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Daegu Innovation 100+1 Plan completed two years into Hong Joon-pyo administration
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2024-07-08
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100 innovations in all areas of municipal administration (100) + administrative integration of Daegu-Gyeongbuk (1)

 

Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo said, “We are achieving change in Daegu each day through 100 innovations in all areas of municipal administration under the goal of restoring this city’s former glory. Together with the administrative integration of Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do, we have our ‘100+1’ initiative.”

 

<Two Years of Daegu Metropolitan City’s Eighth Civilian Mayoral Administration: Outcomes>

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In celebration of Mayor Hong’s two years in office, Daegu Metropolitan City (DMC) designated 100 innovations that were made in the past two years and changed Daegu for the better. These innovations, combined with the administrative integration of Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do as part of efforts to create a region that is second in significance only to Seoul, form the “Daegu Innovation 100+1” plan.

 

The key elements of Daegu Innovation 100+1 are as follows.

 

1) Expansion of economic territory by opening up railroads and the sky: Future Innovation

 

Construction on Daegu Gyeongbuk New Integrated Airport (DNIA), which is expected to revitalize air transport over the next 50 years, is well underway based on the special ordinance that was enacted in April 2023. Efforts are also underway, as of an MOU signed in March by public and financial institutions, to establish the DNIA as an SPC. A motion has been submitted to the National Assembly for partial amendment of the special ordinance to enhance the DNIA’s profitability.

 

The site of Daegu International Airport (which was previously an Air Force K2 base) will, by incorporating the strengths of Dubai International Airport and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands, be transformed into a global regulation-free zone that includes residential, industrial and commercial areas.

 

A special ordinance for the “Moonlight Railway,” which was proposed in August 2023 by 261 National Assembly members—the largest number of members behind a single motion in Korea’s constitutional history—was enacted in February. The Moonlight Alliance is expected to be a harbinger for a southern economic sphere that is on par with that of the Seoul/Gyeonggi region.

 

The relocation of Daegu’s inner-city air base, one of the city’s most chronic problems, was finally set into play under a “Integrated Military Town” concept. The air base’s former site, based on Gunwi-gun’s merging with Daegu, will be a large economic space that includes, among other infrastructures, a cutting-edge industrial complex, Air City, and Korea’s first small modular reactor (SMR).

 

2) From textile to futuristic industries: Industrial Innovation

 

Daegu is currently implementing an industrial transformation. After three decades of failing to find a replacement for its collapsed textile industry, Daegu is putting into place the foundations for five industries that will lead its future: ABB (AI, blockchain, big data), semiconductor, robotics, UAM, and healthcare.

 

Developmental efforts are being concentrated in Suseong Alpha City, an ABB hub; Korea’s only national robot testbed; and the creation of a non-memory semiconductor industry.

 

Through focused investment and full-fledged policy support in the five new industries, the Hong administration has attracted, within two years, KRW 8.55 trillion in investments—more than double the amount procured over the past decade. A contract has also been signed for Daegu’s second national industrial complex, 14 years after the completion of the first one, on a 1 million-pyeong (approx. 3.3 million square meter) lot.

 

3) Improvement of drinking water problem and irrational practices: Livelihood Innovation

 

DMC is undertaking the Clean Water Highway project to provide clean drinking water for Daegu’s 2.5 million residents, a problem that has been around for three decades, through a solution that addresses the problem at its roots. It was the first metropolitan government to change the mandatory closing day for discount stores to a weekday—a measure that has spread nationwide. Furthermore, DMC founded the Daegu Agricultural & Seafood Distribution Management Corporation to facilitate the relocation of the Agricultural & Seafood Wholesale Market, a long-held hope of locals, and respond to changes in the logistics industry.

 

Seo-gu was designated as an odor control zone to alleviate civilian discomfort caused by foul odors. Daeguro, an everyday service platform that was created in opposition to megaplatforms and the immense capital that they are backed by, is Korea’s only successful case of a local government-built mobile platform.

