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Yeongi-Gongju Favored for New Capital Site

Posted July. 04, 2004 22:08,   


The results of the evaluation of the candidate sites for the capital relocation will be announced today.

The Presidential Committee on Administrative Capital Relocation revealed yesterday that it would confirm the results of the evaluation of the four candidate sites during the fourth council held at the central government complex in Sejong-ro, and make them public at a press briefing afterward.

The candidate sites are Umsong-Jincheon in North Chungchong Province and Cheonan, Yeongi-Gongju and Gongju-Nonsan in South Chungchong Province.

The committee plans to hold five public hearings around the nation after releasing the evaluation results, to be followed by a final announcement on the site for the new capital sometime next month.

“The site that gets a high grade in this evaluation is highly likely to be selected,” said Lee Chun-hee, deputy head of the commission for new administrative capital construction.

Many specialists said Yeongi-Gongju is likely to get the highest grade, although a number of variables make predictions difficult.

The 80-member evaluation committee conducted its work on the candidate sites from June 21 to 26 at the training institute of the Korea Land Corporation at Daejeon, and the results are being kept sealed.

The evaluation is based on five criteria: a balanced national development effect; accessibility from the inside and outside of the country; influence on surrounding environment; natural conditions as life grounds; and costs of development and economical efficiency.

The prediction prevails that the site getting high marks for a balanced national development effect is likely to be selected, because that is the most heavily weighted criterion.

Prior to the release of the results, meanwhile, it was pointed out at a seminar held by Opinion Leaders Program (OLP) of Sogang University that capital relocation might be planned in relation to a South-North Korean federal system.

“The concept of an administrative capital is meaningless and construction of an administrative capital actually means relocation of capital,” said Choi Sang-chul, a professor at Seoul National University and leader of anti-capital relocation civic group. Choi even suspected that the new administrative capital relocation may be a preparation for South-North Korea federal system on the assumption that South Korean capital is Chungchong Province and North Korean is Pyongyang. He added, “The administrative capital relocation planned by former President Park Chung-hee’s government was a provisional relocation, which took national security into account.” Against Choi, Lee Chun-hee refuted, “The provisional administrative capital was not called a capital but an administrative capital at that time even though President Park was scheduled to move to it. The new administrative capital relocation was intended for restraint of centralization in the Metropolitan area and balanced national development.”

In addition, Lee argued, under the premise that it is his personal opinion, that an administrative capital is necessary in preparation for unification because the centralization in the Metropolitan area should be solved even after the unification.

Eun-Woo Lee Joong-Hyun Park libra@donga.com sanjuck@donga.com