Song Young-gil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Song Young-gil
60th Anniversary of the Incheon Landing-15SEP2010-Photo by SSG Nicholas Salcido-66.jpg
34th Mayor of Incheon
Personal details
Born March 21, 1962
Goheung, Jeollanam-do, South Korea
Political party United New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Nam Young-sin(1 son and 1 daughter)
Alma mater Yonsei University
Religion Roman Catholicism

Song Young-gil(宋永吉, born 21 March 1963) is a South Korean politician and the 5th popularly elected Mayor of Incheon. Prior to serving as mayor, he was a democratic movement student activist and a member of the Korean National Assembly for three terms. He is a practicing Catholic.




  • 1981.2 - Graduated from Dae-Dong High School
  • 1988.2 - BA in Business Administration, Yonsei University
  • 2000 - Completed Global Top Leader Course, Yonsei Graduate School of International Studies
  • 2000 - Completed National Policy Course, Seoul Graduate School of Public Administration
(thesis: Problems and solutions in the legislative process of the National Assembly)
  • 2005.2 - BA in Chinese Language & Literature, Korea National Open University
  • 2009 - Completed Global Green Leadership Course, Korea University
  • Present - Japanese Language & Literature, Korea National Open University


  • 1984 - President of the Student Association, Yonsei University
  • 1985 - Welder at Daewoo Motor, Incheon
  • 1991 - Executive Secretary of Korea Tax Union, Incheon
  • 1994 - Passed the 36th Korean National Bar Exam
  • 1997 - Completed training from Judicial Research & Training Institute Human rights lawyer for laborers
  • 2000~2004 - Member of the 16th Korean National Assembly
  • 2000~2002 - Member of Legislation & Judiciary Committee, National Assembly
  • 2002~2004 - Member of Finance & Economy Committee, National Assembly
  • 2004~2008 - Member of the 17th National Assembly (re-elected)
Chairman of the Korean-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Council’s 21st Century Committee
Chairman of the Korea-France Parliaments’ Friendship Association
  • 2004 - Secretary of Special Committee on the Korean Killed by Terrorists in Iraq
  • 2004~2005 - Secretary of Special Committee on Promotion of Relations between South and North Korea
  • 2004~2006 - Secretary of Finance & Economy Committee, National Assembly
  • 2005~2007 - Vice Chair of Committee on Policy, Uri Party
  • 2006~2007 - Chairman of Special Committee on Korea-US FTA, Uri Party
Member of Special Committee on Hosting Asian Games Incheon 2014, National Assembly
  • 2006~2008 - Secretary of Special Committee on Korea-US FTA Ratification, National Assembly
  • 2007 - Secretary-General of Uri Party
  • 2007~2008 - Chairman of the United New Democratic Party’s Incheon Division
  • 2007~2010 - Uri Party Co-Chairman of the Market Economy & Social Safety Net Forum
  • 2008~2010 - Member of the 18th Korean National Assembly (third term)
Member of Committee on Health, Welfare and Family, National Assembly
Member of Committee on Information, National Assembly
Supreme Council Member of the Democratic Party
Head of Reform & Future, a group of young reform-minded lawmakers, Democratic Party
  • 2009~2010 - Member of Special Committee on GM Daewoo Recovery
  • 2010 - Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City

Personal history[edit]

Song, Young-gil was born in Goheung, South Jeolla Province in 1963 and experienced the Gwangju Democratization Movement when he was in Dae-Dong High School. He became the first ever directly elected president of Yonsei University's student council. While he was the president of the student council, Song participated in the democratic movement with students from other universities. In 1985, Song was sent to prison for one-and-a-half years for violating the Law on Assembly and Demonstration. Following his release, Song worked as a laborer, including time as a welder for Daewoo Motor, and as a taxi driver for 7 years. At the age of 30, he took the National Bar Examination to challenge human rights violations and improve unfair treatment of the underprivileged. After passing the exam, he became an active human rights lawyer working alongside the weak and the poor. In 1999, in order to further help those in need, he ran in the 1999 by-elections, but lost. He was later elected as a National Assemblyman in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 general elections. As a lawmaker, he has proven his firm vision and affection for the nation through his activities as a member of Special Committees on the Historical Distortion of Japanese Textbooks, Against the Iraq War, the Korea-US FTA, and KIKO. He was also a member of the Legislation & Judiciary Committee and the Finance & Economy Committee. When he was member of the National Assembly’s Committee on Health, Welfare and Information and a Supreme Council Member of the Democratic Party, he ran in the Incheon mayoral election and was elected Mayor on June 2, 2010. [2]


