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“Government’s Plan to Create Sejong Special Autonomous City”

“Government’s Plan to Create Sejong Special Autonomous City”

Posted May. 22, 2007 03:22,   


The government announced on May 21 that it will positively consider enacting legislation to establish the “Sejong Special Autonomous City,” which contains a scheme for a multifunctional administrative city.

According to this legislation which will come into effect from July 2010, Sejong City will no longer belong to South Chungcheong Province but instead will have a special status equivalent to that of a metropolitan government with no autonomous district under it. Also, the size of the city will be 297 km² when nine myeons and 90 ris are integrated into the city with the current Yeongi, Gongju, and Cheongwon.

Under the scheme, the city’s population will increase to 150,000 by 2015 and 500,000 by 2030 from the 46,000 expected when people first start to move into the city in 2010.

The government said that “preventing population from concentrating in the Seoul metropolitan area” is the biggest reason for building this multifunctional administrative city. However, many raise questions that creating a city with population of 500,000 by spending 8.5 trillion won will not help decentralize population in the national capital region.

Moreover, the government declared that it will make the multifunctional administrative city into “a self-sufficient city.” Yet, the possibility is high that Sejong City will be run by governmental support even if the city is established as scheduled. In fact, a representative of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) admitted on May 21, “Governmental support for the city will be inevitable as it is expected to have difficulties in standing on its own feet for the time being.” Meanwhile, many suspect that the government decided to give the status of special city to Sejong City, unlike Gwacheon, where most of administrative offices are located, in order to set up a virtual administrative capital while avoiding any violation of the Constitution by the Constitutional Court.

It took six to seven months for the government from the announcement to enactment of the legislation to establish the Jeju Special Autonomous City, which was set up last July, and to upgrade Ulsan to Ulan Metropolitan City in 1996. However, the government has hastened to enact the legislation related to Sejong City from three years prior.

With regard to this issue, South Chungcheong Province governor Lee Wan-koo said, “Although we have complex regional situations, the government apparently rushed to declare the enactment. If someone wants to gain something politically from it, they should give up their evil purpose.”

The MOGAHA and the committee on Multi-functional Administrative City failed to hold a public hearing on “Research on administrative city status and administrative district” without proper promotion, facing strong opposition from Yeongi-gun residents on May 7. Kim Yong-gyo, leader of Administrative City Support, said, “It does not make any sense to pursue legislation as survey results by South Chungcheong Province have yet to be made.”

Worse, there is no agreement among related local governments in the province. This is because if promoted as the government’s plan, the legislation could worsen the status of existing local governments. Under the government’s scheme, Sejong Special Autonomous City, Daejeon Metropolitan City, and South Chungcheong Province should coexist within the South Chungcheong. Because of this, South Chungcheong Province has long insisted that Sejong City be labeled as “a special city under the region.”

Yeongi-gun, where 50 percent of the region will be integrated into Sejong City, is insisting that the rest of the region also be incorporated into the city. Kim Jae-wook, governor of Cheongwon, also held a news conference and said, “When only some of the region is included into the city, the rest of the area will be regulated as neighboring areas and thus regional development will be undermined. Also, as local people are opposing the proposed scheme, the issue over integration of Yeongi-gun into the city should be decided by a vote.”

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