[EDITORIALS]No democracy in this park

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[EDITORIALS]No democracy in this park

The government decided to create a park dedicated to those who fought for democratization, which will comprise a cemetery and a memorial park in Suyu-dong, north of Seoul. The park of 27,000 pyeong (89,100 square-meters) will be created within the Bukhansan National Park. With some 8,000 pyong to be used for the cemetery, the authorities decided to cancel the national park designation, since the project would damage the area. We have no objections to the plan to create a park or a cemetery for democracy fighters. We should point out, however, that projects like this should be promoted after surveying public opinion and that damaging national parks is wrong.

Creating a park dedicated to democracy fighters is one of 10 memorial projects proposed by the Committee for Restoration of Honor and Compensation for those who fought in the democracy movement. The purpose is to create a cemetery for those who fought for democracy during military dictatorships but whose remains are scattered around the country. Since last year, locations such as the former premises of the intelligence agency near Namsan, an area near Mount Daemo in Naegok-dong and Yongsan Family Park were considered. But due to objections from Seoul city no decision was made. With family members of the democracy fighters demanding the project, the administration decided, behind closed doors, on the site in Suyu-dong. The decision was pushed ahead at a meeting of concerned government offices held at the Blue House last month.

The decision represents the typical opportunism of bureaucrats of the old era. It naturally aroused objections from the parties concerned. The residents living near the planned site asked, "Why should the national park frequented by the largest number of citizens be sacrificed?" Environmentalists claim that there is no precedence of canceling an area designated as a national park and that the number of visitors to Bukhansan National Park is already seven times more than its capacity.

This decision, made in an undemocratic way, should be reconsidered. Through public hearings, resident voting and collecting expert opinions, a new site should be selected. Then it will fit the ideals of a democracy park.
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