Location in South Korea
|Administrative divisions||1 eup, 10 myeon, 6 dong|
|o Total||940.71 km2 (363.21 sq mi)|
|o Density||124.2/km2 (322/sq mi)|
Gongju was formerly named Ungjin and was the capital of Baekje from AD 475 to 538. In this period, Baekje was under threat from Goguryeo. Goguryeo had overrun the previous capital of Hanseong (modern-day Seoul), which forced Baekje to find a new center of strength.
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 (approximately 120 km or 75 mi south of Seoul) and Yeongi commencing in 2007. A 72.91 square kilometres (18,020 acres) 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 National Assembly 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 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 showed that a slight majority of South Koreans are opposed to the move, both before and after the ruling.
However, late in 2004, the government announced yet another plan that will allow Seoul to be a capital in name only by retaining the Executive Branch, all Legislature Branch, and Judiciary Branch in Seoul, while moving all other branches of government to Gongju. The question remains unresolved to date.