&#91EDITORIALS&#93Don’t rush moving capital

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[EDITORIALS]Don’t rush moving capital

We are concerned that the new administration seems to be hurrying too much to move Korea’s administrative capital out of Seoul. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation has announced that it will begin a field study in the next few months to decide on a new capital before June 2004. The government plans to embark on the construction of the new administrative capital in 2007 and move in in 2010.
Such an announcement gives us the impression that the government has made the transfer of the capital a done deal and is pushing ahead with it. During President Roh Moo-hyun’s election campaign in December, he vowed to put the issue to a national referendum. He no longer mentions that plan.
Few people will disagree that it is necessary to disperse the function of the existing capital to ease excessive centralization in Seoul of resources and manpower, and to achieve a balanced development in the country’s land. But moving the nation’s capital must not be decided in a unilateral and hasty manner.
The government should figure out which of its functions ought to be moved first and what impact the transfer will have on the economy, society, politics and people’s lives. The government must carefully analyze the security, diplomatic and symbolic significance of the capital transfer. The government should also consider how it will fund the move and whether the country can afford it.
The government should thoroughly study all these considerations first, before listening to the people and the National Assembly, and persuading dissenting members. But making such a surprise announcement and skipping all the necessary procedures will cause deleterious side effects and waste national resources. It took Brazil 70 years to move its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brazilia. Moving Korea’s capital is not something that a president with a single five-year term can push for unilaterally because of political considerations. He must start with letting experts debate the issue and hearing public opinion.
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