Just like that, Abu Dhabi's Masdar City has some competition. On Monday, South Korean officials announced a $14.6 billion plan for a new self-sufficient city, high-tech hub of education and commerce that will be home to some of Korea's biggest corporate names and centers of higher learning. The so-called Sejong City -- sometimes called by its official name, the Multifunctional Administrative City (MAC) -- aims to create a brand new, 21st century city in Chungcheong Province about 100 miles due south of Seoul by 2020.
The MAC was slated in 2005 to develop into a built-from-scratch city housing nine government ministries and four public agencies (the idea was even floated that it might serve as the capital of a unified Korean state). But as the plan bounced around the bureaucracy, it became apparent to the sitting government that the plan was inefficient from both administrative and economic standpoints. So the scheme was retooled to attract economic and educational investment, sweetening the deal by pursuing a policy of self-sustainability.
On the research side of things, the government is courting the International Science Business Belt and will establish the Korea Rare Isotope Accelerator, the Basic Science Research Institute and the Convergence Research Center at Sejong by 2015. The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Korea University will also establish research campuses at Sejong, investing more than $12 billion between them. On top of that, another $7 billion in public and private funds will go toward scientific endeavors.
Sejong has also attracted Korean household names like Hanwha, Woongjin, Lotte and of course Samsung. The Korean electronics giant will locate five affiliate businesses at Sejong, including Samsung Electronics and Samsung LED, focusing on the development of solar power, fuel cells, LEDs and biotech. So far, private sector businesses alone have agreed to hire nearly 23,000 employees in Sejong by 2020, with the overarching goal of creating a quarter million jobs.
To be fair, Sejong is not aiming to become another Masdar, which plans to cover just 2.3 square miles and house just 50,000 residents. Masdar will be more or less a small, model super-city tapping the existing workforce in nearby Abu Dhabi, whereas Sejong will face the unique challenge of going from virtually zero to 500,000 residents in just a decade. But in their pursuits of sustainable cities, the two are actually collaborating on the same dream; Korean President Lee Myung-bak toured Masdar in December and inked a deal with research partners in the UAE to jointly develop renewables and sustainable technologies. If one sustainable city makes a marvel, hopefully two marks the beginning of a trend.
Can we have a couple of those in America please? Maybe in the open plains of North Dakota, or Montana? PLEEEASE!?
This reminds me of the cities envisioned in the second half of Zeitgeist: Addendum.
That's great for South Korea, but what I can't believe is that we don't have one yet. We're not even thinking about building a city like this. There is no question that it's a great investment either; any country would benefit from a "high-tech hub of education and commerce."
500,000 people, $14,600,000,000 = $29,200 in tax debt per citizen. Unless they plan to charge a specific tax to residents (which is unlikely, as the cost to live there will already likely be artificially high without such a tax burden), then that tax debt will be disseminated across the entire population of the country.
Thus, these cities are not sustainable - they are tax parasites that demand that most people don't live in them but pay for them. You could not do this on a national scale.
Considering that you could build 100,000 + schools for that much money, there are better uses, particularly for a small country like SKorea.
A larger country, with a greater tax base, could reasonable build such a city (the average tax burden in China would be less than $10), but you could never get to a point where any resonable percentage of the population was living in one.
US already have the best one. It's called the Silicon Valley. :-)
Then north korea gets peeved and nukes the city...
Thanks for the article Clay. Deciding what to build in Mac to get the best possible result will be tough for South Korea. I suggest they take a look at SymbioCity Scenarios www.citiesforpeople.net/symbiocity-scenarios as a fun way to try sustainable city development.