[EDITORIALS]Be careful with developmentRepresentative Kim Han-gill of the governing Uri Party, head of the government’s special committee for the development of the Seoul metropolitan area, said Tuesday that the government is considering relocating Seoul Airport, used by the Air Force as well as by the president from Seongnam, Gyeonggi province. He said the move will heighten the competitiveness of the Seoul area after the administrative city is created in the central Chungcheong provinces. Prior to that announcement, the Uri Party said it would ease regulations to allow construction of universities in the Seoul metropolitan area. Also, there are reports that regulations will be eased concerning the sites where 180 government agencies now stand to allow building of apartments, commercial and official complexes.
But the Ministry of Construction and Transportation and the Ministry of Defense said they were not considering moving the Seoul Airport out of Seongnam. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development also said that nothing has been decided on allowing the building of universities in the Seoul Metropolitan area and the plan was only at the consideration phase. There is much legal work in changing regulations to convert the existing government land into residential and commercial areas.
The seemingly contradictory litany of announcements made by the Uri Party gives the impression that they are political gestures at best to appease the residents opposed to the capital relocation. If indeed, they are lip service, the Uri Party is playing deceitful tricks.
But the problem is graver if they do not amount to mere political gestures. The government has set out to build a new administrative city and move government agencies to various different locations in the country, to alleviate the heavy concentration of people and resources in the Seoul capital area and to bring every region a certain minimum level of development. But according to the governing party, they now want new housing, colleges and commercial complexes in Seoul. Isn’t that overcrowding? Also, are they saying that housing and commercial complexes mean higher competitiveness than government complexes?
The government’s twin goals of reducing the overcrowding in Seoul , and bringing about balanced national development, should not in turn mean nationwide rampant development that may, in the long term, drag down the country’s competitiveness.