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Matt Rosenberg

South Korea Building New Capital City

By August 24, 2012

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South Korea FlagIn a plan that current President Lee Myung-bak calls "paralyzing," South Korea is nonetheless building a new capital city of Sejong 75 miles south of Seoul. As the first wave of government officials move to Sejong this month, the new capital is expected to be home to half a million people by 2030 . Sixteen ministries and central agencies (including the office of the prime minister) will be moving to Sejong by 2014. However, parliament, several key ministries, and the president's residence will remain in Seoul.  Therefore South Korea will soon join the list of countries with multiple capital cities. The Washington Post has a thorough article on the development of Sejong.


August 27, 2012 at 4:34 am
(1) Robbie Hildred says:

I find “capitals” to be a little confusing.
Surely, the only true Capital is the “Constitutional” or “de-jure” or “political capital”.

The so-called “Administrative” or “de facto” capital is a totally unofficial concept, which should be treated with a large pinch of salt.

For example, If you are asked “What is the capital of the Netherlands?” and you reply “The Hague”, You are wrong!, because the capital of the Netherlands is (as decreed by the government) Amsterdam.

Equally, many US states have smallish cities declared as their constitutional capitals… but we don’t contend that (e.g.) Rhode Island has two capital cities: Providence as the constitutional capital and Newport as the Administrative capital, do we?

So personally, I feel that Sejong is now the proper new “capital” of South Korea (assuming that it has already been decreed as such) and Seoul is no longer the capital. … but perhaps I’m missing the point somewhere (?)

August 27, 2012 at 10:23 am
(2) Sharon says:

I believe they keep changing capitals so that it keeps us on our toes and of course all the atlases must be changed. They should just leave it alone!

August 27, 2012 at 10:46 am
(3) John Oshei says:

The reason for having two capitals probably originates from a vigorous enforcement of the separation of branches of govt, either by constitutional ways (like South Africa or Bolivia) or by a regime wanting to distance itself so as to gain power (such as Nigeria).

The U.S. states of Kentucky and Illinois are other examples of administrative and constitutional capital cities. In Kentucky, Frankfurt is a small town with hardly anything in it; Lexington or Louisville are more populated cities. In Illinois, of course, Springfield in the south is the capital but I assume, like in “The Good Wife”, government offices are present in Chicago as well.

In all cases, despite my Libertarian position, all government offices should be in one place, so as to cut taxes and avoid duplication or “thrice-plication” of maintenance taxes.

August 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm
(4) Paul says:

As somebody who lived in South Korea for two years (within the last ten years), I opine that South Korea needs a new capital for two primary reasons. First, Seoul is far more congested than any American city I’ve ever been in (including D.C., New York, and Seattle). Even though Korea is very good at moving masses of people, travel still grinds to two hours for ten miles at shockingly frequent intervals. Second, Seoul is within range of about a third of all the world’s artillery barrels. Additional distance from the DMZ can only help continuity by making Kim’s threatened “sea of fire” harder to accomplish. South Korea has real and significant reasons for moving the capital out of Seoul, and even to physically disperse some of the governmental functions and leaderhsips. I applaud South Korea for not just being one of the few USA allies that shouldered the lion’s share of their own defense throughout the Cold War and since, but also for the the wisdom to fix a terrible situation of having had too much in Seoul.

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