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South Korea Opens New Government Hub

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik (C) shakes hands with guests during a launch ceremony in Sejong City, south of Seoul, July 2, 2012.
South Korea has inaugurated a new city the government hopes will help ease congestion in the capital and provide more balanced development.

At a ceremony Monday, officials marked the opening of Sejong City, an area 120 kilometers south of Seoul that will bring 10,000 government workers by 2014.

The government plans to move 16 ministries and 20 other agencies to Sejong during the next two years, including the prime minister's office and the government broadcasting service.

Critics of the project, first proposed in 2002, have questioned the efficiency of splitting the government between two cities.

Sejong currently has a population of about 120,000, and the government expects that to grow to 300,000 by 2020, and half a million people when construction is complete in 2030. By comparison, Seoul is home to about 10 million of the country's 49 million people.

Former president Roh Moo-hyun wanted to make Sejong the country's new capital, but in 2004 South Korea's constitutional court ruled against the plan.

His successor, President Lee Myung-bak, tried unsuccessfully to scale down the project and instead make it a science and technology hub.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.