For Kim Joo-tak and Noh Geon-hwi, Seoul represents two sides of money: one is the promise of a rich life, the other is “terrifying” inequality.
The vast majority of young people and families from all over the country move to the Seoul metropolitan area – including Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon – to find jobs, to enjoy modern education and opportunities for reform. their quality of life.
Home to the country’s best schools and workplaces, the metropolitan area is home to the headquarters of 14 Fortune 500 companies.the largest enterprises in the world), including Samsung and LG, the term “In-Seoul” is used to highlight distinction and excellence.
For some people – for example Kim – promises of jobs, relationships and social life – make moving here a sensible choice. But for others – like Noh – the capital’s problems include air pollution, skyrocketing housing prices and economic inequality worsening, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For Noh, running away is the only option right now.
Although Seoul is a city that welcomes the opportunities and possibilities for advancement, it still brings a feeling of despair that the government is not making much effort to make a better life. This city remains home to the lowest birth rate and highest suicide rate in the world.
Kim -27 years old – was unemployed and lived with his parents in Mungyeong City, before he moved to Seoul three years ago in hopes of finding employment in the military or the government. He lives in the suburbs of Ilsan, north of Seoul and spends each day doing various part-time jobs, while studying at a “test preparation facility” to get ready for the entrance test – something may decide the fate of his career.
Living in the capital has caused him to face the problems of the city: Driving a car or taking public transport in the city is miserable, traffic congestion lasts for hours. “People my age can’t live in the city center either, because the prices here are ridiculously expensive,” Kim said. Each month, he pays about $ 360 to rent a house. To rent a house in central Seoul, he will have to pay three times as much. According to Numbeo – a website that compares the cost of living in global cities – Seoul has the third highest apartment price in the world.
Similar to Kim, Noh thought of getting a job video production in Seoul in 2018. However, after a few years of struggle and exhaustion, he surprised his friends when he decided to move to Naju – a city about 285km south of Seoul with more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Here, Noh starts a content production company called NiNaNo Planning. Leaving Seoul, but Noh has not completely escaped the attractiveness of the megacity. The bulk of his company revenue comes from work related to stage design, art directing and industrial design for Seoul-based organizations.
“Most of our contracts are in Seoul, because the universities and the companies that hire us are concentrated in that city,” he admitted. “However, some of the money we made, we invested in this countryside, starting with building a cafe in a secluded place and attracting young people with events that this place never had. “, I said.
Youth Alley – his cafe now attracts young people. With the support of the government, Naju has developed a rural place, becoming a city with a more youthful face, full of restaurants and cafes. “Our goal is to tell young people that all you need to do is enjoy life, and that doesn’t mean you have to live in Seoul or work in a large corporation.”
However, Kim and Noh are just one of the few brave people to “go upstream” to leave Seoul. Young people still yearn to come to Seoul to change their lives. Out of 228 cities in the country, the Korea Employment Information Service has listed 105 cities, counties and districts in areas that are at risk of being “wiped out” within 30 years, by the number of young women (20 to 39 years old) of that region is less than half of the elderly population (aged 65 and over).
Faced with this situation, the Korean government is now working on the idea of moving the administrative capital from Seoul to Sejong – a special self-governing city about 121 kilometers south of Seoul. This idea was launched in 2002, but instead of making Sejong the new administrative capital, the Korean government turned it into a multi-functional administrative city. Construction of the city started in 2007. By 2012, 44 central administrative agencies and 16 national research and development institutes had been relocated to this city.
Currently, Sejong has more than 350,000 residents, but still lacks about 150,000 compared to its target by 2030.
Thuy Linh (According to SCMP)