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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 August, 2004, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
S Korea chooses new capital site
South Korea has chosen a site in central South Chungchong province to house its new capital city.

"The Yeongi-Kongju area has been selected as the site for a new capital," Prime Minister Lee Hai-chan said in a live national broadcast.

Construction of the new capital, which has not yet been named, is due to begin in 2007 and be completed by 2030.

The $45bn move is designed to reduce Seoul's overcrowding and economic dominance over the rest of South Korea.

Government and administrative functions will be moved to the new city, and possibly parliament and the supreme court, although any sizable relocation is not expected to happen until 2012.

South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun
President Roh made the relocation plan a key part of his manifesto
The location of the new capital was chosen ahead of three other candidates, Eumseong/Jincheon in North Chungchong province, and Chonan and Kongju/Nonsan, both in South Chungchong province.

"The new capital site was found to be the best among the candidate locations in terms of potential contribution to the nation's balanced regional development, ease of access and living environment," Mr Lee was quoted as saying in the Korea Times.

Mr Lee said land purchases would begin next year on the 7,100 hectare (17,540 acre) site.

Political issue

President Roh Moo-hyun has made moving the capital one of the core objectives of his term in office, and it fulfils a campaign pledge he made before elections in 2002.

He insists the move is key to the decentralisation of the country, and more balanced regional development.

But opposition parties have called for a referendum, saying Mr Roh's plans go further than originally announced.

The Grand National Party said in a statement that the plan should be reconsidered, and was against the will of the public.

The relocation still faces legal obstacles, and civic groups have launched a constitutional appeal.

But Mr Lee said that suspending the move would go against democratic principles, since it had the backing of parliament.

Your comments:

As an ex-Pat living and working in Seoul I welcome this new move by Mr Roh. Seoul is a great city and will always be the center of South Korea, just like New York is to America. South Korea needs this to happen as it attempts to decentralise and share Seoul's influence to the rest of the country...
Andrew Layland, Seoul

Seoul was always a difficult place to get in and out of and the traffic was gridlocked. So this move is a sensible thing to do. The question is the Airport. Seoul invested a fortune on a new Airport at Inchon, will they now need to build another?
John Murray, Canada

I think the reasons for transferring are:
1. Seoul is too close to the boundary. People had concerns about the potential threat from their northern neighbour.
2. Seoul is over-crowded, which brings lots of problem, for example, security of central government and officers.
3. Seoul's name similar to "Han City", and Han means the Chinese nation, so it is also a reason to think about, because the Korean government try to get rid of traces of either Chinese or Japanese in their land and culture.
Bill Ning, Hamburg, Germany

What a horrible waste of time, money, and resources!
John Palchak, Pittsburgh, USA
What a horrible waste of time, money, and resources! With all of the problems in the world today generally, and the DRPK in particular, is THIS what the ROK's politicians believe is important? If $45bn can be tossed away in a ridiculous project like this, clearly the ROK has the wherewithal to defend itself
John Palchak, Pittsburgh, USA

Ultimately I that doubt relocating the administrative capital will solve the concerns of Seoul's issues of overcrowding, economic hegemony and its precarious vulnerability (real or perceived) in being so close to the North Korean border. More likely than not you expect a continuous urban conurbation developing between Seoul and central South Chungchong province. This would merely delay further resentment from the rest of South Korea and prove to be a spectacularly unwise investment that, rather like Malaysia's ostentatious and costly Putrajaya, will be paid for by future generations of South Koreans.
Peter, Fukuoka, Japan

Koreans should use the land more efficiently
Ko Yu-li, Seoul, South Korea
It will be successful. South Korea has a big population while the land is small (the density of population is 463/km2). Therefore, Koreans should use the land more efficiently than any other countries. However, more than a quarter of the total population is concentrated in the Metropolitan area, because political, economical and educational functions have been centralized since the Korean economy started to grow. It's inefficient for the other three quarters of South Korea's population.
Ko Yu-li, Seoul, South Korea

There are so many more pressing concerns facing South Korea, such as reform of the legal code and judicial procedures, educational and political reform. This sort of issue is paltry in comparison to them.
R. Elgin, Seoul, South Korea

I think its a good step to relocate the capital, it shows Korea's determination and economic aspirations. However, Korea is currently in economic crisis, so this would probably not be right investment in light of current situations.
Jon, London & Seoul

Seoul is not the most enjoyable of place to visit, with 24H traffic jams and smog hanging over the city. But I wonder, does the fact that North Korea has half a million missiles aimed at Seoul have anything to do with this?
Andrew, London

S Korea in search for new Seoul
15 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific

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