[EDITORIALS]Misplaced capital rhetoric

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[EDITORIALS]Misplaced capital rhetoric

In his speech to Foreign Ministry officials explaining the need for relocating the nation’s capital, Kim An-je, head of the Presidential Committee on Administrative Capital Relocation, made an amazing statement. He said: “If war breaks out, and we reach a cease-fire around Pyeongtaek, we would lose 50 percent of the populace and 70 percent of our national resources.”
To date, the government’s rationale was that it would alleviate overcrowding in Seoul and Gyeonggi province and bring about balanced national development. But Mr. Kim’s words suggest that relocation is, in part, to prepare in case a war breaks out and Seoul is taken. The logic is that if we move the capital to Gongju-Yeongi in South Chungcheong province, we could lessen war damage if the North Korean military invades. Does that mean we are willing to give up Seoul? It is an astounding thought.
Mr. Kim also said, “Because of Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon, Gangwon province and other regions are withering. To supply the great people living in the capital (Seoul) with clean water, they cannot raise pigs.” He said there were arguments that Seoul National University should also move to South Chungcheong province, but because of the university’s “diehards,” he forecast that it would not happen. His words are hostile, cast the relationship between the capital area (Seoul and Gyeonggi province) and non-capital area as adversarial, and brand residents of Seoul and the Gyeonggi province as “evil beings,” who must be toppled.
Capital relocation is a central project for the Roh administration, and Mr. Kim commands this project. Can the administration really sell the relocation to the public when the man in charge speaks in such a manner? If we are to go by his rhetoric, we should never relocate to a new capital. We will never give up Seoul and surrounding Gyeonggi province even in war.
We have repeatedly expressed our concern that capital relocation was charging ahead without a comprehensive analysis and without a public hearing. We have argued that this matter should be determined only with our country’s future in mind. The plan should be open for balanced public discussion, opinion gathering and finding a third way even if that means abolishing the plan. We would also welcome an explanation from Mr. Kim about his less-than-appropriate comments.

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