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Sejong evolving beyond a city for civil servants

June 17, 2024 - 17:01 By Shin Yong-bae
The panoramic view of Government Complex Sejong (Sejong City)

Sejong City, strategically located in the heart of South Chungcheong Province, emerged as a pivotal player in the nation's balanced regional development strategy when it was established in 2012.

Situated approximately 150km south of Seoul, Sejong City shares borders with Daejeon, Gongju, Cheongju, and Cheonan, creating a unique urban landscape in an otherwise rural setting.

Despite its relatively modest population of around 400,000 residents, Sejong City boasts administrative significance comparable to larger provinces and metropolitan cities. This distinction arises from hosting several government ministries that were relocated from Seoul and Gwacheon, earning Sejong its reputation as the "government administration-centered city."

In a saga marked by perseverance and adaptation, Sejong City, now 12 years old, stands as a testament to overcoming obstacles and flourishing against the odds.

Born out of a vision proposed by the late President Roh Moo-hyun in 2003 to relocate the nation's capital to Sejong, the city's journey was fraught with challenges that reshaped its trajectory.

The ambitious proposal to shift the capital faced a significant setback in 2004 when the Constitutional Court delivered a verdict deeming the relocation unconstitutional.

The ensuing political turmoil and impassioned debates within political circles forced a recalibration of the original plan, leading to the transformation of Sejong from a potential capital city to a dynamic administrative hub.

Over the past decade, Sejong City has undergone a metamorphosis propelled by the central government's decision to relocate key ministries to the area.

The once sprawling farmlands have given way to modern amenities, including new residential complexes, public infrastructure, transportation networks and green spaces, redefining the city's landscape and fostering a vision of progress.

Presently, Sejong City stands as a nucleus of governance, hosting 45 government ministries, agencies and associated institutions, as well as 16 state-run research centers. Plans to establish the city as the site of the second presidential office and a regional branch of the National Assembly signify its growing significance on the national stage.

The city's appeal extends beyond its administrative prowess, drawing a growing number of travelers eager to explore its cultural and natural attractions. From the lush Sejong National Arboretum to the picturesque Sejong Lake Park, visitors revel in the city's charm and attractions, including the Guinness World Record-holding rooftop garden atop government complex buildings and the historic Presidential Archives.

As Sejong City continues to evolve and thrive, its story remains a testament to resilience, adaptability, and growth in the face of challenges, serving as an inspiring example of transformation and progress.