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Gumi-dong Residents Up In Arms Over Road Construction Dispute

Gumi-dong Residents Up In Arms Over Road Construction Dispute

Posted August. 25, 2004 22:01,   


Enraged Citizens of Gumi-dong–

An agreement signed by Sohn Hak-gyu, the governor of Gyeonggi Province, Lee Dae-yup, the mayor of Seongnam, and Lee Jeong-Moon, the mayor of Yongin, released on August 9 is what has angered the residents of Gumi-dong.

The agreement states that the residents of Gumi agreed on "connecting roads and building additional roads for detours." Also, it stated that the residents will cooperate so that decisions will be made within a month, and each organization will follow whatever is decided by the Minister of Construction and Transportation. It, in fact, states that the residents agreed to have the roads opened first and have the detours built later.

However, the residents are asserting that they never backed down from their stance against opening the road that will connect Chukchon and Bundang, and that this agreement was unfounded. The residents were told about the agreement for the first time on August 24.

The residents protested in front of the house of an official of the Korea Land Corporation (KLC) in Gumi-dong on August 12 and 13, and even got into a physical confrontation with an employee from KLC who was trying to control the crowd.

The Road at Issue—

The whole conflict started as the contractor KLC of Chukchon district, which has 18,500 households, started construction on a seven-meter unopened block that connects the road that runs between Chukchon and Bundang (280m) on June 10, just before the residents moved into the Chuckchon district.

The residents of Gumi-dong blocked the construction site with large crates and heavy equipment to stop the construction and kept watch for 24 hours a day while the KLC tried to resume construction every chance they had.

Amidst the ruckus, 2,759 households have moved into Chukchon district as of now. Currently, the residents of Chukchon district are suffering from having to drive the long way, that takes 30 to 40 minutes to go to Ori-station in Bundang, which should take only 10 minutes via a direct route.

One thousand Chukchon residents even held an assembly at the construction site on August 21 to press for the connection of roads in near future.

One resident of Gumi-dong said, "It is not that we are blocking off Chukchon residents," and added with spite, "Just what is going to happen to our town when all the people who are to move into northwestern area of Yongin, including Dongbaek and Guseong districts, start using this road?"

The Real Culprit: Disorderly Development—

Some suggest that such an unprecedented dispute over a road is the result of pushing ahead with land development without properly preparing for such simple matters as a road.

What the residents of Gumi-dong are demanding is that a bypass be constructed before the connecting road is opened.

The initial plan of the Ministry of Construction and Transportation and the KLC was to connect the expressway that links Dongbaek and Chukchon districts via an overpass. However, this plan was aborted because there are too many tall buildings.

Also, various road construction plans that were presented by the ministry as a solution against traffic problems in the southern parts of the metropolitan area were delayed by a year or two because of objections from local governing bodies.

An official from the city of Seongnam said, "The opposition against opening the connecting road for Chukchon-Bundang, and the demand for a bypass road came up in 2000, and the government and the KLC just looked on and never did anything about the matter," and added, "If the government went ahead quickly with its measures for traffic improvement, such disputes over roads would not have aggravated the population as much.”

Jae-Myoung Lee egija@donga.com