Mayor of Seoul pays visit to city

The mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, paid a visit to the city on Wednesday and held talks with mayor Dolfi Müller.

It was in August that a delegation of high-ranking managers and politicians from South Korea had come to Zug to find out more about blockchain technology on a private basis. They promised that, on their return home, they would persuade others to come to Crypto Valley, hence this visit of the mayor of the Seoul, though he was here as part of an official tour he was making in Europe, going on to visit Zurich, Barcelona, Bilbao and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

The mayor of Seoul, with its population of 10 million, was accompanied by some 30 other delegates, all of whom had come to Zug because it was regarded as the blockchain centre of Europe, if not the world. After saying what it a pleasure it was for him to have met Dolfi Müller, Won-Soon said how much blockchain was a topic discussed in South Korea, too, with as many as 40 conferences a year taking place about it there.

Müller went on to talk about the development of city and local area and how the term Crypto Valley had been used to apply to the cluster of companies working in blockchain technology here in recent years. “Had anyone told me, years ago, that I would ever be meeting the mayor of Seoul to talk about it, I would never have believed them,” said Müller, adding how the technology could well be revolutionary, with its potential to connect up so much, not least little towns such as Zug and great metropolises such as Seoul.

For his part, Won-soon indicated he was aware of the criticism surrounding it and wondered how the city had coped with this. “There are times when you just have to have the courage to do something and not then consider 100 times whether you have done the right thing,” said Müller, in reference to his willingness to accept bitcoin as payment up to a certain level for services provided by the city. He also said that what also had helped was the city initially taking smaller steps, such as in accepting digital IDs and their use in voting, which meant being able to avoid unforeseen problems. “Then bigger steps will have able to be taken but at least we will be prepared, bearing in mind all the experience we have had,” he added.

One pertinent question the mayor of Seoul had was how to explain the benefits of blockchain to the wider public. “This is not a technical matter,” replied Müller, who admitted he himself did not know how it worked in detail. “What is of central importance,” he said, “was to show people where its added value lay and what new solutions it presented.”  

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