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Government begins moving into new administrative city

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) began moving into the newly built city of Sejong Friday, becoming the first government agency to be relocated to the administrative hub in central South Korea.

   Sejong City, some 150 kilometers south of Seoul, came officially into being as a "special autonomous city" in July and will be home to 16 central government ministries and offices as well as 20 subsidiary organizations currently located in or near Seoul. The move to be completed by 2014 involves relocating some 10,000 government officials to the new city.

   The project, first put forward by former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2002, aims to promote balanced regional development and ease overpopulation in Seoul and nearby regions, where a fifth of the country's population of 50 million resides.

   While the city is now in its first stage of construction, some departments of the PMO, including its 140 officials, were the first to relocate and began working there on Monday. This will be followed by the remaining PMO departments with 552 officials along with the ministries of finance, agriculture, environment and land, and the Fair Trade Commission, according to the government.

   It estimates the population in Sejong will grow from 121,000 this year to 300,000 by 2020 and to half a million by 2030, when construction of facilities and infrastructure is expected to be completed.

   "Agencies concerned are required to set up an effective administrative system to minimize inefficiency and costs caused by the relocation and to prevent possible public inconvenience," Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said, while presiding over a policy coordination meeting held earlier in the day.

   Concerns have been raised over administrative inefficiency by splitting government offices between Seoul and Sejong, as the presidential office and the National Assembly, along with the foreign, unification and justice ministries, will not be moving to the new city.

   "The government is also required to take extra care of officials and their family members who will move into the city to adapt to the new environments," Kim added.   

   The PMO said it will hold a ceremony to mark the opening of the new building on Monday, which will be attended by PMO Minister Yim Jong-rong and Sejong Mayor Yu Han-shik, noting that Prime Minister Kim will visit there the following day. (Yonhap News)

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