Recently, the South Korean government has been planning to launch a relocation project of its National Assembly from Seoul to Sejong Special Self-Governing City. The Sejong municipality announced that an estimated 12.7 billion won was to be included in this year’s national budget for the implementation of the relocation plan.
The government hopes to complete the construction of the new National Assembly building by 2026, and it would be twice the size of the present building in Yeouido, Seoul.
What matters is what benefits it would give to us if the National Assembly is moved to Sejong. Primarily, the administrative inefficiency costs would be dramatically reduced. For example, government officials working at the Government Complex Sejong no longer have to travel all the way to the National Assembly in Seoul because the major legislative offices would be moved to Sejong. According to the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements (KRIHS), up to 3 trillion won would be saved in total, leading to overall savings of around 8 trillion won. Secondly, if the National Assembly is moved to Sejong, it would definitely lead to decentralization of the South Korean government administration. As of right now, most of the governmental power is centralized in Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Thus the decentralization process is crucial as it will allow more chances for regional development as well as more opportunities for minorities to have their political voices.
However, not all agree to this relocation project. Some government officials and politicians, especially those of the opposing People Power Party (PPP), argue that it is too risky to move the National Assembly as it would eventually make around two-thirds of its legislative functions to be transferred to Sejong Special Self-Governing City. Furthermore, some people have suspicions that the purpose of this project would be to turn citizens’ attention from the issue of soaring house prices in Korea. The relocation plan is also raising questions about whether Cheongwadae, the Korean presidential residence, would be moved to Sejong as well. The Democratic Party (DPK) announced that further details of the relocation project would be released subsequently to settle down such criticisms.