Daejeon chosen as home to big science project

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Daejeon chosen as home to big science project

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Minister of Education, Science and Technology Lee Ju-ho announces yesterday that Daejeon will get the country’s new science belt. [YONHAP]


To bolster the nation’s high-tech prowess, the government will build in Daejeon’s Daedeok District a 5.2 trillion won ($4.8 billion) international business and science complex with a National Basic Science Institute and a large-scale particle accelerator, Minister of Education, Science and Technology Lee Ju-ho announced yesterday.

The decision for where the so-called science belt would be built has been awaited for months. Four other areas were in the running: Gwangju, Daegu, Pohang and North Gyeongsang.

“The Education Ministry and a government-run science belt evaluation committee have thoroughly discussed the site for the belt and made a decision today,” Lee said. “In an effort to encourage top research centers to cooperate with each other, we have increased the project’s budget from what was previously planned.” The final budget went up 1.7 trillion won from the 2009 plan.

According to the ministry, the universities already based in Daedeok, along with R&D institutions and infrastructure, gave the city the highest score, 75, by the evaluation committee.

After the announcement, angry lawmakers and civic groups in South Jeolla and North Gyeongsang protested the decision, saying the government was trying to attract votes from Chungcheong for next year’s presidential election by launching the belt in the region.

President Lee Myung-bak made a pledge during the 2007 presidential election campaign to build a science belt in Chungcheong to boost local economic recovery.

The government expects about 3,000 jobs to be created from the science belt project, and bring Korea’s tech savviness forward by attracting scientists from around the world to work there.

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The government also announced that Cheongwon, Yeongi and Cheonan have been selected as the belt’s “supporting cities” for finance and industry. They are all in the Chungcheong region.

Daedeok will be home to the 3 million square meter (741 acres) science belt. Its two main components will be a National Basic Science Institute and the Korea Rare Isotope Accelerator (KoRIA).

KoRIA, a 470 billion won particle accelerator, is regarded as crucial for developing the nation’s basic science research.

Experts say the accelerator can be used in a wide range of studies, such as astrophysics, biology and medical science, and could attract top scientists and researchers from around the world.

The ministry said 25 laboratories will be built in the disappointed three cities and one province.

According to the ministry, four of Korea’s elite science universities - Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology - will cooperate to create a so-called joint campus for technology cooperation.

Out of the 5.2 trillion won budget, the government will invest 2.3 trillion in Daedeok and the rest on the joint campus and associated laboratories in other areas.

Lee In-ki, a Grand National Party lawmaker based in North Gyeongsang, said yesterday: “We can’t accept a decision that is so obviously intended to win votes for an election.”

Gu Do-gweon, chief of a committee for the development of the southeastern region of Korea, said, “If you want to balance development among cities, it’s not right to select Daejeon, where lots of state-run research centers have already been built.”

Kim Kwan-yong, governor of North Gyeongsang, has been on a hunger strike since Friday, when advance word of the selection of Daedeok leaked out. “I can’t understand why great cities in North Gyeongsang, such as Ulsan and Daegu, failed to be chosen for the belt, despite their excellent research centers and infrastructure,” Kim said on Sunday.

Lee Sang-hyo, chairman of the provincial council of North Gyeongsang, shaved his head on Sunday to protest the decision.

The North Gyeongsang Provincial Government and Ulsan and Daegu city governments released a statement yesterday, which read, “The selection of Daejeon is complete nonsense and the government should rescind its plan right away.”

The three governments also demanded that the evaluations of all the prospective sites be released.

In South Jeolla, Kang Un-tae, mayor of Gwangju, and Kim Young-jin, a local Democratic Party lawmaker, said Gwangju’s cheap real estate wasn’t factored into the decision. Three chairmen and five commissioners of the Gwangju City Council also went on a hunger strike yesterday.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [연합]

과학벨트 대덕 선정에 여야 정치권 반발

한나라당 대구.경북 의원들 ‘잘못된 결정…관련자 문책해야’
민주당 호남 의원들 ‘백지화→원점 재심사 해야’

국제과학비즈니스벨트(과학벨트)의 거점지구 입지가 16일 대전 대덕단지로 확정되자 여야를 불문하고 유치에 실패한 영.호남 의원들은 일제히 비난 성명을 내는 등 반발했다.

한나라당 대구.경북 의원들은 이날 오후 국회 정론관에서 공동성명을 발표하고 "이번 정부 결정은 전면적으로 잘못됐다"며 "교육과학기술부는 과학벨트 입지 심사평가 과정에서 객관성과 공정성을 배제한 것에 대해 국민 앞에 정중히 사과하고 평가표, 회의록 등 관련 문서를 전면 공개하라"고 촉구했다.

한나라당 이인기 경북도당위원장과 이병석 김성조 김태환 유승민 서상기 이한성 의원은 성명을 발표하면서 "정부는 엄청난 상처를 국민들에게 남긴 관련 책임자를 명백히 밝히고 응분의 책임을 묻도록 하라"고 요구했다.

`과학벨트 호남권 유치위원회` 공동위원장인 민주당 김영진 의원도 성명을 내고 "정부의 각본에 따른 짜맞추기식 심사에 전 국민이 분노하고 있다"며 "대한민국의 미래 먹거리인 과학벨트가 정치벨트로 전락한 셈"이라고 비판했다.

김 의원은 "불공정하고 불평등한 기준으로 평가된 심사 결과는 불복종으로 귀결될 수밖에 없다"며 "백지화와 원점 재심사가 이뤄지지 않는다면 국회 차원의 관련 예산지원 중단은 물론 청문회와 국정조사 등 모든 수단을 동원해 저지하겠다"고 밝혔다.

민주당 광주 의원들은 17일 광주에서 회의를 열어 대응책을 논의할 예정이다.

민주당 전현희 원내대변인은 브리핑에서 "이명박 정부가 국정운영 철학과 원칙은 물론 갈등조정 능력마저 없는 무능한 정권임이 다시 한번 확인됐다"며 "이 대통령의 대국민 사과를 촉구한다"고 밝혔다.

민주노동당 우위영 대변인도 논평에서 "여권이 공약대로 추진했으면 될 일을 대통령의 정략적 이해관계에 따라 지역간 갈등과 논란을 불러일으켰다"고 비판했다.

그러나 충청권을 기반으로 하고 있는 자유선진당은 정부가 국론분열과 지역갈등을 초래한 점을 비판하면서도 대덕단지가 거점지구로 선정된 것은 다행스럽다는 반응을 보였다.

권선택 원내대표 등 자유선진당 의원들은 국회 기자회견에서 "세종시가 실질적 과학벨트 기능지구로 작동할 수 있도록 후속 조치가 이뤄져야 한다"고 요구했다.

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