KTX Project Must Continue"The lobbying scandal over the Korea Train Express (KTX) project must not deter the ongoing construction in any way. The opening of the railway has already been delayed more than three years due to shoddy construction and a controversy over the route that the line would follow. If it is delayed any longer, for any reason, the damage result will be translated into people's inconvenience."
The chief director of Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority Yu Sang-yul along with 20 high-ranking officials took a test ride on the KTX on May 10.
The train ran at full speed, at times exceeding 200km/h. There were were few rumblings, and it was really so calm that people could understand another's wispering voice. All on board were very pleased and admired the speed and the coziness.
Nonethless, related officials with the KTX were constantly worrying and didn't look so happy. An official expressed his deep worries in his statement, "After the Central Investigation team of the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office made a public announcement that the prosection will launch an investigation, there was a lot of anxiety at the construction sights. They are afraid that this new investigation might cause confusion and chaos, reminiscent of the confusion that aroused in 1997 when WJE of the U.S.A. assesed KTX's construction as shoddy, forcing reconstruction."
The High Speed Rail, convieved through the independent political decision of former president Roh Tae-woo's without the people's consensus, has become the symbol of 'shoddy' since then.
At that time, the media projected the KTX project as "The reflection of Korea's shoddy aspects." Therefore, the construction was suspended and in turn the opening was delayed until April of 2004.
Korea is ranked as the worlds fifth in terms of construction of high speed rail, trailing Japan, Frence, Germany, and Spain. After its successful test run of the Chonan to Chongwon section covering 34.4km in December last year, China and Taiwan officials showed interest and have been visiting construction sights in Korea. If KTX succeeds in achieving speeds over 300km/h in Novemer this year, it will catch the interest and attention of not only southeastern Asia but also the world.
"Rail crossing the Korean Peninsula from North to South will be a topic of discussion in the Inter-Korea summit talks to be held next month. Construction should continue despite the Prosecutor's investigation," said an employee who was devoting his own time to work on May 11, a Korean national holiday.
by Kim Tae-jin