[EDITORIALS]Politics behind capital planSenior scholars on city planning have issued a statement opposing the government’s plan to build a new administrative capital in the Chungcheong provinces. The scholars argue that spending 45 trillion won to reduce Seoul’s population by 500,000 has no rationale. Also, they point out Roh Moo-hyun’s election ― who pledged the creation of a new capital in the area ― does not mean that there is a national consensus on the issue.
Because the government has not collected public opinion on the move, the scholars’ advice is compelling. Moving the capital is a task that will shape the future of the nation, yet it has not undergone sufficient debate and research by experts and the public.
During the election, the Millennium Democratic Party said it was possible to move with just 4 trillion to 6 trillion won. Experts estimate that it will cost more than 10 billion won. We must also pay attention to the argument that it will be more effective for the balanced development of rural areas to directly invest there instead of spending money on the move. Having the administrative capital in the Chungcheong area could result in the expansion of Seoul metropolitan area, which would go against the logic of balanced regional development. If we do need a new administrative capital, it is something that we must consider calmly with a long-term perspective, taking into account a possible reunification.
Currently in the Chungcheong provinces, there is fierce competition among candidates for legislative seats who pledge to bring the capital to their area. Even the Grand National Party, which had pointed out problems with the idea in last year’s election, has taken a wait-and-see stance in the region.
It is more pathetic to see the opposition party not opposing the move. Indeed, how intolerable this must have been for the senior scholars to make a statement against the move. The moving of the capital should not be a product of political maneuvering. The government should be open to all options, including canceling it altogether, and start the process of consolidating public opinion. If necessary, this issue should be put to the test in the legislative elections next spring.