Early life[edit]

Song, Young-gil was born in Goheung, South Jeolla Province, the fourth son of a poor civil servant. He grew up in a rural area and was inspired by nature. In May 1980 when he was a senior high school student, he witnessed the Gwangju Democratization Movement. Seeing the deaths of innocent citizens with his own eyes marked a turning point in his life. After entering Yonsei University to study business management in 1981, he joined the anti-dictatorship movement without any hesitation. In 1984, he succeeded in removing the government-controlled student body and reinstated the student council. He subsequently became the first ever directly elected president of the student council and thereafter led the student democratization movement. He was jailed as a result. In 1988, he was recognized for his contribution to democratization and had his rights reinstated.

Labor movement[edit]

After release from jail in 1985, Song moved to Incheon to start life as a laborer. He became a welder at the Daewoo Motor factory in Incheon. He also worked in watch, glove, and furniture factories for two years to experience the hardships of laborers. In 1987 with the support of Germany’s human rights foundation ‘Bread for the World’ and Kim, Dae-joong, Kim, Young-sam and other politicians, Song established ‘Christian Public Education Research Institutes’ in Bupyeong, Incheon. Song conducted legal counseling for human rights violations, education on labor unions, and provided legal support. While working as a taxi driver, he democratized the Taxi Labor Union and became the first Secretary-General of the National Taxi Trade Union, Incheon Division in 1991. He dedicated himself in promoting the rights of transportation laborers.

Human rights lawyer[edit]

Song realized the reality that laborers were treated badly and that their human rights were violated, and he sought to help them. After passing the National Bar Examination in 1994, he went to Incheon to keep the promise he had made to his colleagues. He worked hard as a human rights lawyer. For the poor workers, he provided 500 free legal services. Song proved the innocence of workers who were falsely charged and won compensation for street vendors who had been unjustly killed. Although he was poor, he felt rewarded because he was able to help colleagues who were with him during those difficult times.

Political career[edit]

The more Song became active as a human rights lawyer, the more he wanted to improve the legal systems and institutions for the underprivileged. After much thought, he ran in the 1999 by-election to help people in need but lost because the general public was disenchanted by politics at the time. A day after the defeat, Song climbed up a mountain early in the morning to absorb the defeat and reflect on the opinions of the voters. It is said that a period of wandering and defeat matures the soul, and Song acknowledges this was the case during this period of self-reflection. Shortly afterwards, Song began his career as a National Assemblyman in 2000 with a new determination to serve in the interests of the general public.

Human rights activities[edit]

Based on his experience as a lawyer, Song applied to work for the Legislation & Judiciary Committee to take care of bills that are closely related to the people’s livelihood and human rights. Years of experience as a labor movement activist and human rights lawyer were the inspiration for his parliamentary activities and made him more interested in human rights and democracy. As a part of such efforts, Song led a National assembly delegation which attended a Human Rights and Parliamentary Conference for the five Northeast Asian nations which was held in Mongolia. At the conference, he made a speech about the human rights situation in Korea and proposed legislation on anti-humanitarian crimes. As a member of the Legislation & Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly, Song played a crucial role in creating a law on the National Human Rights Commission. Song also assumed the role of Chairman of the Democratic Party’s Commission on the Yong-san Tragedy to negotiate with the government and Seoul City over much delayed compensation and funeral issues.

