[EDITORIALS]Rich vs. poor vs. Mr. Roh“A policy made in Seoul, over a breakfast and lunch with people living in Gangnam who only think about the interest of Seoul, can’t be a policy for decentralization and balanced development of the nation.”
This is what President Roh Moo-hyun said Friday at a forum for “Five-year Plan for Reform and Development of the Gangwon Area.” It is true that there is an aspect that Mr. Roh wanted to emphasize his strong will to pursue balanced regional development and the capital move, and preached in part the essence of balanced development.
But his remark revealed contentions that we cannot let pass unchallenged, both in his use of words and understanding. First of all, it is not appropriate for a president, who has to pursue national integration as the foremost principle of the administration, to pour out emotional words against people in a certain district. His remark gave the impression that Gangnam residents are the only people who oppose the capital move. But this is not true. In various recent opinion polls, opposition to the move exceeds approval. As surveys are conducted nationwide, it can’t be said that only Gangnam residents are against the capital move.
Is this a strategy to alienate Gangnam, the home of many rich people? If stigmatizing the Gangnam residents as a minority who reject balanced development is an attempt to accomplish political objectives by pitting rich against poor, it will be a big problem. The nation is already beset with ruinous regionalism, so how can we manage if we divide Seoul into Gangnam (south of the Han River) and Gangbuk (north of the Han)?
To enhance national competitiveness, it is important to promote balanced regional development. But we can’t agree with the way it is being done: Balanced regional development must be promoted through the move of the capital, and those against the move are accused of being anti-reform forces.
Mr. Roh said last month on the move against capital move, “I feel as if it is a vote of no-confidence in me and as pressure demanding resignation.” If his remark on Gangnam is made as an extension of his earlier remark, it will cause national misfortune.
Balanced regional development should not result in division and confrontation between regions and between the government and the people. Special care should be taken so that a policy matter isn’t turned into a political issue.