Controversy over the revision of the Sejong City Project is unlikely to stop for the time being. In January, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan announced a revised master plan for the development of Sejong City following two months of discussions by the Joint Committee. The Lee Myung-bak Administration launched the joint committee to revise the plan after judging that the original Sejong City Plan needed changing. The original plan was made during the Roh Moo-hyun Presidency. Participants in the Joint Committee included specialists and officials from both public and private sectors.
“Korea will throw away approximately five trillion won every year if the nation’s government has to manage ministries in two different cities,” Prime Minister Chung announced. He added, “Therefore, it will not be sage to execute such a risky plan, particularly one that is so unprecedented.”
The revision focused on several important points, including the government’s plan to raise the percentage of city land needed for development. This increase in city land aims to make the city “self-sufficient.” The new plan will turn the old plan of a multifunctional administrative city into an economic city featuring advanced science and good-quality higher education.
Accordingly, the city will be home to companies, universities and research centers. Samsung, Hanwha, Woongjin, Lotte of Korea and Austria’s SSF have agreed to invest a total of 4.5 trillion won and create 23,000 new jobs in the city in South Chungcheong Province, the government said. Furthermore, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Korea University are in agreement with the government regarding the opening of new campuses in the city for their post-graduate science and engineering programs. Seoul National University has yet to decide whether it will open a campus in the new city. The government also plans to add five new freeways to the originally planned four in order to make the city more accessible from other regions.
The new city will also accommodate hospitals, parks and cultural facilities such as libraries, museums and concert halls. The city ultimately aims to contribute to the economic growth of not only the region but also the entire nation. The government also plans to finish the Sejong City project by 2020 in accordance with a new schedule. The original schedule aimed for the project to be completed by 2030.
“During the past two months, the Joint Committee has worked to the best of its capabilities to devise a better plan that had the interests of the nation at heart.” Prime Minister Chung said. In addition, Chung asked people, and in particular the residents of Chungcheong Province, to understand the government’s intentions and cooperate with it to help ensure the success of the new Sejong City project.
In the wake of the announcement by the prime minister, the Democratic Party and the Liberty Forward Party vowed to make the amendment null and void. The main opposition, the Democratic Party, urged the government to stick to the original plan and strongly protested any amendment. The DP even held anti-new plan rallies in South Chungcheong Province and other regions. “The change in the Sejong City Plan will be recorded as a big blemish in the history of Korea,” Rep. Lee Hoi-chang, leader of the LFP, said to reporters.