[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Roh rejects poll on moving capital
South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun
The president calls Seoul a drag on development
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has rejected calls for a referendum on his plan to move the capital from Seoul to a province further south.

Mr Roh admitted he had earlier pledged to hold a vote on the issue, but said it was now unnecessary as parliament had since approved the move.

The president plans to build a new administrative capital on one of four, short-listed sites.

The move is designed to reduce Seoul's overcrowding and economic dominance.

"It is not desirable to talk about a referendum," said Mr Roh on Friday.

To propose one now would be to undermine parliament's authority, he said.

Map of Seoul and candidates for new South Korean capital
Mr Roh's remarks came a day after the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) demanded he explain his position on the pledge he made during his campaign for the presidency in December 2000.

"How can the people believe the president if he does not abide by his promise?" GNP spokeswoman Jun Yeo-ok told the Korea Herald newspaper.

Mr Roh said the opposition was trying to sway him, "not with the viability of the capital relocation itself, but with the election campaign pledge".

The GNP has also accused the president of going beyond the scope of the bill, with plans to relocate the National Assembly and the Supreme Court to the new capital.

Despite opposition to the plan, Mr Roh appears extremely eager to push it through, saying he would risk the fate of his administration to implement his major election policies.

The new capital "is one of the core projects of the participatory government" he told his cabinet, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

On Tuesday, the president announced the four candidate locations for the new capital - Eumseong/Jincheon in North Chungchong province, and Chonan, Yeongi/Kongju and Kongju/Nonsan, all in South Chungchong province.

Opinion polls indicate that South Koreans are divided on Mr Roh's proposal.

More than 20 million people live in Seoul and the surrounding area - two-fifths of the population in just 12% of the land space.

The high population density and economic boom in the region "has reached the limit and is a drag on national development", Mr Roh said.

But the government estimates that the capital relocation will cost 45 trillion won ($38.8bn), and critics fear the total cost could be more than double this figure.

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, if the president gets his wish.

S Korea in search for new Seoul
15 Jun 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Sumo returns to Seoul
16 Feb 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Sex museum opens in Seoul
24 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Pigs fly on Seoul subway
20 Dec 02  |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific