[Viewpoint] National security favors Seoul‘It makes no sense to divide administrative functions and tear them apart. Dividing administrative functions decisively weakens efficiency.” These were the words of O Won-chul, an economic adviser to former President Park Chung Hee who was considering moving the capital.
President Park actually had plans to move most of the administrative functions, including the Blue House, but they were not carried out because of the judgment that the action could provoke people’s anxiety about security amidst the continuous provocations from the North in the 1960s.
A heated debate was recently stirred when the government announced that it would nullify the plans to make Sejong City an administrative city and look for an alternative.
Opinions both for and against the topic have their own rationales.
It’s a pity, however, that none of the positions include an approach from a national security perspective.
The core of the Sejong City problem should, above all else, be related to national security.
What exactly, then, are Sejong City’s national security issues?
First, administrative facilities should not be divided for effective war commands in case of a national crisis.
Modern war requires all the energy of a nation.
An idea of unified defense where civil, government and military sectors come together as one is applied to war.
Therefore, when faced with the emergency situation of war, all ministers need to think of a solution in a short time, focusing on the commander-in-chief and immediately execute the plans that are devised.
In order to do this, administrative facilities need to be in one place, whether it is Seoul or somewhere else.
Let us take a look back at the transfer of the capital planned by Park Chung Hee.
President Park wanted to move all administrative facilities. But in times of emergency, all ministers and the president were supposed to come to Seoul and command the war.
This is closely related to the unitary right of command most needed during war.
Next, division of administrative facilities to rural areas needs to be revised considering the fact that the capital and its vicinity need to be defended safely, no matter what.
North Korea has 70 percent of its surface military power, 60 percent of its marine power and 40 percent of its air force power forward-deployed south of the “Pyongyang-Wonsan” line.
It also has long-range artillery and scud missiles positioned near the cease-fire line. The North sits waiting for its chance to reach its ultimate goal of communization of the Korean Peninsula.
Therefore, it could be said that safety is comparatively better guaranteed the farther the capital is located from the cease-fire line.
However, this opinion needs to be approached from a different angle.
The closer the capital and the president are to the cease-fire line, the fresher the willpower to fight back.
The sense of crisis that the war ends if the enemy takes over the capital will be imprinted in the hearts of the people and revive the spirit to fight for victory.
Our capital, Seoul, is the heart of Korea. Therefore, all citizens need to become one under the will to absolutely defend the capital.
In order to defend the capital safely, even the idea of a pre-emptive attack before provocation from the enemy needs to be devised.
We have learned from history the catastrophic results when the highest leader of a country is far from the front line.
During the 16th-century Japanese invasion on Korea, King Seonjo washed away the fighting spirit of the people when he escaped to Uiju on the northern tip of the country.
During the Korean War, President Syngman Rhee ended up being pushed back to the Nakdong River defense line because he gave up Seoul too early.
We do not live in an age where the idea of “linear battle” is applied as it was in the past.
We live in an age where three-dimensional and high-speed battles of maneuver are operated with the full mobilization of cutting-edge, high-tech weapons.
It is times like these that especially require the determined will to fight and not retreat.
“The Art of War,” a Chinese military treatise, states, “There are roads that should not be taken.”
For the sake of national security, division of administrative functions is a road that should not be taken.
It is most important to approach the Sejong City issue from a national security perspective. After all, this is what survival of the nation depends upon.
*The writer is the president of the Korean Veterans Association.
Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Park Se-hwan