[VIEWPOINT]Sometimes the tortoise wins

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[VIEWPOINT]Sometimes the tortoise wins

It’s hard to imagine anyone arguing against the idea of “balanced development,” but adopting a policy of balanced development has produced inconsistent and surprising results. Among them, excessive expectations and a hasty search for results are some of the most serious problems.
The heads of local governments together with the residents they serve are competing to take advantage of the overheated development environment. Developers are encouraging local residents to push their political representatives to act fast to feed the developmental fever. As a result, the country has become a construction site.
To boost regional growth as quickly as possible, every feature of life has become a tourist attraction. Thus, festivals of no character are produced all over the place. Unproductive competitions among neighboring regions lead to ineffective financial investments and even hurt neighboring regions’ identities. These self-destructive competitions are exacerbated by the government’s policy, which is to support the region that wins. The call for cooperation among neighboring local authorities has become nothing more than lip-service.
Besides, most of the population indexes, used in the development plans of local authorities, were drawn up too quickly based on wishful thinking and even the financial plans are full of hypotheses. Accumulating all the population indexes used in the development plans would result in a population total that exceeds the real number several times over. Moreover, the benefits from developments usually belong to a small number of influential people in the region or investors from other regions, not to the local residents.
The components of a good residential plan are jobs, education and culture. However, developments are focused on the construction of apartment buildings that have nothing to do with the true level of supply and demand. Meanwhile, investment in culture, arts, education and jobs is rare.
The price of land, increased regardless of its productivity, hinders regional development. Clean air has been one of the main comforts for rural residents. But that has already begun to disappear.
Balanced development for the country is a must, yet not in the damaging way it has been pursued thus far.
Slow perseverance is said to have disappeared in the course of the rapid economic growth seen during the last century. Nevertheless that seems to be the only way to break this cycle. Though moving slowly is not the same as moving thoughtfully, we know from experience that always trying to expedite does not mean our goals are reached more easily.
Let’s check our plans to see whether they have unnoticed defects before executing them.

*The writer is a professor of architecture at Kangwon National University. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Park Kyung-rip
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