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[Editorial] New Capital Up For Grabs

Posted April. 18, 2003 22:16,   


In a campaign speech for the Millennium Democrat candidate running for the Gongju City mayoral office, Chairman Chyung Dai-chul stated, "Gongju would probably accommodate the new national capital." His statement plainly demonstrates the possibility that political interests will play a huge role in determining the site for the new national capital. In other words, the chairman of the ruling party has indicated that it is okay to use the issue as a means of gaining voters. The wrangling is likely to continue in South Chungcheong Province in anticipation of the upcoming general elections next year.

All congressmen from the region have already begun to put out feelers. They believe that the "venue issue" will decisively determine the election’s outcome. For example, Grand National Party representatives from Chungcheong opposed the move. Now, however, they are reacting positively and maneuvering energetically to collect information on the matter. Thus, the venue issue may turn into a war of political lines. In the process, real estate prices will skyrocket in a region to be put on the candidate site list. But the worst comes later. When excluded at the end however, residents of those regions may be negatively affected.

During his campaign, President Roh pledged to select the venue that would serve as the new national capital by the end of his first year in office (i.e., February, 2004). But the Roh administration has stealthily postponed selection until late next year. That is why quite a number of political commentators and experts doubt the real intent of the administration. They suspect that the administration is conspiring to use the issue to gain votes. Simply, the sooner the selection is made, the less confusion we will face. At the very least, we should choose a new site prior to the general election. That way, we can exclude political interests from distorting the selection procedure.

Furthermore, a public consensus has not yet been established for the issue. Too many people are voicing too many opinions. In addition, President Roh, as a candidate, promised to decide the matter through referendum. Thus, he should keep his word. Winning a presidential election does not mean that South Koreans okayed his pursuing this particular agenda. President Roh should first let us know how moving the capital might relieve population density problems in Seoul, and how his administration will pay the astronomical costs for moving the capital.

Rather than coming up with persuasive answers to these questions, senior members of the ruling party began to use the issue for vote-winning purposes. If this continues, we will see an explosion of candidate sites come time for the general elections next year.