SEJONG (Yonhap News) ― The city of Sejong in central South Korea is a step closer to becoming the country’s administrative hub as the second phase of government office relocation from Seoul will be completed next week, officials said Monday.
Sejong, some 150 kilometers south of Seoul, was officially designated in 2012 to become a so-called special autonomous city that will house a total of 16 central government ministries and offices as well as 20 subsidiary organizations that were located in or near the capital city of Seoul.
Some 12 government entities including the Finance Ministry were moved to Sejong last year as part of the first phase.
The second stage that began in mid-December, to be completed on Sunday involves six ministries ― trade, education, culture, welfare, labor and veterans affairs ― as well as 10 relevant organizations with 4,888 officials, according to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat.
It is expected to bring the total number of public servants in the year-old administrative city to around 10,000.
“The government will strive to take the second phase of the relocation to the Sejong complex as a chance to open an era of balance and coexistence where all provinces of the country experience development,” Prime Minister Chung Hong-won said during a ceremony marking the movement.
Citing concerns over administrative inefficiency by splitting government offices between Seoul and Sejong, Chung vowed extended support early on.
The third and final relocation plan will be completed in 2014, with four more government agencies and 13 state-run institutes set to be moved to the central part of the country, according to the office.
But several key offices such as the presidential office, the National Assembly, and the foreign, unification and defense ministries will not be moving to the new city.
“I am planning to preside over more meetings in the Sejong complex such as the weekly Cabinet meeting ... We have to make a new administrative culture by making the most of the e-government infrastructure,” Chung added.
The relocation project is nearing fruition some 10 years after liberal presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun proposed to set up a new administrative capital with an aim to ease overcrowding in the Seoul region ― where a fifth of the country’s 50 million population reside ― and also promote a balanced development in the regionally divided country.
After the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the nation’s capital should remain in Seoul, however, the Roh government modified its plan and rebranded Sejong as an administrative hub rather than the new capital.
The city is named after King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), who invented Hangeul, or the Korean alphabet.
The government complex in downtown Seoul and Gwacheon, a southern Seoul suburb, will continue to be home to several government offices, including those of the foreign, unification and justice ministries, and of other agencies that have been located outside the buildings due to space constraints. (Yonhap News)