[EDITORIALS]Government folly in Gimpo

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[EDITORIALS]Government folly in Gimpo

The government’s plan to build a new town in Gimpo is going to dwindle away to nothing after an initial promise of greatness. The Ministry of Construction and Transportation has announced that it will reduce the site by more than two-thirds, from 3,888 acres to 1,215, at the request of the Defense Ministry.
The Gimpo plan comprises the core of the government’s plan for building new towns. In order to relieve the housing shortage in the Seoul area, it plans to build a new town slightly bigger than Ilsan, with 75,000 housing units, a foreign language school and other facilities. It plans to equip the town with such infrastructure as a light rail line and an expressway connecting it to Seoul. Since the announcement in May of last year, Gimpo has been gripped by real estate speculation; land was taken off the market, and apartment prices skyrocketed.
Now it is revealed that the plan was announced without necessary consultation with a relevant ministry. We are dumbfounded. The Gimpo government, investors, residents who bought land for their move, and residents who dreamed of a chance to buy their own houses, must be equally bewildered. More serious is the damage to the government’s credibility. If a development plan announced by the government is cancelled because of “absence of prior consultation,” how can people believe the government’s words?
Development plans have been pouring forth lately: a five-year plan for balanced development of the nation, relocation of public institutions to the provinces, plans to build new towns in provinces and the plan to move the capital. Have these plans received elaborate and comprehensive review? Will they be overturned for reasons currently unknown? We cannot have confidence in them in view of what’s happened in Gimpo.
Every development plan affects a region and its residents. It affects people’s daily lives and the competitiveness of the nation. Therefore, it should be subject to expert debate and the process of collecting public opinion. If plans are pushed through ignoring such procedures, the chances of another Gimpo will be high. Given this incident, the government should reconsider its capital relocation plan more comprehensively and elaborately.
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