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2 cities win bid to build medical complexes

Aug 11,2009

The Health Ministry selected two cities to house new high-tech medical facilities worth at least 5.6 trillion won ($4.6 billion).

Chosen were Daegu, Korea’s fourth-largest city, and Osong in North Chungcheong Province.

Under the original plan, the government announced it would designate a specific city for a one-million-square-meter complex similar to the biotechnology cluster in the Boston area and Singapore’s Biopolis. The complex was also intended to develop new drugs. Now, two cities will be involved.

Of the 5.6 trillion won originally to be spent by 2038, the central government was to pay 1.9 trillion won and the city up to 300 billion won. The remaining 3.4 trillion won, or 61 percent of the total, was to come from the private sector, such as pharmaceutical firms.

The ministry will finalize the design of the sites by the first half of next year and contract with builders by July. Construction is expected to finish by 2012. The government hopes the project will create 382,000 jobs.

In Daegu, the Shinseo-dong “innovation city” will have a cutting-edge medical complex. Daegu has been noted as a major manufacturer of textiles and machinery.

Health Minister Jeon Jae-hee said Daegu “has obtained high marks in a variety of evaluations, including outcome from cooperative research activities with domestic and foreign medical research institutes.”

Osong was selected to house the Korea Food and Drug Administration and several other health-related government offices at the Osong Bio-Life Science Industrial Complex. Jeon cited Osong’s convenient location and the expected synergy relocation of the KFDA would create.

The selection of two cities came as a surprise. The ministry earlier promised to designate a single city “to maximize the effect of concentration.” However, Jeon said the multiple selections are meant to “boost competition and specialization between the two complexes, given the size of the Korean economy and the examples in Japan and the United States.”

She noted that the budget for the project will increase now that each of the two cities will have a high-tech medical complex. “The 5.6 trillion won was an estimated amount for the scenario of a single destination and it is inevitable that the size of budget will increase,” she said.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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