Making Sejong City work

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Making Sejong City work

The risks of relocating government offices to Sejong City have been well explored. The Roh Moo-hyun administration pushed ahead with the plan that helped win votes in the presidential election. After the Constitutional Court ruled the move was against the Constitution, the government came up with the alternative idea of moving government offices to the city.

Then President Lee Myung-bak wanted to revise the relocation plan but was stopped by opposition from both ruling and opposition politicians. President Park Geun-hye has steadfastly stood by the plan. As chief of the executive branch and champion of the Sejong City plan, she has an obligation to end confusion among senior officials.

Since Sejong City is already established, the presidential office must bestow appropriate administrative authority on offices there. Cabinet meetings presided over by either the president or the prime minister have all been held in Seoul since the new government took office. The same goes for vice ministerial meetings. The first economic meeting was also held in Seoul.

To address this issue, the presidential office should order that government meetings except for those that need to be chaired by the president or deal with security or foreign affairs should be held in Sejong City. In addition, the prime minister and ministers stationed in Sejong City must be given greater authority.

In January, the government tested the very expensive technology acquired to hold Internet-based conference calls. Attendees were impressed by the audio and video quality, but the new facilities have not been used as frequently as necessary.

In the hierarchical and bureaucratic system of the Korean government, lower-level officials cannot ask to hold video conferences for fear of offending their superiors. The president and prime minister as well as senior presidential secretaries must make frequent use of the video conference technology so that government agencies can take their advice into account during routine discussions.

The presidential office should also set guidelines that govern the Seoul-based offices of ministries from Sejong City.

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