[EDITORIALS]Encourage industrial townsDaum Communications Corp., a leading Internet media group, plans to move its head office to Jeju province. LG Group announced that LG.Philips LCD would build a liquid crystal display plant in Paju, Gyeonggi province, and develop the surrounding area into an industrial town.
Samsung Group also plans to build an industrial city in Asan, South Chungcheong province. Decentralization initiated by the private sector ― moving the head office to the provinces or building an industrial city outside Seoul ― should be welcomed.
Although companies complain about the population concentration in the Seoul area, few volunteer to relocate to the provinces. The government effort to curb the growth of the Seoul area has limits. The fundamental solution rests with the decision of individual companies and people to move out of the area.
People prefer to live in Seoul not only because of job opportunities, but also because of better living conditions, including education and cultural facilities. Moving only job opportunities to the provinces will have little decentralization effect.
The biggest obstacle keeping businesses from moving to the provinces is the difficulty in securing a skilled workforce. Daum Communications says it will give first priority to investing in the welfare of its employees. Creation of an industrial city should include a plan for a pleasant living, educational and cultural environment, along with a job, to attract highly qualified workers and their family members.
Local governments are responding positively to the move. Jeju province will provide Daum with various benefits, including tax deductions. But there are problems in creating an industrial city. First, businesses want to create one in the Seoul area or the Chungcheong provinces, while the government recommends other areas.
Regulations on land development are strict and complicated. There is no consensus on the extent to which concerned businesses will be allowed to reap profits from development. If an industrial city is created, however, it will be possible to accomplish the balanced development of the nation without spending a huge amount of the budget to move the capital.