S Korea opens controversial mini-capital

2012-07-02 12:01


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


  • South Korea
    Accessible yet packed with information, South Korea will appeal to geography students and casual... Now R567.00
    buy now
Sejong City - South Korea on Monday inaugurated a mini-capital to house much of the nation's government, ending a decade of wrangling over a project seen by critics as driven by politics.

About 2 000 residents and dignitaries from Seoul attended the launch of Sejong City, which will cost $19.4bn when completed.

The stated aim is to rebalance national development in a country where Seoul and its satellite cities account for almost half the population, and to ease congestion in the capital area.

"The city... will open a major new era in the history of the country's balanced development," Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik said in a speech.

Sejong City, 120km south of Seoul, will by 2015 house 16 ministries or agencies and 20 central government offices currently located in or near the capital.

More than 10 000 civil servants will work there.

Wooing voters

But about 10 state bodies including the president's office, the foreign ministry, the defence ministry and parliament will stay in Seoul.

Critics say the split government will lead to wasted travelling hours and inefficiency.

Some say the project was largely intended to win votes in the central Chungcheong region, traditionally the home of uncommitted voters wooed by both parties.

"There are worries that the division of central government bodies can cause inefficiency," Kim acknowledged. "We will try hard to quell such concerns and to forge a good balance and co-ordination among the agencies."

The new city, covering 465km², is named after the revered 15th century king who developed Korea's alphabet.

The idea for it came from Roh Moo-Hyun when he was running for president for the main left-leaning party in 2002. He envisaged Sejong as a new national capital, but the constitutional court rejected this in 2004.

Derailed plans

Roh modified his plan, keeping some ministries in Seoul.

Conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office in 2008 and wanted to scale down the project to make it a science, business and education hub instead of a government centre.

But a rebel faction from his own party, lead by his rival Park Geun-Hye, joined the opposition to derail his plans.

Park - a likely leading presidential contender in this December's election - attended Monday's ceremony, while Lee did not.

The government estimates the city's population - currently about 120 000 - will rise to 500 000 by 2030, with its economy expected to grow steadily.

Critics say this is wishful thinking.

Lives changed

The state Board of Audit and Inspection said in February that a lack of private-sector investment was likely and the city could miss the 2030 population target.

"Sejong City will be remembered as a colossal disaster, created by populist politicians afraid of saying no," Cho Dong Keun, an economics professor at Myongji University, said last week.

Local residents were more bullish on Monday, saying many lives had changed for the better thanks to compensation payments for land.

"Sejong City's new start as the world's top-class city," read one of dozens of banners on display, amid hectic construction activity.

"President Roh's dream has finally become reality and so has the longtime wish of the Chungcheong people," said a 61-year-old resident surnamed Lee. "Today is a very happy day for all of us."

Read more on:    south korea

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Device lets disabled people talk through their nose

A device that converts nose breaths into speech will open new doors for people with Parkinson’s or motor neuron disease.


For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Software Developer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Xebec Human Capital PTY LTD

Group Accountant

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Midrand Finance
R250 000 - R300 000 Per Month


Western Cape
Teleresources Cape Town

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Don`t judge so quickly or expect too much, be more accepting and understanding and make space for fun and spontaneity. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.