Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gongju was formerly named Ungjin (웅진; 熊津) and was the capital of Baekje from AD 475 to 538, during a period when Baekje was under threat from Goguryeo. As a result, the previous capital of Hanseong (modern-day Seoul) having been overrun.
On August 11, 2004, the South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan announced that the country's capital will be moved from Seoul to Gongju and Yeongi commencing in 2007. A 71 km² (17,540 acre) site was chosen for the project, which was scheduled to be completed by 2030. It was envisaged that government and administrative functions will move to the new capital, along with (possibly) the parliament and supreme court, although no sizable relocation was expected until the first phase of the project has been completed by 2012.
The move was intended to reduce Seoul's overcrowding and economic dominance over the rest of South Korea; perhaps not coincidentally, it would have also moved the government and administration out of range of North Korean artillery fire.
The projected cost of the project ranged from $45bn to as much as $94bn.
The plan has aroused controversy, with opposition parties calling for a referendum to see whether it is endorsed by the population. Some civic groups have also launched a constitutional appeal, and on October 21, 2004, the Constitutional Court ruled that the special law for the relocation of the capital is unconstitutional since the relocation is a serious national matter requiring national referendum or revision of the constitution, thus effectively ending the dispute. Opinion polls have shown that a slight majority of South Koreans are opposed to the move, and the polls conducted after the ruling showed similar results.
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