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South Korea announces multi-billion dollar plan for science, education hub

SEOUL -- South Korea's government Monday announced a US$14.6 billion blueprint to develop a new city as a science and education hub, dropping controversial plans to move several ministries there.

The country's biggest business group Samsung has signed a deal to move some operations to Sejong City, along with the Hanwha, Woongjin and Lotte groups, said Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan.

Monday's announcement officially scraps a plan announced in 2005 by then-President Roh Moo-Hyun to relocate nine ministries and four subsidiary agencies to the city 150 kilometers (94 miles) south of Seoul.

Roh's liberal government said the aim was to promote balanced regional development in a country where almost half the population lives in Seoul or surrounding cities.

The plan was also attractive to the Chungcheong region, whose traditionally uncommitted voters have often swung elections.

But the current conservative government decided not to go ahead with it, despite strong opposition within the ruling Grand National Party.

Chung's office said in a statement the previous plan “would have resulted in inefficiency and waste” of national resources.

“The government has decided to create an economic hub centered on education and science in Sejong City with public and private investments of 16.5 trillion won (US$14.6 billion) in total,” Chung said in a statement.

“We expect Sejong will grow into a self-sufficient city with a population of 500,000 with 246,000 new jobs by 2020.”

The city is named after the revered 15th century monarch who invented the country's written alphabet.

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 South Korea announces multi-billion dollar plan for science, education hub 
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, left, walks by an aerial view of Sejong City to announce the government's revised development plan to turn the new city in central South Korea into a business and science hub during a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. (AP)

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