Busan loses maritime ministry

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Busan loses maritime ministry

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Busan citizens hold a rally yesterday in front of the Busan Metropolitan Government headquarters to demand that the ministry for maritime affairs be based in their city. They accused President-elect Park Geun-hye of breaking her campaign promise to put the maritime ministry there. [NEWSIS]

The Park Geun-hye administration’s ministry for maritime affairs will be housed in the new government complex in Sejong City, while her new ministry for future planning and science will be established in Gwacheon near Seoul, a source from the transition team said.

“The maritime and fishery ministry will begin its operations in the government complex in Sejong City because the current Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs is located there,” the source told the JoongAng Ilbo Wednesday. “The new ministry on future planning and science cannot go to Sejong because it has no building there. So it will be housed in Gwacheon. And the National Science and Technology Commission, which will merge into the ministry, was already decided to go to Gwacheon so that was also taken into account.”

The decision to put the maritime and fishery ministry in Sejong City prompted angry reactions from Busan. During her presidential campaign, Park hinted that the ministry could be located in Busan.

During her visit to Pukyong National University in the southern port city in November, journalists asked her if she will revive the maritime ministry and open its office in Busan.

“I am considering that direction,” she said.

Busan residents and civic groups are preparing protests. Civic groups yesterday held a press conference in front of the Busan Metropolitan Government and criticized the president-elect.

“We cannot understand Park’s decision to discard her promise,” they said in a statement. “The new administration made a unilateral decision to house the maritime ministry in Sejong City in violation of the promise to the Busan people and it is a betrayal of the Busan people.”

They said Busan is the best place for the ministry and urged Park to reverse her decision.

Officials at the Busan Metropolitan Government said they were checking whether the ministry is going to Sejong City temporarily because it has no office space in Busan.

Jung Hong-won, Park’s prime minister nominee, was also challenged about the decision at his confirmation hearing yesterday.

Saenuri Representative Lee Jin-bok, a Park loyalist who represents Dongnae District in Busan, said local residents were disappointed and upset.

Jung replied yesterday that it was not Park’s formal pledge to open the ministry in Busan. He also said various reviews showed that Sejong City would be the best location.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security earlier concluded that putting the maritime ministry in Busan would be inefficient due its distance from the Blue House and National Assembly in Seoul and other government ministries in Sejong, sources said.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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