguing and creative communication space open to everyone Public buildings worldwide can hardly reserve so much space (8,150㎡ or 9%) for the public. Seoul Citizens’ Hall is not a rigid space run by bureaucrats. It is a plaza where people talk to neighbors freely while enjoying diverse cultural performances. Citizens’ Hall features more than 20 events and programs for adults and children alike. Facilities include Media Wall composed of 66 monitors playing videos about various aspects of Seoul, Citizens’ Gallery featuring diverse exhibits, and Sound Gallery playing various sounds from the living spaces of the city. The hall stages talk concerts, lectures, fairy tale narration, and hands-on art class for children.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
◯ Deliberations on the layout of New City Hall and new approaches (February 2009 ~ January 2012) When the construction of New City Hall was being planned, the municipal administration at the time wanted to build a PR center including the city planning and city PR departments. When Mayor Park Won-soon was inaugurated, he questioned the building of a PR space in New City Hall. He proposed “returning” a significant proportion of New City Hall to citizens. For four months (October 2011 ~ January 2012), the city government held several meetings. It reviewed examples of domestic and overseas public buildings but could not find a compelling example to follow. ◯ Conducting a poll among citizens (Feb. 2 ~ Apr. 30, 2012) In February 2012, the city government surveyed 613 citizens. The survey results became the basis for public space design in New City Hall. ◯ Final space designed by a Citizen Task Force Team Composed of Professionals (Mar. 5 ~ May 14, 2012) To realize the citizens’ proposals, the city government formed a task force team with relevant professional living in the city. The design proposal prepared by the team was finalized through three workshops. The final idea was to reserve for citizens the entire space on the 1st and 2nd basement floors (8,150㎡) or around 9% of the total space of New City Hall. The 1st basement floor would be used for performances and exhibits, and the 2nd basement floor, for education and discussions. Its name, Seoul Citizens’ Hall, was also determined in the process. Its Korean name, Simincheong literally meaning “Listening to Citizens” indicates the strong commitment of the new city government to listen to citizens. ◯ Developing platforms that could maximize citizens’ participation by considering the characteristics of citizens and the space (May ~ Dec. 2012) The city government believed that “citizens’ participation” in Citizens’ Hall was the best way to use the available space. The hall was designed as flexible space that could accommodate any type of event, exhibit, or performance. The hall has more than 20 programs which take into consideration the diverse types of citizens (passive, active, collective, individualistic) in the city and the characteristics of the space. Policy workshops, talk concerts, a talking bookstore, and vitality concerts are very successful examples meeting the different tastes of citizens. ◯ Enactment of Ordinance on the Operations and Maintenance of Seoul Citizens’ Hall for institutional support (Nov. 1, 2012) On November 1, the ”Ordinance on the Operations and Maintenance of Seoul Citizens’ Hall” was enacted thanks to the city government’s efforts to convince the City Council of the necessity of institutional support to operate the hall effectively and maintain it as a symbol of the city’s efforts to “communicate with citizens.” The city government also secured an institutional basis for the establishment of the Citizens’ Hall Operations Council. ◯ Opening Seoul Citizens’ Hall (January 12, 2013) Seoul Citizens’ Hall opened on January 12, 2013 after over four years of the city’s elaborate preparations. Within nine months, the hall had had one million visitors.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
◯ Citizens actively participating in the design and operations of Seoul Citizens’ Hall It is the citizens that have played the most important role in building what is now Seoul Citizens’ Hall. In the critical survey, they said they wanted “an open communication space they can freely use anytime,” which has since become the main principle for the operation of Citizens’ Hall. Citizens also chose the name of the hall as well as the hall’s BI (Brand Identity). Holding wedding ceremonies at Citizens’ Hall was also a citizen’s idea. Citizens have continued to deliver many other ideas, too, including the installation of additional facilities for the disabled and the improvement of various signboards in the hall. ◯ Civic organizations participating in the design and operation of the hall For six months prior to the opening of Citizens’ Hall, more than 10 civic organizations and social enterprises including the Korean Environment Council and Happy Family participated in preparing programs for Citizens’ Hall together with the task force team. Through more than 80 small and large meetings, over 20 citizen-oriented programs were prepared, including programs designed to raise awareness of the importance of social enterprises advocating fair trade and care for the disabled. Among these programs were Speakers’ Corner, Policy Café, Policy Workshop, Citizens University, and movie screenings. Civil society continues to share their abundant experiences and knowhow on various programs with the city government in the spirit of joint governance for the successful operation of Citizens’ Hall. ◯ Operating the Citizens’ Hall Team in the city government and the involvement of SFAC In May 2011, the city government organized a new organization devoted to preparations for Citizens’ Hall. Along with a task force team composed of volunteer professionals, the organization collected citizens’ opinions, established basic concepts for Citizens’ Hall, and designed its space accordingly. In November 2012, the city government commissioned the operation of Citizens’ Hall to SFAC (Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture), a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting citizens’ cultural activities. The foundation has knowhow on performances, humanities, exhibits, and design. It also has strong ties with the organizations and personnel in those areas. It is fully qualified to run Citizens’ Hall successfully.