[EDITORIALS]Forced move will be costly

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[EDITORIALS]Forced move will be costly

In a move to balance national development, the government is promoting a plan to relocate around 200 public institutions to the provinces outside the Seoul metropolitan area. The plan complements the proposed relocation of the nation’s administrative capital, as the government believes moving only the administrative capital will not be enough to achieve balanced national development.
Balanced national development is an important goal, and we appreciate this public initiative. But the plan, as it stands now, has some problems.
First, before the public institutions are relocated, a larger framework on national development is needed. Where exactly the new administrative capital will be built and which region of the nation will be specialized for what purpose should precede the public institution relocation plan.
The government is also reportedly asking the public institutions to choose their relocation sites from several candidates, which seems to be illogical.
Second, we believe each public institution is uniquely related to diverse governmental and private institutions and to individuals. To sever the established networks for relocation will incur enormous social costs.
We believe the benefits of the relocation should at least offset the social costs, but experts say that the relocation’s economic vitalization effect on the provinces will not be great.
Unlike businesses that create production hubs in the provinces, public institutions will not contribute much to job creation there.
How to use the buildings and land in the Seoul metropolitan area that will become vacant as a result of the mass relocation is another problem. If the overcrowding in the capital is mitigated as the government hopes, then the efficacy of the buildings and land will drop as well.
Distributing public institutions here and there without carefully considering the effects is like planting flowers in barren land. What needs to be done first is to make the provinces a desirable place to live.
Something like compulsory relocation will not achieve provincial development. Rather, it is only likely to lower the efficiency of public administration.
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