Seoul mayor takes to social media ahead of polls

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Seoul mayor takes to social media ahead of polls

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Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, center, attends the premier of “Bitter, Sweet, Seoul” with renowned film directors Park Chan-wook, left, and Park Chan-kyong on Tuesday at Seoul Cinema. [NEWSIS]

With the local election only four months away, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is seeking to reach out to his constituents using social media.

Calling himself “a social designer,” Park has emphasized communication with voters through the Internet and is active on an array of social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

The mayor, who is running for re-election in the June 4 polls, recently launched his own blog, apparently to establish a wider following among older voters, who might not subscribe to these sites.

Park updates, near daily, a variety of links to news sources that cover his policies, along with more personal posts and back-and-forth dialogues.

His latest stream is focused on the positive reports concerning his initiatives, which include a set of environmentally friendly policies and plans to build ecological theme parks across the city.

But he still continues to listen to citizens’ requests and complaints through his Twitter account, responding to the various posts.

The number of his Twitter followers has reached 770,000 and more than 26,000 people “Like” his Facebook page.

In a country where many believe that politicians don’t listen to their constituents, his engagement on social media appears to appeal to the public, although skeptics point out that having a lot of “online friends” doesn’t necessarily equate to political support.

Mayor Park is now among the top five most popular politicians in terms of the number of people following him, and he has acknowledged the growing clout.

“I now have more than 700,000 followers, and 160,000 people subscribed to my Facebook page,” he said in a statement. “I think social media has become some sort of a media outlet itself.”

He took note of the benefits of using the social media outlets.

“It’s not about one-way communication. Through these mediums, I can learn what matters most to people and what is going on in Seoul in real time,” he said.

Last December, Park hosted a meeting with his online followers to mark the end of 2013.

But the posts on his accounts are not all cheery encouragements.

Park’s followers also visit his blog and KakaoStory, a photo-sharing service affiliated with the nation’s top mobile messenger KakaoTalk.

He lamented on Kakao Story that his critics had recently posted “groundless rumors” about him and launched a campaign to promote etiquette on social media.

“Some people recently flocked to my KakaoStory and posted rumors, accusing me of being pro-North Korea,” he said on the site. “They even said that my son dodged his military service, which is not true.”

Following those remarks, he updated a new post to promote his “Katiquette Campaign,” which encourages Internet users to mind their manners on the Kakao service.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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