 

DMC was also the first in Korea to provide all-encompassing free public transportation for seniors. The criteria used to determine which age groups of older citizens are eligible for increased welfare is quickly being adopted by other local governments.

In accordance with DMC’s commitment to responsibility-based emergency healthcare, a comprehensive ambulatory care center was founded within Daegu Medical Center to improve the quality of public healthcare services. DMC also offers diverse welfare policies for children, teens and women alongside proactive support for educational advancement (e.g. designation of districts for trial operation of Special Educational Development Zone, cultivation of International Baccalaureate experts).

 

4) Urban renovation for economic and cultural vitality: Spatial Innovation

 

To transform Daegu, which is located in a basin, into a “waterfront city,” DMC is undertaking the Geumhogang Renaissance project alongside adding greenery to Sincheon Stream by planting a forest.

 

Geumhogang Renaissance, comprised of a two-prong approach (revitalization of cultural tourism at The ARC, creation of a national ecological trail at Geumhogang River), is well underway. Construction of a stream near Dongchon Recreation Area is slated to begin in October. A total of 5,000 trees will be planted along Sincheon Stream, which is especially famous not only in Daegu but across the country for its “Proposal Zone,” by December.

 

A full-scale Renaissance project is also underway for Dongseongno, which is being revamped to include youth-friendly spaces (e.g. Korea’s first Campus Town, busking areas), a vibrant commercial area, and uniquely-designed urban spaces and facilities. The former grounds of Gyeongsangbuk-do Office and Daegu Correctional Facility will be turned into a Special Urban Convergence Zone and multi-purpose cultural space, respectively.

 

Other urban renovation projects include the development of Seodaegu Station, which is making significant headway through a bold revision of implementation techniques; redevelopment of multiple aged residential districts via master plan (first to be announced in Korea); and Daegu Plan 2040, which focuses on creating futuristic urban spaces focused on citizens’ needs.

 

5) Eliminating vested interests and fortifying administrative responsibility: Administrative Innovation

 

To offer administrative services that are reasonable and resonate with citizens, DMC reduced the number of affiliated public organizations from 18 to 11, thereby saving KRW 23.8 billion in annual expenditure. To ensure proactive response to policy changes, DMC expanded the scope of autonomous decision-making for the first time in 32 years.

 

Three measures were taken to eradicate non-transparent hiring practices: utilization of outside experts during interview to ensure hiring based on skills/expertise, elimination of the residence requirement when hiring public servants or employees for public institutions, and launch of Daegu Policy Institute, a research-public sector think tank.

 

Administration was made more responsible through large-scale reform of committees’ tendency to shun responsibility and utilization of contractors. All of these efforts resulted in Daegu ranking first place nationwide in terms of local government transparency within one year of the Hong administration.

 

6) Debt-free and waste-free budget execution: Budget Innovation

 

The Daegu Livestock Wholesale Market, which was losing grasp of its role as a meat supplier and causing billions of won’s worth of wasted tax expenditure on its aging facilities, was closed down 54 years since its founding, bringing an end to decades of vested interests. The site is slated to be used as a train garage for Daegu Metro’s Line 4.

 

The Hong administration is the first civilian administration to plan its budget without having to issue municipal bonds for two consecutive years. Another noteworthy fact is that, despite lack of reliance on debt, DMC has increased welfare expenditure.

 

When Mayor Hong entered office, DMC had the second largest debt in Korea at KRW 2.4 trillion, with over KRW 50 billion spent in interest alone each year. By adjusting DMC’s expenditure system, KRW 200 billion in net debt was repaid early, with the amount saved in interest payments used for livelihood expenditure.

 

DMC’s financial crisis model, which allowed the city to recover the quickest and in an exemplary manner from the record-breaking tax revenue shortage of 2023, has been adopted as a national standard. DMC has significantly improved its fiscal soundness through measures including integration of unnecessary/redundant funds, collecting delinquent taxes, and conducting special audits.

