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Ministries to start Sejong City move

Dec 12,2013
Workers move packing boxes into the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy yesterday in Gwacheon Central Government Complex. From tomorrow, six central government ministries and 10 government-affiliated organizations under those six ministries will relocate to Sejong City. [NEWS1]
The migration of civil servants from Seoul to the nation’s mini capital city of Sejong will begin Friday, the government announced yesterday.

Six ministries and their 10 agencies will move to Sejong City, located 120 kilometers (74.5 miles) south of Seoul, from Friday until Dec. 29.This month’s migration is the second stage of the government’s relocation plan, which will see the move of 4,888 civil servants.

The Ministry of Education; Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry of Health and Welfare; Ministry of Employment and Labor; and Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs are all slated to move to Sejong city this month.

The National Labor Relations Commission and the Korean Culture and Information Service are among the 10 agencies that will move to Sejong.

The first stage of the move took place last year, when six key government offices, including the prime minister’s office and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance completed their relocation.

When the second-stage relocation is completed this month, 10 out of the 17 ministries will be located in Sejong and about 10,000 public servants will work from there, the government said.

Meanwhile, ministry workers were busy packing yesterday. According to the government, 1,889 trucks, each capable of carrying 5 tons, were commissioned to transport electronics, boxes and furniture.

“Because we need to move the servers all at the same time for security reasons, the computers will be unplugged on Dec. 22,” said Seol Se-hun, head of the Education Ministry’s General Services Division. “On Dec. 23, everyone will start work in the Sejong offices.”

But packing appears to be the easy part; so far, relocating 4,888 civil servants has proved to be tricky.

According to the Office for Government Policy Coordination’s survey in April, only 20 percent of government workers have plans to buy new residences in Sejong. Among the rest, 44 percent said they will commute from Seoul, while some said they will find temporary housing.

The team responsible for coordinating the Sejong relocation project, which is part of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, said it had arranged short-term lodging to accommodate about 360 people in nearby areas - those who are still seeking permanent housing in Sejong or those who cannot go back to their homes in Seoul after late-night shifts.

A 41-year-old director at the Education Ministry said he found temporary housing at Korea National University of Education in nearby Cheongwon County, North Chungcheong.

“My wife has a job in Seoul, so I have to live alone for a while,” he said. “I am not sure how I can come up with my own house in Sejong.”

Another director, at the Ministry of Employment and Labor, said it was nearly impossible for those with families or middle- and high school-aged children to move to Sejong.

“Among the 10 directors close to me, most of them - except for a few - decided to live alone in Sejong or commute from Seoul,” he said.

Many public servants said they refrained from relocating to Sejong with their families because of the city’s poor infrastructure.

Although the government relocation began last year, the city still lacks proper education, living conditions and transportation infrastructure, many claimed. Some government workers are avoiding the chaos of the initial relocation period by taking parental leave. The government acknowledged yesterday it has tried to improve the situation. More parking lots, child care centers and cafeterias were built at the Sejong government complex, it said.

Eleven new schools, in addition to the current 14, will open by March next year.

BY SER MYO-JA, CHUN IN-SUNG [myoja@joongang.co.kr]




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