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
◯ Financial resources: use of the basement floors of New City Hall Seoul Metropolitan Government did not need additional financial resources for Citizens’ Hall. It did not construct an independent building or rent office space. It used the basement floors of New City Hall under construction. Through collaboration with citizens from the initial stage, it was able to shorten the construction period and reduce construction costs because, with the completed design of Citizens’ Hall, the New City Hall building contractor was able to work on the details of the basement floors during the original construction period. Through the adoption of the concept of “a flexible open space to be filled with citizens’ ideas,” Citizens’ Hall did not require many artificial contents, which further saved construction costs for the hall. ◯ Human resources: talent donation by citizens and civic organizations The 12-member Citizens’ Hall Operations Council worked out the space design of Citizens’ Hall. The 15-member Contents Verification Council organized later worked on the design of the space within the hall. They held a total of 22 meetings. The successful space design of the hall is attributable to their hard work. The Citizen Task Force Team worked diligently on the concepts and programs of the hall. It was made up of experts in various fields like construction, design, cultural planning, and art direction. The team members were all volunteers donating their professional knowledge for the successful opening of Citizens’ Hall. More than 10 civic organizations participated in the organization of programs. Seoul Metropolitan Government had more than 80 meetings with the Task Force Team and civic organizations to develop more than 20 citizen-oriented programs. The civic organizations continue to cooperate with the city government for the successful operation of Citizens’ Hall. Following the opening of the hall, the city government established the Citizens’ Hall Operations Council composed of 13 people (11 citizens and 2 city officials). It is responsible for the overall planning and operation of the hall. ◯ Technical resources: systems for on/offline collection of citizens’ thoughts and proposals The city government has disclosed all information related to Citizens’ Hall since the design stage and collected citizens’ opinions through its website. Upon the Hall’s dedication, Citizens’ Hall opened its own website. Now, it uses social media like Twitter and Facebook. Through these mechanisms, Citizens’ Hall responds to citizens’ complaints or proposals immediately. Citizens’ Hall records speeches at Speakers’ Corner and delivers them to the relevant departments of the city government. Actions are taken right away. Citizens’ messages recorded by the symbolic Yeoboseyo (Hello in Korean) sculpture of Citizens’ Hall, are broadcast within Citizens’ Hall. It indicates that Citizens’ Hall exists for communication with citizens.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
◯ Presenting a communication model where citizens are policy owners Seoul Metropolitan Government has created a vast communication space in New City Hall. It has built a platform ensuring citizens’ active participation. It offers citizens several communication mechanisms. Thus, citizens are no longer bystanders. They initiate policies through various policy discussion opportunities in the hall and lead the promotion of those policies. Seoul Metropolitan Government has secured a comprehensive communication model between citizens and the municipal government to discuss the various policies of the metropolis. Citizens present their views on all issues relevant to the city government in Citizens’ Hall through policy discussions, Policy Cafe, policy workshops, Speakers’ Corner, etc. In policy workshops, citizens can use video materials like documentary films in their presentations. ◯ Realizing “sympathetic administration” through citizens’ participation The key concept of Seoul Citizens’ Hall is “listening.” The city government cherishes “processes ensuring citizens’ participation.” Public servants and citizens agree that policy failures can be minimized only when various municipal projects are promoted based on a consensus between the city government and citizens in advance. This new perspective of public servants in the city government is indicated by their use of Citizens’ Hall. In the beginning, they used the hall as an extension of their conference facilities. They held functions such as the appointment of Seoul Welfare Guards in the hall. Later, they launched diverse policy gatherings like the “Seoul Idea EXPO” in the hall in collaboration with civic organizations and ordinary citizens. The departments have also increased their use of the hall to collect citizens’ opinions on diverse policies they are about to launch. Over the past ten months, various departments of the city government have presented more than 160 policy programs for citizens to discuss in the hall. Over 240,000 citizens have expressed their views. ◯ Creating a high-level cultural space presenting citizens’ diverse creations Citizens communicate in diverse ways in Citizens’ Hall. They participate in discussions, lectures, and weekend markets. Culturally, they present diverse performances and exhibits to other citizens in the hall. So far, some spaces within Citizens’ Hall have been rented more than 380 times for various purposes. 