Civil Servants Conspicuously Absent from SKU MeetingOn March 23 at 10 a.m., at the Green Korea United (GKU) conference hall in Ahngook-dong, Seoul, a meeting discussing 'reckless development in the metropolitan area' was held by the GKU Korea Environmental Litigation Center.
Panel leader Son Kwang-hun, 38, a lawyer representing the GKU, was surprised by an unexpected turn of events. Two officials, one from the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and the other from Yongin city, failed to show up as scheduled. A researcher from the Kyonggi Development Institute (KYDI) also failed to show.
The panel discussion proceeded according to schedule but attendees lost the chance to hear the developers' point of view on excessive metropolitan development. Citizens who atteneded the meeting had to content themselves with listening to discussions between city experts and civic group representatives.
Yoo Wang-sun, 41, who leads a civic group against further construction of skyscrapers pointed out, "Civil servants are simply not taking citizens' opinions seriously enough and are trying to downplay the importance of our meetings." He added,"Since public servants play a large part in encouraging further development they should also make an effort to listen to and cooperate with the general public."
A few days before the March 20 panel discussion the GKU informed the public that a high-level official from Yongin city would attend the meeting. One participant called the Ministry of Construction and Transportation to find out why the minister was late, however, "The Ministry told us they would get back to us after contacting the proper authorities but nothing came of it."
The KYDI researcher who was expected to participate in the meeting cancelled at the last minute. It is not known why he cancelled.
If civil servants honestly believe that current metropolitan development is not out of control they should address public concerns with confidence and provide some explanations.
by Jeon Ik-jin