Gangnam, Seoul wrangle over development plan

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Gangnam, Seoul wrangle over development plan

Following the settlement of a long-term dispute over the redevelopment of the capital’s largest shantytown, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Gangnam District Office have once again found themselves butting heads over additional construction plans in the southeastern area.

In March, the city government announced that it would expand its development plan for the International Exchange Complex around COEX and the area formerly used by the Korean Electronic Power (Kepco) to include Jamsil Gymnasium, in the neighboring Songpa District.

Gangnam District Office contends, however, that the city government made the decision without first discussing those plans with the district office.

It has also accused the Seoul city government of trying to spend public contributions provided by Hyundai Motor Group as it moves into the Kepco complex.

Hyundai plans to build a 115-story headquarters at the Samseong-dong plot in Gangnam it purchased from Kepco in September for 10.55 trillion won ($9.6 billion).

Shin Yeon-hee, the head of the Gangnam District Office, has argued that those contributions should be spent solely for her district’s residents.

On Monday morning, Shin paid a visit to Deputy Mayor for Administrative Affairs Lee Geon-gi and nearly 30 Gangnam residents wielding headbands and banners, who were gathered on the first floor of City Hall.

Those in the crowd urged Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon to retract the plan, claiming the city government was merely attempting to provide benefits to those unrelated to the project and pointing out that they would be the ones most affected by the construction of Hyundai’s new headquarters.

The Seoul government has refused to budge and held a press conference to express its concern.

“We regret that the governor of Gangnam District felt the need to visit City Hall to protest [the plans] without prior notice,” said Kim In-cheol, a spokesman for the city government.

The 78-year-old Shin met with the deputy mayor on Monday, though she quickly walked out after learning that the city government was reviewing a plan to put a portion of Hyundai’s public contributions toward the renovation of Jamsil Gymnasium, according to Kwon Hae-yun, the leader of the city’s development promotion team who also attended the discussions.

Shin on Monday requested a meeting with Mayor Park, though her demand was denied. She and other protesters stood outside the mayor’s office door before being turned away by city employees.

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