[EDITORIALS]Korean capitals everywhere

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[EDITORIALS]Korean capitals everywhere

Koreans are confused about President Roh Moo-hyun’s remarks about still another new capital. He was speaking with broadcast journalists Tuesday.
Mr. Roh said a new capital was needed to prepare for Korean reunification, a place from which to administer the interim federation of the two nations. He named the truce village of Panmunjeom on the border with the North or Gaeseong in North Korea as prospective sites.
If such a plan materializes, Korea would have three capitals: one somewhere in the Chungcheong provinces after the government administrative center is moved there, one in Pyeongyang and a third “unification capital.” If the latter is really necessary, why is the Roh administration in such a hurry to move South Korea’s capital away from Seoul? The estimated cost of that move has been snowballing; the latest estimate is about 40 trillion won ($34 billion).
What would be the relationships of those capitals? If a unification capital is necessary, do we really have to build a new capital for South Korea in Chungcheong? We would like some explanations.
We have long been skeptical about the real intentions of the Roh administration’s policy for moving the capital. At his news conference, Mr. Roh said, “This is not an attempt to relocate the nation’s psycho-political center. It has nothing to do with a new ruling class.” But in Daejeon a month ago, he said that “relocating a capital is always a matter of defining a ruling class. We have to relocate the nation’s psycho-political center in order to make a shift from the old ruling class to a new one.”
Psycho-political center, administrative capital, unification capital. What’s going on here?
Perhaps the answer that comes to mind first is that it is an election ploy. Mr. Roh, indeed, said last November, “I really got some benefit in the presidential election from the promise to build a new administrative capital.” Today, land prices in the prospective capital area have jumped by 300 percent, and civic groups are even criticizing the administration for stimulating speculation.
The administrative capital relocation should not go ahead without a national consensus. Mr. Roh should not confuse the people any more with this issue and simply cancel all his plans.
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