Top politicians push to move National Assembly, Blue House to Sejong
Top politicians of the ruling party on Tuesday continued pushing the idea that the National Assembly and Blue House must be moved from Seoul to Sejong City as the government frantically tries to curb housing prices in the overcrowded capital.
“To spur balanced development of the country, we need to seriously think about the need to complete an administrative capital city,” Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, floor leader of the Democratic Party (DP), said during a party meeting Tuesday morning.
Kim was reiterating his proposal that the legislature, the Blue House and other government offices must relocate to Sejong City. He unexpectedly revisited the proposal at the National Assembly on Monday, stressing that the relocation will resolve problems of severe urbanization and real estate issues.
In 2004, President Roh Moo-hyun has pushed forward an ambitious project to relocate the nation’s capital city to a new location in Chungcheong Province. The Constitutional Court, however, struck down the special law to establish the new administrative capital.
“That Seoul is the capital of our nation is unwritten constitutional custom, and, therefore, retains its effect as constitutional law unless invalidated by establishment of a new constitutional provision ordaining a new capital through the constitutional revision procedure,” the court said at the time.
The Roh government subsequently revised the plan and developed the Sejong Special Autonomous City in the heart of the Chungcheong region in 2005 and relocated some of the government offices — but not the National Assembly, the Blue House or other key ministries such as the Foreign Ministry.
“Depending on changes of time, constitutional custom can also change,” Kim said Tuesday. “We can complete the administrative capital when the ruling and opposition parties strike a deal to revise the law governing the administrative city.”
Kim, then, proposed that the opposition parties establish a special committee to discuss the project.
Rep. Lee Nak-yon, former prime minister and a presidential frontrunner of the DP, also backed the plan. “The ruling and opposition parties can strike a deal,” he said in an interview with MBC Radio on Tuesday. “Or we can ask the Constitutional Court again about its opinion.”
Kim Boo-kyum, former lawmaker and ex-minister of interior and safety, told YTN Radio on Tuesday that Seoul has become a competitive cosmopolitan city, and the country needs to think about next steps to develop other regions.
“I actively support this plan,” he said.
South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Kyoung-soo, a key associate of President Moon Jae-in, also told reporters Tuesday that he is backing the project, after meeting with National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug.
“Building an administrative capital city was strongly pushed forward by the late President Roh when he was in office,” Kim, who served various posts in the Roh Blue House and worked as the former president’s secretary after his term, said.
“At the time, the National Assembly and the Blue House were supposed to relocate, but the Constitutional Court said the relocation was unconstitutional," he said. "I think the National Assembly must find ways to resolve this by legislating laws.”
Speaker Park also stressed balanced regional development during his meeting with Kim.
“The capital region occupies only 11.8 percent of the country’s land, but the majority of the population is living here,” he said. “The overpopulation produced various problems. If the National Assembly moves to Sejong, it will lead balanced national development.”
In an interview with CBS Radio, Rep. Kim Doo-kwan of the DP said lawmakers must pass a new bill to push forward the relocation project.
“Some say that the Constitution must be amended to relocate the administrative capital, but I believe there are other legal ways,” he said.
Kim served as the minister of administration and autonomy in the Roh government in 2003. He was one of the main architects of the ambitious administrative capital project.
“We want the new law to be judged by the Constitutional Court," he added. "It won’t be easy, but the Constitutional Court reflects the zeitgeist of laws, so I believe there can be a different conclusion.”
He said the Constitution must be changed if the Constitutional Court strikes down another plan.
“We need over 200 votes, so we must persuade the largest opposition party,” he said.
The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) said the plan is unconstitutional.
“The DP is trying to distract the people from the skyrocketing housing prices in the capital region using the administrative capital issue,” Rep. Joo Ho-young, floor leader of the UFP, said. “If they have plans to develop Sejong further, instead of relocating the administrative capital, we are willing to talk about options permitted within the legal boundary.”
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]