[EDITORIALS]A new city, conceived in hasteThe governing and opposition parties yesterday approved an agreement to move 12 government ministries and six major offices from Seoul to the Yeongi-Gongju area in South Chungcheong province. The government bodies to be moved are mostly those that handle economic and social affairs. The Blue House, the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and the Ministries of Unification, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice and Government Administration, which handle basic administrative affairs, will remain in Seoul.
It seems that a malformed capital, not a real capital, is going to be created. We question how effectively this project can contribute to the cause of balanced development of the nation.
In addition to the immediate construction costs involved in building a new city, the project will incur great social and administrative costs. We suspect that the Uri and Grand National parties reached this agreement in haste, caring only about attracting votes from Chungcheong residents.
The intent of the Constitutional Court’s ruling last year that the original capital relocation plan was unconstitutional does not fit the idea of creating a city like this. The court’s ruling suggested that any such project required a public consensus. If the politicians claim that this project is not a capital relocation because the Blue House, National Assembly and Supreme Court will stay in Seoul, then they are just playing with the ruling.
Whether it is developed naturally or artificially, a city is something that is created for a reason. A commercial city is built at a site that facilitates transportation; a military city’s location is determined by strategic factors. Of course, a nation can move its capital for political reasons. But those reasons should serve the public good, not narrow, factional interests. Relocation incurs social costs. We believe the Constitutional Court’s ruling was meant to serve the public good.
An incomplete city created by politicians with selfish motives may produce long-lasting disputes. We question whether this city will really help the residents of the Yeongi-Gongju area. Only a functional city that suits the region’s characteristics will truly help the area develop in the long term. We believe that such a city is what Yeongi-Gongju residents require. That will be truly balanced national development. We ask both parties to reconsider the agreement.