Capital Maneuver

Capital cities are magnets of prosperity to provincial folk across Asia, and Seoul is no exception. The metropolis' population now tops 10 million — one-fifth of the entire population of South Korea — and bureaucrats have pondered vainly for years how to keep Seoul from becoming ever more crowded and expensive. The country's politicians think they have the answer.

When Roh Moo Hyun was vying for the presidency in late 2002, he realized he needed the swing voters of North and South Chungcheong provinces. So he promised to move the country's capital there, some 150 km south of...

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