165 of the estimated 175,000 foreign residents in Seoul speak up

160 foreigners attend Seoul town meeting

Published in the Korea Herald on 2007.12.01 (http://koreaherald.co.kr)

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Some 160 foreign residents attended the Seoul town meeting yesterday to discuss schooling for expat children, access to public services, policies for immigrants married to Koreans and cross-cultural programs.

The biannual meeting allowed expats to make suggestions and learn about the city’s plans for nearly three hours from 1:30 p.m. The topics were chosen based on survey results.

“I learned today that the city is planning to expand international schools,” said Jeremy Burks, a director at Dow Corning Korea, who attended the meeting. “As a father of four children, I think the quality of Seoul’s international schools falls behind that of other cities like Shanghai because most of them are heavily religion-based.”

Inquiries on other issues of interest such as medical insurance, national pension, immigration services, banking, websites and parking were also answered by city officials during a session for general issues and questions.

Vice mayor Kim Heung-kwon and a representative of the Foreign Investors Advisory Council of Seoul attended to make opening remarks. City officials also gave a brief follow-up report on the previous town meeting in April.

The number of foreign residents in Seoul was 175,000 last year, up 35 percent from 2005. The municipal government expects the expat population to reach 300,000 or 3 percent of the city’s total population by 2012.

By Kim So-hyun

(sophie@heraldm.com)

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