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Sejong makes 2nd National Assembly its top priority

Jan 04,2019
Sejong kicked off a scheme on Thursday aimed at ensuring a second National Assembly building is built in the city as part of its plan to become the administrative capital of Korea.

“We will work towards completing the task of building Korea’s administrative capital by installing branches of the National Assembly and presidential office in Sejong,” said the city’s mayor Lee Choon-hee Thursday as he unveiled Sejong’s major plans for 2019. “We plan to reignite talks about [enshrining Sejong as the administrative capital] in the Constitution through debates in the legislature and public opinion polls.”

According to the Sejong city government, 1 billion won ($887,210) were set aside in the national government’s budget for 2019 to design the national legislature’s second building in Sejong.

The National Assembly Secretariat also opened up a bidding process to select the private research firms that will be tasked with planning the construction and administrative preparations necessary for the project. Three areas in Sejong have already been marked as potential sites for the new building. The most likely candidate is the 393,000-square-meter (97-acre) space in front of the prime minister’s office in the city. This space is similar in area to the National Assembly’s main building in Yeouido, western Seoul. City officials in Sejong also hope to install a branch of the Blue House in the city in coordination with President Moon Jae-in’s campaign promise to move the president’s office out of its secluded grounds and closer to the public.

“If a second Blue House office is built in Sejong, its prestige as the de facto administrative capital will be secured,” said Lee.

The Ministry of Interior and Safety and the Ministry of Science and ICT are also both slated to move their offices to Sejong this February and September, respectively. While the Interior Ministry’s 1,179 employees and the Science Ministry’s 987 workers will have to move into temporary offices rented from private owners for now, a new 371 billion-won government building in Sejong will be completed by 2021 to house the two ministries.

The Sejong Special Autonomous City was developed to alleviate the intense population burden in the capital of Seoul and move the country’s administrative center to a location more central to South Korea. While most government agencies have already relocated to the city in the heart of the Chungcheong region, political controversy continues to surround attempts to revise the Constitution to officially designate the city as Korea’s administrative capital.

BY KIM BANG-HYUN, SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]