[EDITORIALS]Caution on moving hastilyWith the presidential election just a week away, the candidates are wrangling over whether to move the country's capital from Seoul to Chungcheong province. Some voters might feel the issue is beyond their interest, and others might brush off the discussion as another empty election pledge. But Roh Moo-hyun, presidential candidate of the Millennium Democratic Party, has reiterated his commitment to the issue. We believe moving the capital could cause national confusion.
Dispersing the population from Seoul is an urgent task. But, as experts point out, Mr. Roh's plan lacks a thorough study on how to minimize the side effects of moving administrative functions from the capital. They argue that Mr. Roh fails to have a profound understanding of military and economic insecurities the move could bring about. They also say Mr. Roh is naive to think that simply moving the capital would contribute to cutting real estate prices, benefiting the poor and the middle class. In reality, these two income groups could suffer most from the repercussions and side effects on the national economy caused by a depreciation of real estate values in the Seoul area. If we take into consideration Korean unification, we also can appreciate that Seoul carries greater geographical importance, not to mention its symbolic and historic significance.
Moving a country's capital is a long-term issue as we can see from Germany's case, where a decade was needed to move the capital from Bonn to Berlin. The issue cannot be treated as a mere campaign pledge; it must be addressed in a referendum or by the National Assembly. Some specialists question whether Mr. Roh has failed to factor in expenses other than construction costs when he gave the numbers 6 trillion won ($4.9 billion) or 4.5 trillion won as the total cost of moving the capital.
The next president will not have time to address other important tasks if he pursues this issue. Mr. Roh, as well as the voters, must keep in mind that this is an issue that cannot receive too much scrutiny.