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Lee`s Acceptance of Roh`s Proposal of One-on-one Televised Debate

Lee`s Acceptance of Roh`s Proposal of One-on-one Televised Debate

Posted December. 12, 2002 22:26,   


The relocation of the administrative capital to the Chungcheong region is emerging as a key issue in the policy debate between Lee Hoi-chang of the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) and Roh Moo-hyun of the pro-government Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) in the run-up to the Dec. 19 presidential election.

In particular, voters have their eye on the question of whether the one-on-one televised debate will be held, as Lee on Dec. 12 accepted the proposal made by Roh to hold a televised debate to talk about the relocation issue.

At a press conference held in the GNP headquarters, Lee said Roh`s campaign pledge to move the administrative capital to the Chungcheong area was a political move to draw votes. He warned that if the government building, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the National Assembly moved to the area, it would result in collapse of land price and housing value in the Seoul metropolitan area, and further set off a chain reaction of individual bankruptcies, more ailing banks and a stock market crash, destabilizing the economy.

He continued, "Even 30 years ago, the then government estimated the relocation cost at 5 trillion won. Therefore, Roh`s argument that 4.5 trillion won would be enough does not make sense. Most experts predict that the relocation will cost at least 40 trillion won."

Instead, Lee suggested an alternative for the development of the Chungcheong area. According to his plan, the development of this area could be promoted by relocation of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Information and Communication, related state-run corporations and their affiliated entities, and encouragement of relocation of conglomerates and start-ups to this area.

In response to Lee`s criticism, Roh said, "If the current situation continues, continued sprawling and overpopulation in the Seoul metropolitan area would lead to runaway housing prices. The movement plan is part of an effort to prevent real estate speculation. Lee is warning against plummeting land prices on behalf of conglomerates."

He also said that the relocation would not cost too much and that it should be done not only for Chungcheong provinces but also for the nation as a whole, that is, balanced regional development.

Jeong Se-gyun of the MDP suggested that presidential candidates should not talk about sensitive issues, such as stock prices, interest rates or foreign exchanges. He even dared the GNP to produce evidence to prove its insistence on a stock market crash.

Yeon-Wook Jung Yong-Gwan Jung jyw11@donga.com yongari@donga.com