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What Koreans Are Saying on the Sejong City Dispute

Posted February. 16, 2010 09:01,   


Members of the ruling and opposition parties spoke to people on the dispute over the revision of the Sejong City project over the Lunar New Year holiday.

Lawmakers told The Dong-A Ilbo the opinions they gathered over the weekend, with the responses differing according to political faction, party and region.

Lee Myung-soo, a lawmaker of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party elected in Asan, South Chungcheong Province, said, “The majority believe that the government is doing the wrong thing and that the revised bill is a problem, but they say what’s worse is the process the bill was passed.”

Woo Jae-chang of the main opposition Democratic Party, who was elected in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, said, “People thought revising the Sejong City bill was impossible.”

Lee Jung-hyun, a supporter of the pro-Park Geun-hye faction of the ruling Grand National Party who got his parliamentary seat via the proportional representation system, visited his native region of Gokseong and Gwangju of South Jeolla Province.

“I got the impression that people thought the efforts of the Lee Myung-bak administration in the Jeolla provinces, such as the Saemangeum project, the Honam High-speed Railway and the 2012 Yeosu World Expo, were in vain because of the attempt to cancel the Sejong City project,” he said.

Shim Jae-cheol, a ruling party lawmaker loyal to President Lee elected in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province, said, “I was told that former party leader Park Geun-hye is too strongly pushing for the original plan for Sejong City, with people asking what’s wrong with her.”

Another pro-President Lee lawmaker Kim Young-woo, who was elected in the Pocheon-Yeoncheon region of Gyeonggi Province, said, “People in northern Gyeonggi Province asked why government agencies should move south (Sejong), not north?”

Kim Gi-hun, a ruling party lawmaker elected in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang Province, said, “Many people said they should help the president apparently because their region is not directly related to Sejong City.”

On the ruling party’s internal feud over the “burglar” comparison made by Park before the holidays, Yoo Gi-joon, a pro-Park lawmaker from Busan, said, “Busan residents are neutral over Sejong, but many want the party to stop fighting.”

Another pro-Park lawmaker, Seo Sang-gi of Daegu, said, “Many said they often saw both the ruling and opposition parties fighting each other, but why within the party?”

Lee Jung-hyun said, however, “Isn’t it healthier to have differing views than to move in unison?”

Shim added, however, “Many said President Lee must embrace Park.”

Democratic Party lawmaker Jun Byung-hun of Seoul said, “It seems burglars stole all the demand in the Lunar New Year holiday. The main street economy is almost dead due to the failure of the four-river restoration project.”

The ruling party’s Park Min-sik of Busan said, “Many people still have many concerns and say the economy remains bad, but I feel the economy is better than it was last year and the year before.”

Both ruling and opposition lawmakers cautiously mentioned their prospects for the June 2 local elections. Democratic Party lawmaker Park Joo-seon (Gwangju) said, “Many have criticized the Democratic Party, saying that it’s only busy following the Grand National Party or that the Democratic Party needs new and good figures.”

Lee Myung-soo also warned of the appearance of a new party, saying, “If former lawmaker Sim Dae-pyeong forms his own party in the Chungcheong provinces, votes will be divided (by his party and the Liberty Forward Party).”

kimkihy@donga.com polaris@donga.com