The uproar over Sejong City reached its peak after the government recently overturned the original plan and announced a blueprint for replacing it, focusing on business, science and education rather than public administration.
The project to transform Sejong City into a second administrative capital was first proposed by the former president Noh Moo-hyun’s government and had been agreed upon by both ruling and opposition parties and passed as a special law in 2005. The argument for Sejong City was that it would balance development of the country through decentralization. In addition to the Sejong City, the former government conducted various regional development plans, including “business cities” and “innovation cities,” across the whole country. Therefore, the revised plan for Sejong City is resulting in claims of regional reverse discrimination.
The issue is now stirring the entire nation, muddled by conflicts of various interests among political/social groups and people on both regional and national levels. All opposition parties are extremely against the revised plan and there is also a crack in the ruling party, with nobody currently able to predict the direction or result of the issue.
Some scholars argue that political and social logic and consideration should come before administrative inefficacy or economical waste. We, however, question what political parties and groups have really done up to now for the people in Chungcheong area as well as the whole nation in stead for their own political concerns and goals. In particular what about the people of Chungcheong? It was political parties and politicians not Chungcheong people who announced and argued that a secondary capital should be built in the Choongchung area. It resulted just from their political consideration that the Chungcheong people have a casting vote on the political map of South Korean politics. Therefore, it must be a political risk for the Lee Myung-bak administration to revise the original plan for Sejong City, causing us to feel an authenticity on the revised plan. Consistency, principles and trust in government policies are of course important. However, a wrong-directed policy due to a pure political interest should be changed when majority of people think it is a wrong decision-making.
The government should not waste time and energy amid the consuming debates among political parties. If these wasteful disputes continue, the government should consider a referendum and quickly call it on the issue. Our nation has not still escaped from the economic difficulty, and G-20 Summit, which Korea will host this year, is just around the corner. We have no time to waste on an internal political game.