VIP_Saemauludong_2.jpg President Park Geun-hye addresses a high-level special forum on Korea's New Community Movement, or Saemaul Undong, on Sept. 26 at U.N. headquarters in New York.

President Park Geun-hye attended a high-level special forum on Korea's Saemaul Undong, or New Community Movement, a rural development scheme from the '70s and '80s, co-hosted by the U.N. Development Plan (UNDP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Sept. 26 at U.N. headquarters in New York. 

At the forum, President Park spoke about elements that lead to the success of Korea's Saemaul Undong, or New Community Movement, such as incentives and competition, the participation of local residents and leadership from the head of state. She declared the firm will of the Korean government to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the international community by proposing that the Saemaul Undong be used as a model for rural development in the 21st century. 

In her opening speech, she said that the keys to the success of the Saemaul Undong were incentives and competition and leadership from the head of state based on trust and the voluntary participation of the citizens. 

“In the first year of the Saemaul Undong, the government provided the same amount of cement to 33,000 villages nationwide and said, ‘Do what you want to do with this in the village. You need to use it for joint projects for the village.’ Some villages began to operate joint projects by combining their labor, money and land with the given cement. Other villages didn't have any outcome, even after receiving the cement,” said the president. 

“In the following year, the government supported only 16,600 villages that had done well . Farmers who had previously lacked willpower due to lingering poverty began competing and cooperating to win support. This led to big waves in terms of rural modernization.” 

“Having seen the ‘can do’ spirit made into reality, citizens became their own leaders of change. The government fostered leaders of the New Community Movement with systematic programs. They became catalysts of change who led the voluntary participation of the residents,” she said. 

“I believe the Saemaul Undong can become a strategy for global rural development and one of national development that meets the uniqueness of each country and the changes of the times. I also hope a new development paradigm based on the New Community Movement can contribute to eliminating poverty around the world and achieving sustainable development. The Republic of Korea is ready to cooperate with all developing countries, the U.N., the OECD and other international organizations, such as the World Bank.”