Cheju Authorities Flip-Flopping on Mt.Songak Development

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Cheju Authorities Flip-Flopping on Mt.Songak Development

Even though its has been dormant for millennia, the activity surrounding Mt.Songak on Cheju Island could rival any of its ancient eruptions.

In December, 1997, Cheju Islands provincial office has been funding extensive geological research which has recently been published under the title ‘Cheju Erupting’. An in-depth survey of the geology unique to the island with its volcanoes surpassing 300 in number, the publication is a bid to halt the development of the still pristine land of Mt.Songak by resort developers.

However, this is not the first time that recommendations to safeguard the area from commercial development have been made public. Two years ago, a prominent professor of Cheju National University specializing in volcanic formations wrote, at the behest of Cheju authorities, a paper specifically on the Mt.Songak area. In it, he stated that “Mt.Songak is noteworthy for its unique geological formation, a ‘crater within a crater’. It has significant meaning not only her on the island but also internationally. Special care is needed to protect this environmental treasure from being altered or developed haphazardly.”

With development projects still be considered for the area, geologists and environmentalists were calling on Cheju authorities to further study environmental and geological impact any proposed development could have on the area. The answer from Cheju authorities, though, was that had done this and that they did not “need any further research or study,” indication of the authorities past desire to develop the earea

Also not to take this lying down, Cheju government appealed the Cheju District Court’s decision to halt any further development until further studiues were conducted. Taking their case further to Kwangju Supreme Court on June 10th, one of the arguments tendered by Cheju litigators was that Mt.Songak was not a double crater formation, and that it was quite “common” to find that kind of geological formation anywhere in world. They also commented that the ‘buzz’ surrounding the area had been created by a small group of “narrow-minded scholars.” This words now ring somewhat hollow with the current protectionist stance being taken these days by Cheju authorities who seem now to be bowing to overwhelming public opinion calling for a moratorium on development.

by Yang Song-chul

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