Gov’t finalizes Saemangeum project

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Gov’t finalizes Saemangeum project

The government has finalized its plan for the Saemangeum reclamation project, 40 years after the area was first examined as a potential reclamation development site in 1971.

Under the plan finalized yesterday by the Saemangeum Development Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, the area will be transformed into one of the major economic hubs of Northeast Asia, consisting of industrial-related facilities, renewable energy-related businesses, scientific research centers, hotels, resorts and residential property, along with agricultural, horticultural and food businesses.

Saemangeum will be able to accommodate 760,000 residents on a 401-square-kilometer (160 square miles) area, two-thirds the size of Seoul.

Of the land, 70 percent would be non-farming and 30 percent would be developed as farmland.

The Saemangeum project, which began in 1991, was meant to provide new farmland, principally for growing rice, but that has since become obsolete since Korea has a rice surplus.

Several proposals have since been made for finding new uses for Saemangeum to avoid it becoming a “white elephant” project.

Ariul, the residential city of Saemangeum, will feature various public transportations with water taxis and buses linking small islands.

An area in the city will be restricted as a public transportation-only zone and a trams will be installed to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The government also finalized infrastructure for Saemangeum. A port with 18 piers will be built on the man-made land and another separate pier designated to accommodate cruise ships would be built as well.

“The new port will serve as an international logistics center for southwest coast industrial areas,” said Ra Min-seop, an official at the North Jeolla Provincial Government. “By luring investment from domestic and foreign firms, the project will have a ripple effect on the entire economy.”

A highway will be built linking Saemangeum and Jeonju, North Jeolla and high speed KTX trains will also be built linking Gunsan, North Jeolla and Saemangeum.

International flights would also be launched after expansion work on Gunsan Airport is completed, the government said.

The reclamation project is estimated to cost around 22 trillion won ($19.4 billion) and the government will invest 10.9 trillion won for the project. Starting next month, the government will begin presentations overseas to lure foreign investment.

By Kim Mi-ju, Lee Chul-jae []
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