It all begins with decent manners

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It all begins with decent manners

On July, 20, 2010, Icheon in Gyeonggi was named a Unesco Creative City along with Seoul. Since the designation, Icheon has been enhancing the brand value and competitiveness of the city through active exchanges with cities in other countries. The Unesco Creative Cities are world-class cities, and I have visited many of them as a member.

In each visit, I learned lessons and virtues from the people of the Creative Cities. One of them is their excellent manners and culture. They welcome strangers with friendly greetings and are accustomed to offering consideration and concession. It would be nice if Koreans can learn the courtesy and superb sense of public morality.

Korea has established itself not only in economy and diplomacy but also in culture, especially through the Korean Wave. But if we look at how many of us behave in our daily lives, we cannot be entirely proud. Minor driving mistakes often lead to violence, and neighbors get into arguments over noise. Many people lack consideration and care for foreign workers and multicultural families. These are the dark portraits of Korean society lacking in consideration and concession.

Even if Korea becomes an economic power, Koreans don’t deserve to be members of the developed world if we remain at this backward cultural level. If we neglect this undesirable tendency, the universal values of Korean society and national identity will fall. So since last year, I have been promoting a civil movement to bring back the virtue of consideration and concession, respect for neighbors and others, and to enhance public manners. It is called the “True Icheon Citizens’ Happiness Sharing Movement.” The movement’s purpose and objective are not grand or far-fetched.

Local people are growing interested in this fledgling cultural movement, and more people and organizations are joining the initiative. Icheon is gradually changing. More people will have global manners fit for a Unesco Creative City, and we will be happier if we share respect and care.

Just like color paints spread on rice paper to create a beautiful painting, I hope the movement will spread around the nation as a progressive cultural campaign. The whole nation can participate in the “National Citizens’ Happiness Sharing Movement.”

by Cho Byung-don, Mayor of Icheon

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