Correcting distorted history[edit]

Events during the Japanese colonization of Korea have been thorny issues for decades, including the issue of compensation for Korean comfort women used by the Japanese army, the distorted history which appears in Japanese textbooks, and the name and territorial rights over the islet of Dokdo. Japan has distorted its history textbooks and made reckless remarks on Dokdo without an official apology to the Korean comfort women who suffered enormous physical and psychological pain. In response to this, Song proposed a resolution on the distortion of Japanese history books and the elimination of vestiges of the Japanese colonial period with other lawmakers, calling for immediate action by the Korean government. In 2001, through the activities of a special committee, Song sent CDs containing information on Japan’s invasion, comfort women and the distortion of Japanese history books to 600 overseas institutions, demanding Japan’s apology and asking for the support of other nations. In addition to calling for Japan’s apology, Song attended the Joint Conference of the Korea-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Council and proposed a statement which sought ways for Korea and Japan to cooperate in diverse areas as new partners. As such, Song has underscored a more accurate perception of history and contributed to a future-oriented partnership.[3]

Anti-Iraq War and peace[edit]

In 2003, the Bush administration invaded Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction without legitimate reason. All people of conscience opposed the war and demanded peace. For Korea, which is faced with the nuclear weapons development of North Korea, the US invasion of Iraq was not something that they could ignore. Amid the government’s lukewarm attitude due to the Korea-US alliance, Song and other lawmakers agreed that they needed to take action as lawmakers. Starting with an understanding on the Iraq situation, they drafted an anti-war statement and resolution urging others to join. After that, they formed an Iraq Fact Finding Team led by Song to visit Iraq in order to possibly find a peaceful resolution through the extension of UN weapons inspectors and promote Korean lawmakers’ support for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq War to the world.[citation needed]

The lawmakers met the Iraq Congress President Hammadi and Chairman Kubaisai of the Diplomatic Commission of the Iraq Congress to express their opinion that Iraq could avoid the war by complying with UN regulations which would increase its credibility among international society. They held a press conference to announce their statement against the US attack on Iraq and their message supporting peace. Song also met NGO groups to offer unsparing encouragement and support for their activities. Since then, Song has continued his efforts for peace including sending messages of peace to the Pope and Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa. As the secretary of the Special Committee on the Korean Killed by Terrorists in Iraq, he visited Iraq again and urged the world to act to prevent war and bring peace where justice and freedom would prevail.

Support for Myanmar's democratization movement[edit]

Song has been well aware of the dismal situation in Myanmar where democracy has been dampened by military juntas and human rights have been violated. He had experienced a similar situation during the Gwangju Democratic Movement when he was a student, which allowed him to understand the activities of the Korean branch of the Myanmar Democratization Alliance. He thought that there should be keen interest in and support for Myanmar from the whole world as well as Korea, and has cooperated with it since 2003. In 2007, he and 13 lawmakers who were dedicated to the democratization of Korea during the dictatorship in the 1980s jointly proposed a resolution that supported the democratization of Myanmar and donated money that had been raised to the Korean branch of the Myanmar Democratization Alliance.[4] In October 2008, they announced a resolution which called for the release of Aungsan Suchi from house arrest and expressed support for the Myanmare people who continued to struggle against the junta. They also sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban, Ki-moon and Myanmar military regime to urge the democratization of Myanmar. In 2011 after Song became Incheon Mayor, he made a phone call to Aungsan Suchi after her release from long house arrest to pay his respects to her dedication and noble spirit toward democracy, and to request that she visit Incheon during the Asian Games Incheon 2014.

Inter-Korean exchanges[edit]

Song has said that to prepare for reunification and to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, the South needs to increase similarities through economic, political and cultural exchanges with the North, which would help the North Korean economy increase its self-reliance. He believes that to bring lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula, new changes are much needed. In this context, Song went to Pyeongyang with young businessmen in 2003 and discussed the possibility of expanding economic cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two Koreas. Song has also visited Gaeseong Industrial Complex several times which has been playing a critical role in ensuring the self-reliance of North Korea and contributing to peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the world. Through these visits, he saw for himself the importance of Gaeseong Industrial Complex for Korean small enterprises as new sales channels. He held meetings with businessmen and government officials to encourage more companies to move to the North which might in turn induce the communist nation to introduce reform and openness. Song and the Democratic Party urged the government to carry out what had been agreed upon in the June 15 and October 4 Joint Declaration to improve relations between the two Koreas which had been strained by the tough stance of the current administration on North Korea. He also called on the government to enter dialogue with the North and to closely cooperate with neighboring countries to form 6-party talks which play such a vital role in the joint security of Northeast Asia. After becoming Incheon Mayor in 2010, Mayor Song declared Incheon to be the outpost of reconciliation, exchanges, peace and reunification of the two Koreas. Despite opposition from the government, he has insisted that there should be peace on the 5 islands near the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea for the economic development of Incheon. At the same time, Song has provided products to mothers and babies in North Korea through an agreement with the Korea Peace Foundation, which opened a door that was shut after the North's sinking of the Cheonan.[5]

