By Kwon Mee-yoo
Four in 10 executives of foreign financial firms believe Yeouido is too closely associated with Korean politics, being home to the National Assembly, to become the regional financial hub Korea wants it to be. Only 19 percent cited it as a viable financial center.
According to a survey of 80 executives at foreign firms ― most of them financial services companies ― regarding Yeouido's prospects, naysayers barely outnumber optimists at 26 percent to 24 percent. The rest opted not to answer the question.
They associate Seoul's financial district with politics, which is worrisome, considering the negative coverage the National Assembly has received so far, as scuffles between lawmakers have been the constant butt of jokes in the international community.
To overcome this image problem, the respondents suggested a number of incentives to attract global firms.
"We are trying to meet the needs of foreign investors," Lee Eun-hyo of Seoul City said.
City Hall conducted survey of executives of 136 foreign and foreign-affiliated firms, and participants of the Seoul International Finance Conference last November. About 80 responded.
Yeouido is key to the central and local government's ambitious plan to set up a "Wall Street of Asia" by 2013.
Seoul City is currently building the International Finance Center Seoul (IFC Seoul): a complex of three office buildings, a five-star hotel and a shopping mall designed by the renowned Arquitectonica.
The survey also found that more than 67 percent of expatriates work at downtown offices and 44 percent reside in the Yongsan District.
The most common tool of communication was English with 87 percent using it.
Of the respondents, 61 percent were satisfied with the living conditions in Seoul ― most were pleased with the residential environment and transportation. However, they were least content with language barriers and the educational system.
Six out of 10 do not live with their children, implying that Seoul offers poor international education for expats.