Seoul Wins Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize

      July 10, 2018 11:56

      Seoul has won the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize named for the former prime minister of Singapore to reward municipal excellence.

      Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon accepted the prize during a ceremony on Monday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Singapore on behalf of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

      The prize rewarded Seoul's achievement in urban sustainability.

      Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon speaks at a forum in Singapore on Sunday. /Courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Government

      "Many landmark buildings were built in Seoul in the era of development and growth," Park said. "But there were many problems behind the façade of the luxury structures."

      "Seoul doesn't need any more landmark structures because it has mountains dotted all around and a river and streams that flow through it," he added. "We need to rediscover existing landmarks and respect the life of existing communities and their environs."

      The prize was launched by the Singaporean government in 2010 and is presented to a "liveable, vibrant and sustainable" city every two years. This year, Seoul competed with Tokyo, Hamburg, Russia's Kazan and Indonesia's Surabaya.

      The previous four winners were Spain's Bilbao (2010), New York City (2012), Suzhou (2014), and Colombia's Medellin (2016).

      "Seoul once appeared as a city drowning in problems beyond solutions. Amazingly, strong creative leadership, building on deep citizen engagement and data-driven solutions, managed to turn things around," according to nominating committee chairman Kishore Mahbubani.

      "This mega city now leads the way in delivering inclusive, dynamic and forward-looking urban solutions. It is a truly worthy recipient" of the prize.

      Seoullo, an overpass-turned public park, was cited as a leading example of urban revival, as was the restoration of the Cheonggye Stream by former Mayor Lee Myung-bak and the creation of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, an urban redevelopment landmark, by another former mayor, Oh Se-hoon.

      Park received the citation and a 300,000 Singapore-dollar (W250 million) cash prize from Singaporean President Halimah Yacob (US$1=W1,112).

      He said the prize money will be spent on hosting officials from sister cities around the world for observation and training programs.

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