Stimulating the economy[edit]

Based on his experience as a laborer and a taxi driver, Song believes that a lawmaker should be a good listener who is in touch with the difficulties and opinions of the general public. Song has tried to minimize damage to the economy which would directly impact the lives of commoners. As such, he doesn’t want to focus on a few large companies and would rather focus on helping the livelihoods of ordinary people. He proposed bills to exempt value added tax on rental fees for traditional market vendors in order to nurture traditional markets. He also submitted bills to prevent excessive increases in rental fees and protect the tenants of commercial buildings. He is dedicated to helping the underprivileged and middle classes.

Enhancing competitiveness for small and medium enterprises[edit]

While working for 6 years as a member of the Finance & Economy Committee in the National Assembly, Song felt that the main driver of Korea’s economy came from the small companies which account for 80% of all companies and therefore that the most important thing is to lay down foundations for those firms to grow. In 2008, most small exporting firms bought currency option products called KIKO (Knock-in Knock-out) to avoid the risk of foreign exchange rate fluctuations.[6] The companies were about to collapse again due to the inappropriate exchange rate policy of the current government but the government didn’t take the proper measures to rescue small companies. Song urged the Democratic Party to pay keen interest in this issue and to find solutions. By forming a special committee, he held dozens of meetings with small enterprises and led hearings to narrow differences and find solutions. In due course, he got a promise from the government to provide speedy support for small enterprises which performed well.

Diplomatic activities[edit]

In this globalized world, the problems of one nation are no longer limited to one nation. Song has long believed that the world needs to share diverse global issues through multi-channel dialogues to deal with its problems and through exchanges we need to understand and cooperate with each other. He has met with a lot of foreign leaders through many friendly activities after becoming a National Assemblyman. In particular, he became the Chairman of the Korean-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Council’s 21st Century Committee in 2004, and consequently held discussions and conferences on the various issues concerning Korea and Japan. He was also the Chairman of the Korea-France Parliaments’ Friendship Association and led active exchanges to promote knowledge about the EU and France. In 2007, he received Légion d'Honneur Chevalier from France for his dedication in promoting relations between Korea and France.[7] After his second term, Song realized the importance of diplomacy and visited and received other nations in order to increase exchanges and deepen the understanding of the US, Australia, China and other neighboring nations. When the Korea-US FTA negotiations began in 2006, Song became the Chairman of the Uri Party’s Special Committee on the Korea-US FTA in order to reflect the opinions of stakeholders and to take measures.[8] As such, he was able to expand exchanges with US officials including negotiation delegates and US congressmen. As the recognition of products from Gaesong Industrial Complex as Korean products became a hot issue, Song exchanged opinions on Gaeseong Industrial Complex that could help North Korea’s self-reliance and guarantee peace on the Korean Peninsula. In 2007, at the invitation of a US senator, he attended a reception marking the opening of the US Congress and discussed the Korea-US FTA, the North Korean nuclear program, and peace on the Korean Peninsula with then presidential nominee Obama, Senator Biden and other congressmen of the Democratic Party. In 2008, the results of the US presidential election and the Democratic Party’s regaining control after 8 years demanded new cooperation and close exchanges between Korea and the US. Song formed a Special Committee on Korea-US Relations Development and as chairman he endeavored to establish balanced diplomatic relations between Korea and the US, develop inter-Korean relations, enhance the Korea-US alliance, and promote economic cooperation including the Korea-US FTA.

