Seoul Mayor: “How to be a Hub of Finance”

November 21st, 2008 · Economy and Worklife, Politics · 8 comments

Hizzoner Oh Se-hun is the latest Korean politician who figures he knows what foreigners want when they go looking for a hub of finance.

“Infrastructure-building is important for financial companies, but more important than anything is to create a good living environment for foreigners doing business. We are focusing on creating an enjoyable cultural and linguistic environment for high-level, white-collar financial workers.”

Mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hun (pictured) spoke in an interview on the 12th at the Seoul International Finance Conference, announcing his plan to make Seoul a “Global Finance Hub”.

The first step to creating a financial hub is “creating an environment where global businessmen can live, with hospitals and foreign schools. The city has initiated a plan to make Seoul a Global Zone for business. 15 areas including Yeoksam-dong and east Ichon-dong will become English-speaking districts, where one-stop English services will be provided to businesses and residents.” The city has presented to foreign residents plans to turn spontaneously-generated foreign neighborhoods, such as the French area of Seoraemaul and the Italian area of Teoksam-dong, into those Global Zones.

Mayor Oh added, “if you look at how the chaotic financial market in the United States has affected the economic situations of other countries, you realize how even more financial businesses are now. Right now the entire world is confronted by serious challenges, but after the initial changes take effect the financial market will be re-organized.” The city recently began putting together various plans to make Yeouido a “special financial region” by establishing an international finance center and specialized training programs operated by property management experts.


  • Um, wrong again. “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t work in the world of finance. “Show me the money” does. Sure, favorable living conditions are good, but most businessmen will endure some hardship if there’s money to be made. A Global Zone means nothing if Korea doesn’t improve business climate for FDI. Moreover, creating foreign neighborhoods would further reduce interaction between Koreans and foreigners when increased interaction is required.

    Anonymous · November 21st, 2008 at 4:17 AM

  • The Italian area? Where the heck is Teoksam dong anyway? What nonsense.

    Bob · November 21st, 2008 at 10:46 AM

  • English villages and schools for foreigners. Yawn. Oh, and special taxis that treat foreigners like lepers. Yeeah.

    How about letting me use the Internet without a Korean citizen’s number? Or a media that is positively hostile to foreign bodies and the idea that making a profit in Korea is anything but a crime against the Korean people?

    Because if it’s just English-friendly service people and some schools, I say go to another Asian country that does it better.

    Simply another case of Korea wanting to be a hub just because it says it wants to be a hub, not by actually doing anything substantial to welcome foreign people or ideas.

    In the end, Korea hasn’t finished its internal conversation about what it wants and why. It essentially does NOT want foreigners here, except to teach English or give Korean companies capital.

    That’s IT.

    Foreign ideas and even people are not welcome unless one of those two conditions are being met. Otherwise, foreigner people and ideas are constantly vilified in the media, and are seen as even more suspiciously than ever before.

    Actions speak louder than words, and that’s the pattern Korea has showed in recent years. Xenophobia and increasingly rigid and racist thinking about foreigners.

    Actually, it was better, in some ways, back in the 80’s and 90’s. At least ideas about foreigners weren’t starting to be set in stone, and even if there was some “ism” — individuals weren’t being held as somehow responsible for their country, or the victims of verbal and physical harassment.

    The Metropolitician · November 21st, 2008 at 12:44 PM

  • I know there is a lot of stuff in my own backyard about finances and stuff, but it doesn’t help that every other week in newspapers there are stories about someone being under investigation for stock price fixing scams in Korea. Or that the president of the country was under investigation for and is on tape, talking about how he started a defunct bank that lost all of its money. Those things don’t help. Oh yeah, and lonestar.

    fred · November 21st, 2008 at 4:13 PM

  • The first step to creating a financial hub is

    … not arresting people who came here to make money at your request?

    William G · November 21st, 2008 at 4:43 PM

  • Yes, the money! And yes services that work for foreigners, too!

    And blue stilton. Mmm, pungent. And 7000 won bottles of wine that aren’t sold for 27000 won.

    I urge the president of Hanwha to redeem himself by start beating the appropriate individuals until all our wishes come true.

    seouldout · November 22nd, 2008 at 4:39 AM

  • […] as part of Mayor Oh Se-hun’s plan to attract foreign businessmen and women by establishing “Global Zone” neighborhoods with extra language services, the city will soon roll out Japanese, Chinese, and French-language […]

    Korea Beat › Seoul Begins “Global Zone” Plan for Foreign Business · December 9th, 2008 at 11:04 AM

  • […] as part of Mayor Oh Se-hun’s plan to attract foreign businessmen and women by establishing “Global Zone” neighborhoods with extra language services, the city will soon roll out Japanese, Chinese, and French-language […]

    Seoul Begins “Global Zone” Plan for Foreign Business | KoreaBeat · March 10th, 2013 at 7:33 PM

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