How feasible is Sejong City?The National Assembly will vote whether to consent to the nomination for Prime Minister-designate Chung Un-chan next Monday, but an outcome in his favor remains murky due to his skepticism on the contentious project of moving the administrative hub to South Chungcheong, away from in and around the Seoul area. We respect the economist’s unswerving and equivocal commitment to his beliefs even with his potential future at risk.
In the confirmation hearing, Chung emphasized that the new Sejong City must be self-sustained in order for the relocation project to work. “What is the use of moving 10 government departments or five if the city cannot be sustained on its own?” he asked, questioning the feasibility and effectiveness of the plan.
We have repeatedly expressed similar concerns about the Sejong City project. But the problem has been left hanging amid the passive involvement of legislators fearing a backlash from Chungcheong voters.
We are pleased to see somebody in a responsible position raising the matter and inciting public debate. Citing examples from Germany, Chung argued that it would be energy and cost-extortionate for government offices to be scattered to two different places, shifting manpower and documents to and fro.
When an opposition lawmaker suggested that the government stick to the original plan of moving nine ministries and four offices and at the same time find a way for the new administrative city to function on its own, Chung only responded that there could be other courses of action.
In short, he opposes the initial outline.
He said the site can instead house research institutes, enterprises or university campuses, declining to elaborate further.
We cannot afford to delay the matter further. The longer we pause, the more public funds will be wasted financing the ongoing construction to the extent that there will be no turning back. If Chung becomes prime minister, we hope he will brainstorm with other experts to find the best possible alternative and push forward with a new plan.
Lastly, the government should also come forward from the backseat. It should not place the entire onus on the incoming prime minister who comes from the Chungcheong area and watch the event unfold from the sidelines.
The ruling Grand National Party should also feel more responsible and stop sidestepping the problem. It is the ruling party’s duty to command the forefront no matter how uncomfortable and risky it is.
The opposition also should remember it cannot seek political gain over state affairs. It must seriously question what would be the best for the country as well as the Chungcheong region.