Island complex would set new investment record

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Island complex would set new investment record

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A group of Korean entrepreneurs residing overseas hope to make the largest-ever investment in Yeongjong Island to build a business, tourism and leisure complex on the island off the west coast of Incheon.

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said yesterday that about 10 overseas Korean businessmen have set up a company called World Korean Business Dream Island. They have also submitted a proposal to make a private investment of 1.1 trillion won ($985 million) to construct the complex, it added.

If realized, this would be the largest development project in the country invested in by overseas entrepreneurs.

The ministry expects it to serve as an opportunity for domestic and overseas business figures to expand cooperation, while also attracting more investment by Korean expatriates.

“Since the area of investment is located just next to Incheon Bridge, it will be easier for overseas business leaders to establish a foothold in the country and form closer networks with domestic companies,” said Kim Cheol-hong, an official at the land ministry.

The latest proposal is also meaningful, because it is the first investment offered by a private business group since some 3 million square meters (32 million square feet) of the island was designated as a port redevelopment zone in 2007.

“The ministry has been looking for investors as it plans to make better use of the land, where millions of tons of sand have been dumped,” Kim said.

According to the proposal, the entrepreneurs want to build a golf club, sports center, business center, hotel, marine life park and logistics facilities on the 3.15-million-square-meter area.

If the company is selected as the final bidder by the government, it will conduct feasibility tests and basic roadwork until 2016. Major construction work is then expected to take another two years.

At the request of the ministry, the Korea Maritime Institute will review the proposal starting today to see whether it violates the law regarding the redevelopment of ports.

The government will also open the bid to other parties. If the plan goes smoothly, the project could take off early next year, the ministry said.

The government has been trying to attract foreign capital into Yeongjong Island since early 2000 by promoting its natural scenery and proximity to Incheon International Airport, but several attempts to lure huge development projects have creaked along without showing any tangible results.

The government’s plan to make the island a free economic zone is now at risk of being scrapped.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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