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The Chungcheong Area Now

Posted November. 20, 2004 01:36,   


The coming November 21 will be a month from the day the Constitutional Court ruled the Special Law on the Construction of the New Administrative Capital unconstitutional. The Chungcheong area is struggling in the midst of anger and despondency, while the government and the political arena are still not suggesting any clear solutions.

Growing Anger-

At 4:00 p.m. on November 16, at the grand conference room in the provincial office of South Chungcheong Province, Lim Sang-jeon, province councilor of South Chungcheong Province (Yeongi, Chungnam Provincial Council’s chairman of the Special Committee on New Administrative Capital), who was attending the meeting for the formation of “Pan-Chungnam Solidarity for Administrative Capital Relocation,” banged the table, saying, “Why is the fight for re-promoting the relocation of the administrative capital to the Chungcheong area this lukewarm?”

Kim Young-cheon, president of the Artistic and Cultural Organization of Korea, reprimanded, “Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak actively supported the fight against the administrative relocation, but what was the South Chungcheong Province doing?”

Since the Constitutional Court’s ruling, there have been around 40 demonstrations and conferences in the Chungcheong area, mostly in Yeongi and Gongju, the cities that were nominated as the new administrative capitals.

The Emergency Committee for the Administrative Capital Relocation Plan in Yeongi is planning to set November 22 as a “National Decision of Administrative Capital Relocation Day” and hold a large-scale assembly that day at the Jochiwon Station plaza. One official of the Emergency Committee said, “We are scheduling a big assembly around November 27, in the presence of members of the Seoul-residing Chungcheong natives and the people of Chungcheong, such as those from peasant groups.”

Even the local government bodies are busily preparing countermeasures. Governor of South Chungcheong Province Shim Dae-pyung, mayor of Daejeon Yum Hong-chul and governor of North Chungcheong Province Lee won-jong met with President Roh Moo-hyun and Grand National Party leader Park Geun-hye, urging that “the only measure against the unconstitutionality ruling is to re-promote the relocation plan.”

Governor Shim is emphasizing the necessity of a new administrative capital in his visits to universities around North Jeolla Province and Seoul, saying, “A widespread bond of sympathy is important in promoting the administrative capital relocation,”

The Shriveling Economy-

The Chungcheong area’s economy is freezing up. Before the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the economy here was enjoying a “solo rise.”

According to “Economic Trends after the Unconstitutionality Ruling” issued by the Daejeon Branch of the Bank of Korea on November 11, the land value of areas near Yeongi-Gongju, such as Cheongyang and Seocheon, has decreased by about 10~20 percent per pyong. Only Cheonan and Asan are relatively stable due to the operation of the Korean Train Express, extension of the metropolitan subways, and new urban developments.

In the Dunsan area of Seo-gu, Daejeon, sales of apartments, lands, and store have almost completely stopped, and some apartments have been hurriedly put up to sale since the unconstitutionality ruling at prices up to 10 percent lower than the original value. Even the market for newly-built houses have frozen, and companies such as Hanwha have delayed the lotting-out of around 2,800 houses in Daeduk Techno Valley that had been planned for the end of this month.

Even department stores sales in November have fallen 40~50 percent compared to those from the same month last year.

Bankruptcy rates in the North Chungcheong area on October was 0.35 percent, almost twice that of September.

In order to prevent further economic decline, North Chungcheong Province has decided to execute next year’s total budget for regional economy on the first half year.

Civic Group Movements-

The Emergency Meeting on Guarding the Administrative Capital Relocation Plan, a group consisting of citizens of the Chungcheong area, is raising voices of denunciation towards the government and ruling party, Grand National Party, Constitutional Court, main press, and Seoul, while on the other hand holding a “One million signature campaign for the impeachment of the Constitutional Court.”

On this, professor Lee Chang-gi (Daejeon University) of the Pan-national Solidarity for Administrative Capital Relocation asserted, “Instead of denouncing everyone, we should press for solutions from those who have the actual power, the government and the ruling party,” and said, “Before using extreme methods we should try to persuade and earn the sympathy of other regions first.”

Song Jae-bong, executive leader of the Emergency Meeting on Guarding the Administrative Capital Relocation Plan, said, “We predict that the direction of Chungcheong sentiments will depend on the solutions that will be suggested by the political arena. Those solutions are not to violate the rules of regional rights and equal development of land.”