Saturday, January 31, 2004

yes, but I think it's a wise move

Noh Mu Hyon's been mulling over moving the capital down south. I happen to think it's a great idea because, as things stand, Seoul's not in a pretty place should war break out. Might sound silly, especially if you're convinced that Seoul won't be heavily shelled and/or war will never break out, but I think a southward move can buy the leadership some time in the event of a crisis. What I don't completely understand is why Noh isn't thinking of simply naming a city-- like, say, Pusan-- the new capital. It sounds like he's planning to build this puppy from the ground up. If so, then I can see why the opposition is complaining.

True: just because the national capital moves, this doesn't mean the city's financial and cultural center will shift away from Seoul. Plenty of countries and American states have small capitals overshadowed by more famous cities: Albany/NYC, Tallahassee/Miami, Sacramento/LA, Bern/Geneva, Bonn/Munich, etc. all come to mind.

This from a JoongAng Ilbo article on the subject:

Opposition parties reacted angrily yesterday to a comment by President Roh Moo-hyun that the transfer of the national government out of Seoul would herald an important change in the country's leadership.

In Thursday's event held at Daejeon Government Complex Mr. Roh said, "Moving the administrative capital means a change of the ruling forces." He then added, "If you browse through history books, new leadership moved capitals so that they could take root in a new land, away from the turf of the old leadership."

As late as Jan. 14, Mr. Roh has downplayed the significance of his plan to relocate the capital to an undecided city in the Chungcheong provinces. Aware of public resistance to moving government agencies and the National Assembly out of Seoul, he had stressed that the new administrative capital would be a theme-city with a population of around 500,000.

The changed nuance of Mr. Roh's wording added to the controversy stirred by the venue of the event. His detractors called the event, in which the president unveiled his blueprint of lessening the concentration of business and politics in Seoul and diversifying it to others regions, as a get-out-the-vote function.

If nothing else, I think it's right to keep the leaders out of immediate danger. They don't all have access to Dr. Evil-style spacecraft, after all. But building this from the ground up...?


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