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Ewha Univ. cancels Paju campus plan

Ewha Womans University, the nation’s most prestigious women’s school, on Friday scrapped its plan to build a campus on the site of a former U.S. military camp in Paju, north of Seoul, citing price issues.

The price of the campus site, owned by the Ministry of Defense, has gone up to a level that the university cannot afford anymore, the university said in a press statement. 
(Yonhap News)
(Yonhap News)

“It seems nearly impossible to narrow the differences with the Defense Ministry over the price of the former Camp Edward site,” it said.

In October 2006, the university had signed an agreement with Gyeonggi Province and Paju city to create a branch on a 219,000 square-meter plot at the former Camp Edward site and 70,000 square meters of adjacent land, also publicly owned.

The price of the Defense Ministry plot was initially estimated at around 29.2 billion won ($27 million), but rose to 65.2 billion won after the announcement of the plan.

“We were willing to pay 65.2 billion won,” the school said.

The Defense Ministry, however, refused to sell the site at that price, insisting that the appraised value was now around 175 billion won.

The Gyeonggi provincial and Paju municipal governments offered to pay the difference in land prices as subsidies to Ewha, but the university decided to walk out of the deal.

“The proposal was to reimburse the difference in subsidies for research and development projects over a number of years,” instead of making a lump-sum payment, the school said.

The nullification infuriated citizens of Paju, who had hoped that the campus would boost the local economy. About 1,500 residents and Mayor Lee In-jae on Friday afternoon held a protest in front of the university in Seoul urging the management to revoke the decision.

“We will seek legal steps because the city government has already poured lots of money into creating the Paju campus,” Cho Chung-sik, vice mayor, told Yonhap News.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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