Seoul wants to make expats’ lifestyles easierA blueprint to improve life for foreign residents and entrepreneurs in Seoul was announced yesterday by the Seoul city government, including a one-stop help center for expats, a “global business zone” and new Web sites to help foreigners navigate the city more efficiently.
Construction of a “global cluster building” in Seorin-dong, Jongno, will start this May. The building, expected to be completed in June 2012, will include a one-stop help center for foreigners and chamber of commerce offices of various countries. Also, the Seoul Global Center, which offers programs, classes and counseling services for expats, will relocate to the global cluster building.
In mid-May, a “global business help center” will open in COEX, southern Seoul. The center aims to help foreigners with small to medium-sized businesses set up in Korea and will be staffed by four foreign business experts who speak English, Chinese and Japanese.
Last January, 14 additional “multicultural family support centers” opened in Seoul. At present 20 such centers exist in the capital. A Web site (http://mcfamily.seoul.go.kr), designed to provide city information and job vacancies for foreign spouses, will be launched next month in five languages including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, English and Korean.
Also in May, major universities in Seoul, including Yonsei University, will start a test-run of “foreign students’ support desks,” which will provide counseling and information on Korea for foreign students.
Next month will also see around 50 cultural performance teams from 20 different countries perform at the
Mugyo-dong “global street” near Seoul City Hall. Six flea markets for foreigners will be held this year at the Seoul Folk Flea Market in Sinseol-dong.
“This project for a happy Seoul for foreigners is an upgrade of previous foreigner support measures,” said Choi Hang-do, head of the Urban Competitiveness Headquarters at the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
In a Korea Society Opinion Institute survey, 961 foreigners who have lived in Seoul for more than a year gave an average 3.8 points out of a perfect 5 as to their satisfaction with the city as of the end of 2009.
The highest average score was given to Seoul’s transportation system (4.05 points), followed by cultural atmosphere (3.97 points). The lowest grade was given to Seoul’s residential environment (3.52 points).
For this, the Seoul government said that construction of a residence for foreigners, with 178 units, will begin this May in Seocho, southern Seoul. Currently, DMC Ville in Sangam-dong offers premium residency facilities, with 175 units, for foreigners. The new Seocho building is slated to open by November or December.
By Cho Jae-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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