23 exhibits have been held with more than 220,000 visitors (until the end of October 2013). In addition, 1,270 concerts and cultural performances have been staged and they have been attended by over 80,000 spectators. Free exhibits and performances are offered to citizens throughout the year, contributing significantly to expanding opportunities for cultural benefits to citizens. Every day, some 5,000 citizens visit Citizens’ Hall. ◯ Collecting citizens’ opinions on/offline Citizens’ Hall collects opinions on its website ( where citizens post their compliments or complaints. More than 300 posts were made from January to October 2013. Actions are taken immediately. Citizens’ Hall uses suggestion boxes in the hall, too. Based on numerous suggestions, the hall has made 65 improvements including installing additional signboards in the hall, reinforcing glass walls, and installing elevators for the disabled.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
◯ Online polls The city government conducted an online poll among 1,100 Seoul Administration Monitors in February 2012. It has continuously collected citizens’ complaints and opinions online through its website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. The results are reflected on the operation of the hall and its programming. ◯ Regular offline surveys on visitors’ satisfaction and complaints Seoul Citizens’ Hall has conducted three offline polls to determine visitors’ satisfaction and complaints about its operation. 354 citizens participated in the first poll (April 2013), 848 citizens in the second (July 2013) and 1,000 citizens in the third (October 2013). The results were reflected in the immediate operation of the hall. 71 improvements have been made by virtue of the mechanism, including assignment of additional receptionists, installation of additional lighting, CCTVs, and signboards, and easing regulations on space rent contracts for facilities in the hall. Citizens’ Hall also collects opinions through its suggestion boxes. ◯ Expert workshops for monitoring and complementary measures The plan for Citizens’ Hall worked out by the Citizen Task Force Team was reviewed at 3 workshops and more than 80 meetings attended by citizens, civic organizations, public officials, Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture, and contractors. Project monitoring was made in the process, and complementary measures were discussed and taken at the gatherings. Some impractical plans were revised, alternative plans were adopted, and design changes were made by contractors accordingly. ◯ Citizens’ Hall Operations Council taking control of the overall operation of the hall The city government organized the Citizens’ Hall Operations Council to ensure that the hall is run by citizens. The citizen-led organization meets once a month and reviews and decides on key issues of the hall. It consists of 13 members including 2 public officials and 11 expert citizens in various fields such as the arts, civic activism, broadcasting, care for the handicapped, and cultural performances.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
◯ Resistance from city government officials Conceding a significant proportion of the space for New City Hall to citizens for the purpose of listening to their voices was not something the officials of Seoul Metropolitan Government could swallow easily. They were opposed to the idea because they feared there would be numerous complaints on a whole range of issues from citizens and the city’s key projects would be seriously hampered. They anticipated a series of interventions in various policies of the city by citizens and civic organizations. It was not easy for officials accustomed to top-down authoritarian rule to agree to give a significant portion of New City Hall to citizens for their involvement in city governance. Such deep-rooted resistance was eventually overcome by the direct engagement of Mayor Park Won-soon, a former civic activist who cherishes “listening” and “communication.” He managed to convince city officials that creating such space in New City Hall would help them greatly, too. Mayor Park stressed that policy failures could be minimized by engaging citizens instead of dismissing them from the earliest stage of project planning. Internal resistance finally melted, thanks to the mayor’s strong leadership and commitment to good administrative principles. ◯ Concerns about citizens’ participation and the success of the initiative For a long time, projects were designed and implemented by governments in Korea. In the past ordinary citizens were not yet well organized for participation in policy reviews and proposals in the country. Their active participation in any initiative could hardly be expected. Such worries were overcome through collaboration with civic organizations and the establishment of joint governance between