[ED] Launch of megacity – The Korea Times

[ED] Launch of megacity

First ‘special union’ should put a stop to provincial declines

The union of three local governments ― Busan, Ulsan, and South Gyeongsang Province ― was launched Tuesday as the nation’s first special local government. It refers to the union of multiple local governments to create a single economic and living zone by forming a common government and legislative body supported by the central government. This is a new model for balanced development introduced last October.

More than half of Korea’s population is concentrated in the Seoul metro region, which accounts for only 12 percent of the country’s territory, resulting in traffic and housing chaos. So the “Bu-Ul-Gyeong Special Union” was pushed through consultations among local governments in the nation’s southeastern region to overcome provincial declines and the concentration of the greater Seoul area, which sucks everything ― money, jobs, culture and education ― like a black hole. It aims to grow into one of the eight megacities in Northeast Asia, going shoulder to shoulder with Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Osaka and Nagoya.

Some advanced countries have been building megacities since the 2000s. For example, in Japan, Osaka and Kyoto’s local governments established the Kansai Regional Union to jointly cope with tourism and cultural and medical issues, achieving good results. France implements the “Metropole” system, forming a single municipal community by putting several regions together. The United Kingdom has formed megacities centered on eight metropolitan areas.

The Bu-Ul-Gyeong Special Union aims to increase its population to 10 million by 2040 from 7.9 million today and expand its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) to 491 trillion won from 275 trillion won ($222 billion) over that period. The regional union also seeks to create a wide-area transportation network to build an economic and cultural community where everything is reachable in an hour by focusing on the automobile, shipbuilding, aviation, and logistics industries.

The union will soon elect its government and legislative heads and designate its buildings before starting official business next January. Naturally, some conflicts are expected in this process. However, the special union comes as an alternative plan amid the desperate situation where provinces vanish. The three local governments are responsible for turning it into a success by pooling their wisdom. Also, the incoming administration should not spare support.


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