[EDITORIALS]Balanced development?The selection of locations for new “innovative” cities where public institutions will be moved is in turmoil. In the case of North Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces, as soon as an announcement of selected sites was made, areas that failed to attract a “new city” voiced their opposition to the selected sites. North Jeolla province announced that an area near the city of Jeonju was chosen as the site for a new city, while South Gyeongsang province selected an area near Jinju as a place to build a new city.
The mayor of Iksan, North Jeolla province, shaved his head in protest over the selection of Jeonju as the site for a new city, arguing that selecting an area where the capital of the province is located goes against balanced national development, the whole idea behind the “innovative city” project launched by the government. The city assembly of Gimhae, South Gyeongsang province, argued that the selection process was not fair and declared that the decision was void.
The situation is similar in other areas where a selection has not been made. In the case of Gangwon province, it was decided that a committee responsible for selecting an innovative city will be reorganized while the city of Chuncheon publicly stated its concerns over the selection process, claiming that specific cities were favored. Some members of the selection committee of the city of Ulsan have refused to review the candidates.
Officials from each province have cited their concerns that after the selection of innovative cities, the friction between localities is likely to increase. As it was clear that the interests of each provincial government would clash with those of the others, the current opposition was predictable.
The government’s aim to develop the nation in a balanced way by moving 180 public institutions has in the end only helped to increase the friction between different areas. The decision itself, to use the relocation of public institutions as a tool for a balanced development plan regardless of the specific character of the institution, was flawed. Responding to the government’s logic that public institutions need to be concentrated in one area in a province, the provincial government heads argue that balanced development inside a province is also important.
Considering that the goal of balanced development is being pursued without regard to the efficient management of public institutions and their competitiveness, and has caused increased friction between regions, one has to ask if it is wise to reconsider the whole idea of moving public institutions.