public and private sectors. Initially, the Citizen Task Force Team collected citizens’ opinions and elicited the cooperation of civic organizations with plenty of experience in engaging citizens in planning and operating various programs. Later, the Citizens’ Hall Operations Council composed of citizen experts in various fields ensured that Citizens’ Hall would be run by citizens. Seoul Metropolitan Government sought citizens’ opinions at the design stage. It believed that citizens’ participation in the operation of Citizens’ Hall could be secured only when they were given chances to engage in the design stage of such a meaningful space for the city. Since the completion of the hall, the city government has continued to collect their opinions on the operation through diverse channels and responded to their feedback immediately, further motivating them to engage in the process.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
◯ Meeting citizens’ demand to participate through various new communication channels Citizens can express their views on various policies and make policy suggestions through numerous policy discussions in Citizens’ Hall. In June 2013, the hall played host to the “Policy Forum on the Revitalization of Poetry in the City.” Four policy directions including creating a poetry-friendly urban environment and 25 individual projects proposed at the forum were adopted by the city government. Citizens can furthermore present their opinions at Speakers’ Corner. Responses are given to the speakers immediately by the relevant departments of the city government. A total of 1,011 citizens had spoken at the corner by the end of September 2013. Out of 120 policy proposals made, 98 were adopted. The introduction of more low-floor buses and the creation of a park in Sinyeong-dong, Jongno-gu are some of the adopted proposals. Various policy discussions and the operation of Speakers’ Corner have helped lay the groundwork for a growing participatory culture in the city. Citizens now lead various policy events of the city administration. Seoul Metropolitan Government has been able to upgrade the quality of its policies and streamline implementation through constant communication with citizens and by borrowing citizens’ collective intelligence. ◯ Raising awareness of global socioeconomic issues and encouraging the spread of successful models of social enterprise. Citizens’ Hall includes stores that exhibit and sell fair trade products and more than 1,600 items from more than 100 small social enterprises run by youths, the disabled, etc. They help raise the public’s awareness of the significance of fair trade and the need to lend policy support to social enterprises. Citizens’ Hall is also a space for wedding ceremonies. Wedding ceremonies held there have drawn keen interest from the media and citizens. They have been touted as a model of modest wedding ceremonies for the country, which is acutely aware of the need to make changes to its ostentatious, wasteful wedding culture. Couples who had wedding ceremonies there say they would recommend the place to others because they were able to design their ceremonies for themselves while saving a great deal of money. The wedding ceremony model will be replicated by district offices throughout the city in 2014. ◯ Rising satisfaction with Citizens’ Hall and citizens’ confidence in municipal administration In the first nine months after its dedication in January 2013, Citizens’ Hall had a total of more than a million visitors or a daily average of 4,400 visitors. The city government conducted a survey on Citizens’ Hall among 1,000 citizens in November 2013. 86.9% expressed satisfaction with the space arrangements and program operations. Those who actively participated in the operation and programs offered in Citizens’ Hall highly rated the current city administration’s overall policies, too. Citizens who enjoy various programs in Citizens’ Hall like the opportunities to express their opinions or make policy proposals; hence their favorable view of the municipal government and its major policies.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
◯ Dismantling the authoritarian administration model The key to the success of Citizens’ Hall was building a communication space that could evolve into a communication channel for citizens and civic organizations. Seoul Metropolitan Government built its Citizens’ Hall inside New City Hall with the “policy plaza” concept. The initiative is very sustainable due to the low financial burden and many positive effects. As citizens’ demand for communication and participation grows, Seoul Citizens’ Hall will be used a lot more over time. The experiences learned from the establishment and operation of Seoul Citizens’ Hall can be shared with other municipal or national governments in developing countries. They need to curtail their authoritarian rule and increase opportunities for citizens’ participation in government at both national and local levels. In that sense, Seoul Citizens’ Hall can serve as a powerful model for breaking down authoritarianism in public agencies worldwide. ◯ Transferability of the initiative to other jurisdictions Seoul’s New City Hall, which has created an innovative communication space, is already recognized widely as a model for other public buildings in the country. A local government does not need to build a new structure but simply rearrange the space in its existing public building. Let citizens express their thoughts and ideas in a basically open space. They will come to the space quite often, which translates