| 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 (www.seoulcitizenshall.kr) 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.