Sejong City plans unfocusedThe government is in danger of aggravating the divide over the Sejong City project as it now focuses on developing a new corporate hub instead of a center for administrative functions.
Its moves to convince companies to relocate to and invest in the area despite their commitments to other locations has raised the ire of many regions and individuals.
We support the government’s plan to create a corporate or research and design hub in Sejong City instead of an administrative center. But officials must be more careful so that they don’t victimize and alienate other areas in the process.
Errors, after all, often result from hastiness and impatience in the name of quick results.
The ambitious project to create a purpose-built city will be of no use if the municipality is created with temporary fixes in mind.
How can the government use Sejong City as an exemplary model of regional development and create a successful corporate hub if it steals away candidates from other areas?
The city was originally designed to house government offices in the capital. Companies that had planned to move into the capital or satellite areas therefore should be the initial targets for development.
One company committed to a medical technology complex in Daegu and a beer factory planned for Gimcheon are said to have changed their direction and are now focused on Sejong.
The city will lack identity and color if it merely measures success by counting the number of corporate employees that work there.
Instead, authorities must first define the concept of the new city and then recruit its corporate inhabitants.
The government also must not exercise any pressure in cajoling companies to set up new business ventures in Sejong.
Companies should be able to decide where they want to build their new ventures and research or production bases on their own, without undue influence from the government.
Coercing companies to build in a specific area can impair corporate and national competitiveness.
The government’s influence should be restrained to providing an attractive environment through subsidies and incentives in land and tax.
Here, too, it should exert discretion so that it does not spark complaints about discrimination from other cities.
The Sejong City debacle looms over the country, but the government must remember that there are many other areas and residents that need equal attention and support.
The government should strive to concoct a plan that is both acceptable and engaging to the entire population, not just a select few.