(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 28)

People Power Party (PPP) interim leader Han Dong-hoon on Wednesday announced a plan to move the National Assembly to Sejong City to "complete the transformation of the city into a genuine political and administrative capital of the country," just like Washington, D.C. in the United States. Han cited three reasons: reducing administrative inefficiency, facilitating balanced national development, and revitalizing the local economy. His explanation makes sense. Since the relocation of most government ministries to the city starting 2012, the National Assembly has remained in Seoul, which caused an enormous administrative cost of up to 4 trillion won ($2.96 billion) per year. The relocation will also help ease the excessive population concentration in Seoul and Gyeonggi. But the PPP leader's abrupt announcement with just two weeks left before the April 10 parliamentary elections has some problems. In 2003, former President Roh Moo-hyun passed a special bill aimed at creating "a new administrative capital" to em body his campaign promise of moving the administration, the Blue House and the National Assembly to the city. But the decision was ruled "unconstitutional" by the Constitutional Court the following year, because their relocation went against our "conventional constitution," which defines Seoul as the capital of the country. Since then, the name of the city - the administrative capital - changed into a "multifunctional administrative city." That's why a National Assembly building to be completed in the city by 2031 is still called a "branch" of the legislature in Seoul. According to the Sejong Legislative Branch Construction Act that passed the legislature last October, 11 standing committees and the Special Committee on Budget and Account are supposed to move to Sejong City while six other standing committees will remain in Seoul together with the main hall and the office of the speaker. Given the context, however, Han's remarks suggest the relocation of all government ministries and standing committees in t he legislature to Sejong. That will surely spike a heated debate over a constitutional amendment. Han's sudden announcement of the relocation without building social consensus on the tricky issue is not appropriate. Some pundits linked it to the need for the PPP to draw more votes from the five districts along the Han River, where the party faces uphill battles against the DP, by removing regulations on their development for security concerns. Even if the relocation is well-intended, he must not seek a nearsighted goal. Once the Assembly moves to the city, it cannot return to Seoul even if the need arises, as seen in the past relocation of government ministries. Source: Yonhap News Agency