중앙데일리

Political firefight flares over remark on capital

Jan 30,2004
Opposition parties reacted angrily yesterday to a comment by President Roh Moo-hyun that the transfer of the national government out of Seoul would herald an important change in the country’s leadership.
In Thursday’s event held at Daejeon Government Complex Mr. Roh said, “Moving the administrative capital means a change of the ruling forces.” He then added, “If you browse through history books, new leadership moved capitals so that they could take root in a new land, away from the turf of the old leadership.”
As late as Jan. 14, Mr. Roh has downplayed the significance of his plan to relocate the capital to an undecided city in the Chungcheong provinces. Aware of public resistance to moving government agencies and the National Assembly out of Seoul, he had stressed that the new administrative capital would be a theme-city with a population of around 500,000.
The changed nuance of Mr. Roh’s wording added to the controversy stirred by the venue of the event. His detractors called the event, in which the president unveiled his blueprint of lessening the concentration of business and politics in Seoul and diversifying it to others regions, as a get-out-the-vote function.
“His words are like lines of the television drama about Gungye, king of a splinter 10th-century Korean dynasty. Is he attempting a revolution or what?” said Chairman Chough Soon-hyung of the Millennium Democratic Party. He was referring to the post-Goguryeo dynasty (901-918 A.D.), founded by Gungye, who moved its capital from Gaeseong, which is now in North Korea, to Cheorwon in Gangwon province.
“Our party will examine thoroughly what he meant by that at the February session in the National Assembly,” Mr. Chough said.
The Blue House spokesman, Yoon Tai-young, said that the comment was a figure of speech to stress the importance of growing regions and localities relatively lagging behind Seoul.


by Lee Sang-il


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