A capital mistakeThe decentralization policy, which the government considers to be its top priority, is getting criticized by urban planning and development specialists around the world. They say the policy is ineffective and works against global competitiveness.
At an international seminar on balanced development policies sponsored by Soongsil University, Harry Richardson, a professor of the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California, said, “Britain is focusing on distributing its wealth by using London as the growth engine to help the areas outside London, instead of following a decentralization policy.
“London’s competitiveness is fueling Britain’s second rise as the center of the Western European economy.”
“A dynamic capital region is the growth engine for the nation’s economy,” said Bertrand Renault, a senior researcher at the World Bank.
“Japan completely gave up its plan to move its capital because Tokyo’s competitiveness is important,” said Hiru Ichikawa, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo.
What about us? Korea is still moving toward decentralization, building an administrative capital and moving its government organizations’ headquarters outside Seoul.
Meanwhile, investing in the Seoul metro area has become difficult due to various restrictions and low industrial productivity there. Even that has not convinced companies to move out to provincial regions.
More often than not, they have moved overseas because there are fewer restrictions and it is easier to invest there.
However, the government seems to have decided to completely ignore the advice from renowned foreign scholars who emphasize the competitiveness of the capital and world trends that emphasize global cities.
The competition among cities around the world has become fiercer. If a capital’s competitiveness is weak, the nation’s competitiveness will be, too. That has been proven by many scholars. It is not too late. The government should listen to them.
The government should remember the advice given during the seminar: The size of the administrative capital needs to be reduced and the capital relocation plan should be refocused to creating science and research parks, while the development of the remaining land should be reserved and the indiscriminate relocation of government headquarters rethought.