From the Chosun Ilbo:
The cities of Yeosu, Suncheon and Gwangyang in South Jeolla Province are to be merged into a new metropolis-level city. The new city will have an area of 1,856 sq.km, a little larger than Busan and Ulsan combined (1,820 sq.km), and a population of more than 720,000. At a debate hosted by Yeosu MBC on Wednesday, Yeosu Mayor Oh Hyun-sup, Suncheon Mayor Roh Kwan-kyu and Gwangyang Mayor Lee Sung-woong agreed to merge the three cities by 2010 to maximize the effect of investments in the region around Gwangyang Bay and create a new, more competitive city.
From the Dong-A Ilbo:
The city is reportedly planning to further integrate with Hadong and Namhae in the Gyeongnam region. That is an ambitious scheme to remove the distinction between the Yeongnam and Honam regions. The immediate objective for the integration of Yeosu, Suncheon, and Gwangyang is to be selected as the host of the World Expo. Currently, Yeosu is far smaller than its competitor cities overseas in terms of population size. The three cities intend to sign an MOU for integration before November 27 when the host will be selected. As the World Expo’s effects will equate to 10 trillion won of output growth and the employment of 80,000 people, it is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Gwangyang has POSCO’s steel mill, which is the largest in the world, while Suncheon has long been a famous education city. Therefore, once integrated, they could be an invincible team. There have been 40 cases of integration of local administrative districts. The Yeosu of today was born by merging Yeosu City, Yeocheon City and Yeocheon County in 1998. Suncheon is the combination of Suncheon City and Seungju County in 1995. Likewise, Gwangyang is the combination of Dong Gwangyang City and Gwangyang County in 1995.
From the Korea Times:
According to Yeosu Community Research Institute, 62.6 percent of Yeosu residents, 65.1 percent of Suncheon residents and 60.9 percent of Gwangyang residents were in favor of the merger.
Again, this is pretty surprising, and will create a very bizarre metropolis. As the Dong-A Ilbo article says, all three cities were assembled countless times by absorbing, realigning, and renaming different towns, villages, and fields. In fact, much of Jeollanam-do is this way, which is why, when you see the banner in your school describing your town's history, there are so many name changes throughout the centuries, as suchandsuch-ri was elevated to suchandsuch-myeon, which was absorbed into someother-myeon, which was divided . . . and so on, until the Japanese came and undid all that.
Anyway, when you drive through Suncheon or Yeosu (can't speak for Gwangyang), you find a lot of sprawl, and a few minute outside of either city you'll find factories, mountains, rice fields, or water. Suncheon, as we know it today, is a product of Seungju and Suncheon towns; Yeosu has three city halls from prior mergers; Gwangyang . . . is boring. So this will be messy.