Incheon mayoral election[edit]

When he declared his intention to run in the Incheon mayoral election, Song explained that he was running to win. At that time, the victory of the Democratic Party in the three metropolitan areas of Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon was uncertain, but he made it clear that he would win in Incheon, triggering victories in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, which will lay the foundations for a change of administration. With the announcement of his running, Song talked about his plans for nurturing small enterprises, balancing development between the old and new town, expanding welfare provision, enhancing educational competitiveness, and providing free eco-friendly meals to make Incheon the economic capital of Korea. link [9] [10]

Invitation of the UNGCF Secretariat[edit]

The challenges of climate change necessitate a transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is expected to promote such a transition by providing support to developing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. Meaningful progress will be made through a combination of long-term commitments and immediate action based on international cooperation.

Korea officially delivered is intention to host the GCF Secretariat in November 2011, and also selected Songdo of Incheon to be the host city of the office in March 2012.

Green Climate Fund


At the sixteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Cancun, Mexico, from 29 November to 10 December 2010, the Parties decided to establish the Green Climate Fund.

By the same decision, the COP decided that the Green Climate Fund would be designed by a Transitional Committee.

The Transitional Committee comprised 40 members (15 members from developed country Parties and 25 members from developing country Parties). It met four times in the course of 2011 and, in accordance with its terms of reference, submitted to the COP at its 17th session in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011, the report for its consideration and approval.

Songdo was selected as the host city of the UNGCF Secretariat at the 2nd GCF Board Meeting on October 20, 2012.[11]


The Fund has 24-board members, the Secretariat and 194 member nations.

-Scale of the Secretariat

The Secretariat is expected to have 300 to 500 employees in the initial period, which will rise to over 8,000 once the fund gets up and running.

-Rationale for the selection of Incheon as the host city

Incheon is a hub city of economy, logistics and trade in Northeast Asia. There are 61 cities of more than 1 million people with access to 2 billion people within a 3-hour flight of the city.

By vigorously nurturing logistics, tourism, leisure, IT and BT industries, Incheon is developing into the leading hub city of Northeast Asia and the heart and business hub of Korea. Much of its development is centered on Incheon International Airport and Incheon Port.

-The optimal location for the UNGCF Secretariat.

Songdo International City boasts state-of-the-art working conditions. It has international schools, a Global University Campus and its own Central Park. As such, it is well equipped with education and medical services, accommodation provision, MICE, and parks. In addition, it has garnered attention from around the world as a low-carbon, eco-friendly city. Songdo International City at once embodies the goal of the Green Climate Fund, and provides foreigner-friendly living conditions as a compact, smart city.

-A new growth engine for Incheon

The KDI (Korea Development Institute) has estimated that the economic benefit of the UNGCF Secretariat to be 380 billion won a year in the initial stage. The IDI (Incheon Development Institute) has forecasted that the direct economic effect to Incheon will reach 190 billion won a year. In addition, hosting the GCF will create new businesses in green financing, green technology industries, and green products, increasing the direct and indirect economic effects.

In particular, it will increase Incheon's brand value as a low carbon green growth model city and contribute to boosting investment in Incheon Free Economic Zone. The decision to establish such a major international organization in the city will contribute to easing inter-Korean relations and develop Incheon's role as a bridge between developing and developed nations. The influence of Korea in international society is also expected to grow gradually as a result of the decision to locate the GCF Secretariat in Songdo.

Election results[edit]

Election Post Party  % of Votes Result
16th General Election National Assemblyman Millennium Democratic Party 47.9% 1
17th General Election National Assemblyman Uri Party 55.6% 1
18th General Election National Assemblyman Democratic Party 46.1% 1
5th Local Election Incheon City Mayor Democratic Party 52.7% 1


  • 2000 - Selected as the best National Assemblyman for Inspection of National Affairs
  • 2001~2004 - Selected as the best National Assembly research groups
Ethical Politics Research Group
Lawmakers to Nurture National Spirit
Lawmakers for the National Interest and Culture
  • 2003~2004 - Selected as the outstanding National Assembly research groups
Ethical Politics Research Group
Lawmakers to Nurture National Spirit
  • 2005~2008 - Selected as the outstanding National Assembly research group
Market Economy and Social Safety Net Forum (co-head)
  • 2007 - Won France’s Légion d'Honneur Chevalier
  • 2010 - Proud Yonsei People Award, Yonsei University


  • Song, Young-gil (2003) Follow this Path like a Bull
  • Song, Young-gil (2009) Turning Walls into Doors


External links[edit]