[EDITORIALS]Rethink development planLand prices are surging in areas of South Jeolla and North Chungcheong provinces where the government plans to relocate state-owned firms. Land prices for rice paddies in Jangseong and Damyang, South Jeolla province, doubled overnight, and locals are busy dealing with prospective buyers. The government warned that areas where land prices are soaring will be excluded from consideration for siting new cities; the effect of that warning lasted less than two days.
The development plan for Seoul metropolitan area, which was announced the following day, is being criticized as a stopgap measure. People have pointed out that the plan is nothing but a collection of miscellaneous measures that have been seen before. Since the plan concentrated on maintaining balance with other provinces, such important elements as easing regulations on Seoul-area factory construction were not included, and there was no explanation of financing. We feel sorry for the government, which is busy soothing the anger of Seoul residents. Even some governing party lawmakers urged that the plan be reconsidered from scratch.
The plans for administrative cities and new cities have been promoted according to the logic of politics. From the beginning, problems were apparent. Considering the record-low interest rates, nationwide territorial development was bound to cause fluctuations in land prices. It is a shame that the government was the only observer not to foresee this. It recently designated 39 localities as real estate speculation areas, recognizing that a quarter of Korean territory has become objects of speculation. The real estate bubble can no longer be blamed on real estate agents or women’s associations at apartments. In the eyes of the people, the root cause of the bubble is the incompetence of a government that is swayed by a handful of speculators.
The functions of territories and cities are settled in a natural manner over a long period of time. Even if we do decide to move public insitutions, we have to start with one or two test projects and expand step by step, studying the effects. Perhaps it is not just the development plan for the Seoul metropolitan area that should be completely reconsidered, but the overall national development plan as well. The government has not even managed to foresee the surge in land prices that came on the heels of its announcement. We wonder whether it has foreseen the side effects that will accompany the relocation of public insitutions en masse.