[EDITORIALS]Let the capital debate beginIt has finally been decided that Yeongi-Gongju in South Chungcheong province will be the site of the new capital. Despite strong opposition and critical public opinion, the government is pushing ahead with the plan as if launching a blitzkrieg.
It seems that the government intends to make the move an established fact by asking people to follow it blindly now that the construction site has been decided. But it should not do so.
The formal debate on the capital move, including its appropriateness and necessity, should be open from now. As we pointed out repeatedly, the procedure of a national debate on the issue has been omitted. Therefore, the government should not try to use the selection of the site as an opportunity for consolidating the plan. It must take the occasion as a starting point of debate on the pros and cons of the capital move.
Discussions made in the absence of a fixed place to move the capital were nothing but a hypothetical analysis. From now on, we can have detailed debates. We can now find out whether the people agree with the plan to move the capital to Yeongi-Gongju. The cost of the move must also be calculated and analyzed anew. How much will be needed for compensation for 16,200 acres of land to be expropriated for the plan? To what extent can existing infrastructure, such as roads and a water system, be utilized? What new infrastructure will be needed?
Also, when the capital is moved to Yeongi-Gongju, will the balanced development of the nation, as the government claims, be possible? Will the move result in the appearance of a megalopolis, embracing several metropolises including the Seoul metropolitan area, as some experts claim? Will the new capital be suitable to be the capital after unification?
Another important factor is the environmental effect of developing 16,200 acres of land for the capital. A wide-ranging evaluation of the effects on the environment of creating the new capital should be carried out.
Moving the capital cannot be accomplished during one administration. Therefore, it is necessary to get a national consensus on the plan. Then the plan will not be changed even after a change of government.