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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
S Korea in search for new Seoul
South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun
The president promised the move in an election pledge
South Korea has announced four candidates to replace Seoul as the nation's capital.

Government and administrative functions will be moved, and possibly parliament and the supreme court.

The potential new sites are all in the centre of the country - it is hoped the move will ease regional rivalry and re-balance Seoul's economic dominance.

But opposition parties have called for a referendum, saying the plans go further than originally announced.

President Roh Moo-hyun confirmed the move on Tuesday.

Map of Seoul and candidates for new South Korean capital
"It is one of the core projects of the participatory government", he told his cabinet according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The decision to move fulfils a campaign pledge made by Mr Roh before elections in 2002.

South Korea is following other nations in choosing its capital through compromise.

Queen Victoria picked Ottawa as Canada's capital after a dispute between various cities, and Canberra became capital of Australia because it was not Melbourne or Sydney.

The four South Korean candidates are Eumseong/Jincheon in North Chungchong province, and Chonan, Yeongi/Kongju and Kongju/Nonsan, all in South Chungchong province.

Canberra, Australia
Brasilia, Brazil
Washington DC, US
Ottawa, Canada
Abuja, Nigeria
The winning candidate will be announced in August, the Presidential Committee on Administrative Capital Relocation announced.

Construction of the new capital, which will house an expected 500,000 people, is scheduled to start in 2007, with relocation due to begin in 2012 and completion in 2030.

A total of 85 government agencies are set to move, though the relocation of the national assembly and supreme court can take place "only after a parliamentary approval", the president said.

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