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The Meaning of Building Sejong City and Cases of Relocating the Administrative Capital Abroad

The selection of Sejong Special Autonomous City was the most notable outcome of the 19th general election in Chung Cheong Areas. About 48,000 of 80,000 people voted and they recorded 59.2% turnout. Sejong City was evaluated as showing the highest percentage of voters among area-wide Autonomous Communities. Interest in the election by local residents was boosted because Sejong City had an election for superintendent of education and head of the local government.  Currently, the attention on Sejong City is higher than ever.

 In early 2007, the Government of Republic of Korea decided to create a special administrative district housing nine ministries and four national agencies currently located in Seoul out of part of the present Chungcheongnam-do province, near Daejeon. The new district will be named Sejong Special Autonomous City. The plan for creation of the city arose after the failure of former President Roh Moo-hyun to relocate the national capital from Seoul to the region. The prospective city was named in honor of the Joseon Dynasty King Sejong the Great, the father of Korea's national alphabet. The plan envisages a city with a population of around 500,000. Most parts of administrative functioning will move into the new town.  Sejong City has gained the designation of Multifunctional Administrative City.

 Another main function of Sejong City is that it is a city of carbon neutrality and eco-city.  Fifty-three percent of the city area will be built with parks, a green belt and a waterfront belt.  Officials are trying to perfect the city’s public transit system, its network of bicycle roads and garbage collection.  There will be no telephone poles or billboards. They want to build the city as a townscape with well-designed buildings, attractive public facilities and a beautiful night view of the city. Also it is built for balanced development of national land. Many nations worry about overpopulation in their capital cities and the rich-poor and culture gaps between cities and provinces. There are examples of moving the administrative capital to a different location in many nations.

1.     Washington D.C. in the U.S

Washington D.C is the capital city of the U.S. In the past, the roll of the federal capital in the U.S alternated between places where the Continental Congress was convened, New York and Philadelphia. But for necessity of an everlasting federal capital, Washington D.C was chosen after George Washington who was the first President of the U.S. The basic urban form is Grid-Pattern Land with Capitol Hill as the center.

2.     Ottawa in Canada

Before Ottawa was selected as the federal city of Canada in 1867, Kingston, Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec played a role as federal city. Ottawa is designated as a green belt and serves as an administrative and cultural city. Toronto is mostly for business and industry.

3.     Brasilia in Brazil

Moving the capital project began in 1956 to honor Juscelino Kubitschek’s election pledge.   The capital city moved from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. Brasilia is a very beautiful city and was selected as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987 but has huge national debt, problems of a burgeoning population and environmental problems.

4.     Berlin in Germany

Germany decided to move their capital to Berlin in 1991 right after reunification. But because of a national schism and concerns over financial damage to the former capital city, Bonn, six of fourteen main government departments remain in Bonn and additional government office buildings among the remaining eight are located there.

5.     Three candidates for capital in Japan

The National Assembly of Japan decided to move its administrative capital in 1990 through resolution. Tokyo concentration was seen as a problem. Tochigi, Fukushima, Aichi were selected in 1999.  No national consensus was ever agreed to and financial problems stopped further discussion of changing the capital.

Lee Jung eun,

Reporter

이정은  veevvzzv@naver.com

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