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Developing capital region may cause further inequality in the nation

The Hankyoreh
Developing capital region may cause further inequality in the nation - South Korea - Housing

The Lee Myung-bak government¡¯s policy of concentrating development in the capital region has crossed the line. On the heels of last week¡¯s change in the ¡°capital region metropolitan city plan¡± towards a development focus, an announcement was made Monday that 60 thousand households worth of apartments would be constructed in the green belts or government-designated development restriction zones surrounding Seoul. Such land policy changes require reconsideration as they could result in overpopulation of the capital region and the impoverishment of the provinces

Balanced development of land areas is necessary for South Korea¡¯s overall sustainable development. If development is concentrated solely in the capital region for the sake of expediency and efficiency, it will result in overpopulation in the capital and the devastation of the provinces, side effects that will be difficult to remedy. Given the reality that such side effects have already begun to appear, the obvious thing to do would be to place greater emphasis on development in the provinces rather than in the capital. The opposition parties have a point with their intense criticism of the fact that the Lee administration has overturned its own campaign pledge of ¡°regional development first, capital development later.¡±

These policies of favoritism toward the capital and neglect of the provinces are all too common with the Lee administration. While it strives to do whatever it can to strangle construction projects that were intended to promote regional development, like the Sejong City project, also known as the Multifunctional Administrative City, and regional innovation city developments, it devotes itself to relaxing various restrictions on development of the capital region.

In particular, its plans for green belt destruction and to build additional ¡°new cities¡± in the capital region in places like Misa-ri could not only fan overpopulation in the region, but also generate problems of environmental destruction and pollution of water sources. The development of large-scale new cities would help to some extent increase the housing supply and stimulate the construction economy, but it would also give rise to urban sprawl and lead to excessive density in the capital region. This ultimately will exacerbate the imbalance in the national territory by hollowing out the provinces.

Wreaking large-scale damage on the green belts needs to be reexamined. The government seems to be of the view that some green belt damage is inevitable for the sake of the public good, and cites the intent to construct bogeumjari, low-cost housing for the homeless masses. This makes some sense, however, it is also likely that the administration is offering this pretext, but will build instead expensive housing that will be out of the reach of the working class. If the destruction of green belts is inevitable, its conditions must be strictly limited.



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