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Oh vows to bring policy, organizational changes to Seoul City

Oh Se-hoon, winner of the Seoul mayoral by-election earlier this week, bows to citizens before he enters Seoul City Hall, Thursday, to begin his third term as mayor. Yonhap
Oh Se-hoon, winner of the Seoul mayoral by-election earlier this week, bows to citizens before he enters Seoul City Hall, Thursday, to begin his third term as mayor. Yonhap

New mayor takes office after by-election victory

By Bahk Eun-ji

New Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has been busy from the first day of his term, Thursday, the day after he won the mayoral by-election the previous day.

The former two-term mayor between 2006 and 2011 returned to City Hall after 10 years, and spent the day meeting city officials, learning about pending issues and visiting the Seoul Metropolitan Council and a vaccination center.

Oh began his first official schedule by visiting the Seoul National Cemetery in Dongjak District at 8 a.m. to pay tribute to deceased patriots.

He then went to work at Seoul City Hall around 9 a.m. and was welcomed by city government employees.

"From today, Seoul City will move forward again," Oh told the officials. "Although I have only about one year after winning the by-election, I'll do my best to complement what Seoul lacked, and the changes will be possible through your support."

He then took over city affairs from former acting Mayor Seo Jung-hyup, who had led the city government after former Mayor Park Won-soon killed himself last July amid sexual harassment allegations raised against him.

In particular, Oh made a courtesy visit to Seoul Metropolitan Council Chairman Kim In-ho who was at odds with Oh during the by-election, and called for close cooperation to overcome the pandemic and restore citizens' livelihoods.

At the city council, which reviews major policy issues and budgeting for the capital, 101 out of 109 members belong to the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), and Kim and many other councilors had demanded Oh step down from the candidate position in March, calling him a "failed mayor" from 10 years ago.

"Because my political party is a minority in the council, it is not easy to do anything smoothly without full support from the city council," Oh told Kim.

He is likely to reshuffle senior officials at the city government and affiliated organizations soon, as it is usual for a new mayor to bring in their aides.

Restructuring of the city government is also likely, as he is expected to reverse many of the projects led by his predecessor Park, and departments and organizations dedicated to such projects could be downsized or even abolished.

Newly elected Mayor Oh Se-hoon pays tribute at the National Cemetery in Seoul, Thursday, as his first official activity as mayor following his victory in a by-election the previous day. Yonhap
Newly elected Mayor Oh Se-hoon pays tribute at the National Cemetery in Seoul, Thursday, as his first official activity as mayor following his victory in a by-election the previous day. Yonhap

Oh, who highlighted his experience as former mayor with the campaign slogan, "Skillful from the first day," said the most urgent pending issue is COVID-19 quarantine work and vaccination program management.

Recently the number of daily caseloads nationwide has been surging again, reaching 700 for Wednesday, and daily confirmed cases in Seoul have also exceeded 200.

Oh visited Seoul's first vaccination center for the general public located in the auditorium of Seongdong District Office to encourage medical workers there and check on the operations of the center.

"I decided to visit this vaccination center in the afternoon on my first day of work. We are going to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow morning on how to slow down the spread of the virus," he said.


Bahk Eun-ji ejb@koreatimes.co.kr


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