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Seoul Mayor and Gyeonggi Governor meet for the first time, pledge to cooperate beyond politics

Seoul and Gyeonggi chiefs agree to cooperate on traffic, hold three-way meeting with Incheon to pick alternative landfill location

June 13, 2022 - 15:58 By Shim Woo-hyun
Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (left) of the ruling People Power Party met with Gyeonggi Governor Kim Dong-yeon of the main opposition Democratic Party talk at Oh's office at the Seoul city government, central Seoul, Monday. (Yonhap)

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon of the ruling People Power Party met with Gyeonggi Governor Kim Dong-yeon of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Monday to discuss cooperation between the two regions.

The two leaders of the Greater Seoul area pledged to work together for mutual benefits. Oh and Kim both stressed that their political backgrounds should not matter in dealing with issues related to local residents and introducing policies that can improve quality of life in the area.

Oh requested that Seoul and Gyeonggi Province initiate discussions for a swift introduction of new policies that can minimize inconveniences for the public, particularly those involving the public transportation system.

“There are about 25 million people living in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, and these two regions are closely related,” Oh said before he and Kim started a closed meeting.

According to Oh, some 1.7 million people living in Gyeonggi Province commute to Seoul, and that figure accounts for about 25 percent to 30 percent of Seoul’s economically active population. Oh added the figure provides a common ground where Seoul and Gyeonggi Province should work together, beyond their different political affiliations.

Oh pledged to create new inter-regional buses and increase the number of late-night bus services that run between Seoul and Gyeonggi Province in collaboration with Kim Eun-hye – the People Power Party’s unsuccessful candidate for Gyeonggi governor -- during the local election campaigns.

During his campaign for the local elections earlier this month, Oh also promised early completion of the Great Train Express commuter rail networks and subways.

Another pending issue between Seoul and Gyeonggi Province at the moment includes finding an alternative landfill to take in waste generated from Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province. This would replace Incheon’s Sudokwon Landfill, which has been handling garbage from Seoul and Gyeonggi Province.

Previously, during Park Nam-chun of the Democratic Party‘s mayoral term, Incheon announced that it would scrap its arrangement for Sudokwon Landfill after 2025, when the landfill’s contract expires. The announcement was made as Incheon residents were against taking care of waste not generated in the city. Incheon’s ex-mayor Park said Incheon will build its own landfill, leaving Seoul and Gyeonggi Province to take care of their waste.

But Incheon’s new mayor Yoo Jeong-bok of the People Power Party last week said Incheon would join a four-way meeting with Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and the Ministry of Environment to discuss a potential location for an alternative landfill for both regions, overturning his predecessor’s decision.

Although the landfill issue was not directly mentioned before the meeting between Oh and Kim on Monday, it was hinted that Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon would soon come together to discuss the issue.

Oh first mentioned the need for a three-way meeting between Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon to solve the environmental issue involving waste.

“There are many issues that Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon should work together on and solve,” Kim said Monday, adding he is willing to meet with both Oh and Yoo in the future.

The two leaders met on Monday morning at Oh’s Seoul city government office. Only a short briefing was released, which was followed by a closed meeting. Details of the closed meeting were not disclosed.