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Implications: The government may choose to pursue policies with economic framing that attract popular support even if they carry adverse legal precedents. Widespread public backing for the relocation of the capital comes as South Korean citizens express growing frustrations with rising real estate prices in Seoul. In response, the ruling party explicitly advanced the proposal to elevate the political standing of Sejong City as a means to stabilize housing costs in Seoul. Building on the hypothesis that real estate prices in the capital region are weighed down by too much demand, the government also announced new plans to add more units to the housing supply.
Context: The Democratic Party maintains that the relocation of key state institutions to Sejong City is a longstanding policy priority of the progressive wing. Former President Roh Moo-hyun tried to push for a new administrative capital in the Chungcheong region as a way to address South Korea’s growing urban-rural divide. Even though he was unsuccessful in moving the entire central government, Roh managed to relocate most of the ministries and agencies to the newly-founded planned city of Sejong. Also echoing their past positions, the conservative opposition maintains that the relocation of the capital diverts the public’s attention from the government’s housing policy failures.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of James Constant and Sonia Kim.
Picture from flickr user Byeong Min Park