into their increased confidence in government. Seoul’s example can be replicated not only in new buildings, but also through the remodeling of existing building space (e.g., PR space) in existing public buildings. Since such buildings are mostly located in the center of any city, the communication space created within can serve as the communication hub of these municipalities. ◯ Usability of the space as a model for private companies Many private companies have a Customer Experience Center. They can communicate with customers and collect and reflect consumers’ opinions on their new products. Such private companies can borrow the experiences of Seoul in space design and the operation of is diverse programs that have succeeded in eliciting citizens’ active participation. ◯ Sustainability proven by media coverage at home and abroad, visits by representatives of other local governments and overseas dignitaries Seoul Citizens’ Hall has been covered by numerous TV stations and daily papers at home and abroad. More than 10 local governments and public institutions have sent delegations to Seoul Citizens’ Hall. Overseas, Citizens’ Hall has been reported on by Voice of America and CNN and by Ming Pao, an influential paper in Hong Kong. Arirang TV, an international English-language network based in Seoul, has also covered the facility extensively. Dignitaries who have visited Citizens’ Hall are Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese politician and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Bruce Crowther, the initiator of Fair Trade. 22 graduate students at the US’s John F. Kennedy School of Government visited Citizens’ Hall and summed up many foreigners’ impressions very well: “Seoul Citizens’ Hall is a place the citizens of Seoul can be proud of.”

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
◯ Solve policy issue through collective intelligence Discussions on the layout of New City Hall began in 2009. Expert council members held numerous strategic and consultation meetings. The results became the basis for further discussions about the basic plan for City Hall. In October 2011, the new municipal administration pledged to return a significant proportion of New City Hall to citizens. For the next four months, serious discussions were held in 6 Expert Council meetings and 3 meetings among Seoul Metropolitan Government’s high-level officials. In February 2012, Mayor Park Won-soon decided to ask citizens. His logic was that City Hall was the citizens’ space, and citizens must decide how to use it. An opinion poll of more than 600 citizens gave the answer. Seoul Citizens’ Hall was designed as they wished. It is operating as they wanted. Citizens have policy solutions. It doesn’t matter if the policy problem is social or economic in nature. Citizens often have the answers. That is the power of collective intelligence. ◯ Listen to communicate Many efforts have been made to boost communication between governments and citizens. Still, no one has been able to give full, complete answers to the questions of where and how. Seoul has now offered its own answer. Seoul Citizens’ Hall provides citizens with a well-designed communication space and elaborately designed programs in New City Hall. The experiences of Seoul Citizens’ Hall will help build complete answers to these questions for others. Since its opening on January 12, 2013, Seoul Citizens’ Hall has been very popular: Citizens, civic organizations, and social enterprises have rented its space 380 times. 23 exhibits for adults and children have been held with over 220,000 visitors; 1,270 performances in Baseurak Hall and many other locations in Citizens’ Hall have been staged with more than 80,000 spectators watching them. Seoul Citizens’ Hall is now recognized as the city’s most famous “communication space.” Every day, about 5,000 visitors come to the hall. Citizens express themselves in the hall through words, songs, dances, and exhibits. They communicate with the city government and their fellow citizens. The city government will ensure that they do so even more in the future. ◯ Reduce the overall policy costs through confidence based on public-private governance A society’s confidence level largely depends on the level of communication between the government and its people. The city government has had plenty of communication with citizens and civil society in the building and operation of Seoul Citizens’ Hall. The trust between them has helped avert administrative waste stemming from misunderstanding and mistrust and this also affects many other projects launched by the city government. In short, the bond between them has also helped prevent the failure of other projects on the table. When a policy fails, its budget expenditures become a total waste. In building and operating Seoul Citizens’ Hall, Seoul Metropolitan Government has learned that policies succeed when public and private sectors join forces, communicate, and work out policies together. That is the way to succeed. That is also the best way to spend tax money most effectively.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Seoul Metropolitan Government
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Jung-wha Lee
Title:   manager of public communications division  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-02-2133-6419 / 82-02-2133-0787
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   110 Sejong-daero Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea
Postal Code:   100-744
City:   Seoul

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