Big things ahead for Jeolla zone

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Big things ahead for Jeolla zone

GWANGYANG, South Jeolla - The Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone was established in October 2003, along with the Incheon Free Economic Zone and Busan-Jinhae Free Economic zones.

The Gwangyang zone has a total area of 77.71 square kilometers (19,203 acres) that extends between areas in two bordering provinces: Yeosu, Suncheon, Gwangyang in South Jeolla, and Hadong county in South Gyeongsang.

The zone consists of 21 smaller development units. Each unit has a specialized purpose, from the logistics and marine industry to residential housing, culture and tourism.

The Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone Authority, which governs the zone, says it plans to finish the development of 20 units by 2020.

Top development priorities for 2015 are the Sepung Industrial Complex, which produces functional chemical materials and bio-packaging, and the Hwayang District, which focuses on culture and tourism.

The authority initially planned to develop the complex all at once, but due to complications getting funding, it has now divided Sepung into two areas with different development timelines.

In the first stage, set for completion in 2020, the district plans to establish a complex dedicated to producing advanced materials, including functional chemicals and biochemicals.

Hwayang District has an entirely different development approach. The authority aims to develop the area - over 1,634 acres - into a tourism complex including hotels, condominiums, convention halls, shopping malls, horse-riding courses and marine tourism facilities.

The project developer will soon be chosen through a bidding process.

Meanwhile, Gwangyang aims to make use of its existing infrastructure to become a logistics hub.

The area already has a container terminal, hinterlands to the east and west and the Hwangeum Industrial Complex.

The area is also home to the world’s largest steel mill, Posco’s Gwangyang Steel Works.

Gwangyang Port has the second-most port traffic in Korea and boasts a convenient transportation network. It is linked to four airports - Gwangju, Yeosu, Sacheon and Muan - all within an hour of the port, and is also connected to five highways leading to Seoul.

An extension of the KTX bullet train, completed in April, has made it possible to travel from Yeosu to Suncheon to Yongsan in central Seoul within three hours. When two local expressways centered around Hwayang District are completed by 2018, the district will be reachable in just 20 minutes from Yeosu airport, Yeosu Expo railway station or Yeosu port.

The port has a minimum berthing depth of 17 meters (38.4 feet), which allows for vessels over 300,000 tons to dock.

In the eastern hinterland, 27 companies are already in operation. In the western hinterland, 1.08 square kilometers are currently for sale to companies looking to expand.

BY Seo Ji-eun []
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