New South Korean 'Mini-Capital' Aims to Rebalance Country's Development

With South Korean officials set to move into their sparkling new "mini capital" next month, Chico Harlan examines plans for the new city that "will either drive growth outside the overpopulated capital or end up as an ill-conceived waste of money."

Not to be confused with New Songdo City, the green business hub outside of Seoul, the plan for $20 billion Sejong City is for the "built-from-scratch bureaucrat's paradise" to help reduce the economic gap between Seoul and the rest of the country. 

With a population expected to reach 500,000 by 2030, Sejong City is intended to function as a mini-capital with 36 governmental ministries and agencies relocating there from Seoul. The plan isn't without its critics though, including former prime minister Chung Un-chan, who believes, "It will be almost paralyzing for government operations." 

According to Harlan, "Politicians have tried, with little success, to feed growth in farther-flung regions, with tax incentives and a plan for 10 "innovation cities" as breeding grounds for industry and private research."

"'There have been, like, 500 policies to help re-balance the country, and they have all failed,' said Yook Dong-il, a professor at Chungnam National University, a 15-minute drive from Sejong. 'But they have all been micro-policies, nothing as big as the plan with Sejong.'"

Thanks to Daniel Lippman

Full Story: With new Sejong City, South Korean government aims to rebalance power

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