 

7) Daegu into the world: Global Innovation

 

Construction of Daegu Grand Park, which had been on the drawing board for 30 years, began in June. Dalseong Park, which opened its doors in 1970, will be transformed by 2027 into a nature-friendly zoo (pandas will be borrowed from China for the zoo’s opening).

 

A floating, 1,200-seat performance venue will be installed at Suseongmot Pond by 2026 that is capable of staging musicals, classical music concerts, and many other types of events. Palgongsan Mountain, which was elevated to a national park 43 years since its founding, is expected to take shape as a national natural attraction.

 

Daegu’s hosting of the World Masters Athletics Championships 2026 and the elevation of the Daegu International Marathon to exceed the Boston Marathon in both status (WA Gold Label) and prize money has given Daegu more visibility as an international hub of track-and-field events. Daegu has also gained a reputation for hosting two major festivals per year that are sought out by tourists: Fantasia Daegu Festa in spring and fall, and Daegu Chimac Festival.

 

The signing of Friendship City agreements with Bukhara (Uzbekistan) and Johor Bahru (Malaysia) and economic collaborations with Noon, the “Amazon of the Middle East,” and Vietnam’s Trung Nam Group are serving as a jump-off point for corporations and young people in debuting overseas. DMC is also actively involved in exchanges with Chengdu, a Chinese city that is enjoying economic development through its new airport.

 

DMC sent a refugee assistance fund to Ethiopia, a country that sent troops to fight in the Korean War, in honor of the Korean War’s 74th anniversary and to fulfill its responsibility to countries that provided aid to Korea in a time of great need.

 

+1) Becoming Korea’s “second capital:” Daegu-Gyeongbuk administrative integration

 

The administrative integration of Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do is significant in that it is not a physical joining of local governments: rather, it is Korea’s first qualitative merging of two metropolitan governments. It is a fundamental reform of state and local administrative systems that had remained the same for over 30 years that will most likely serve as a model for similar future administrative reorganizations.

 

The Daegu-Gyeongbuk integration will make the region, in terms of land area, twice the size of Gyeonggi-do and 33 times larger than Seoul and the second largest administrative body in Korea. Spurred by the DNIA and Moonlight Railway, which will serve as hubs of economic development, Korea’s new southern economic sphere is expected to be a pillar of Korea alongside Seoul in addition to a globally-competitive megacity.

 

After Mayor Hong and the governor of Gyeongsangbuk-do agreed on the Daegu-Gyeongbuk integration on May 17 and two subsequent working-level meetings, a meeting was held on June 4 at Government Complex Seoul that was attended by Mayor Hong, governor of Gyeongsangbuk-do, Minister of the Interior and Safety, and chairman of the Presidential Committee for Decentralization and Balanced Development. The four participants agreed unanimously to cooperate on integration-related activities based on a plan designed by Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do and, based on consent from the Daegu Metropolitan Council and Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial Council, enacting a Special Ordinance on Administrative Integration of Daegu and Gyeongbuk (tent. title) by December.

 

To facilitate the integration process, DMC launched a dedicated team (Daegu Gyeongbuk Administrative Integration Committee) on June 17. The committee is currently working on drafting the special ordinance and a balanced inter-regional development plan (including development of Daegu’s aging northern districts) and identifying special cases (e.g. economy, industry) that can be of help in planning the administrative integration.

 

Based on a plan of proposing the special ordinance in September, gaining the National Assembly’s support for it by October, and having it passed by the National Assembly in December, efforts are underway so that the first head of the integrated Daegu-Gyeongbuk region can be elected in June 2026.

 

Mayor Hong said, “We worked nonstop for two years to reverse the tide of a declining Daegu. Our efforts have resulted in the completion of 100+1, a plan that will bring a level of change and innovation to southern Korea that has never been seen. I will use the remaining two years of my term as mayor to concentrate even more on innovation so that Daegu can be used as a guide for similar development of the rest of Korea.”


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