South reveals spending package for border areas

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South reveals spending package for border areas

South Korea plans to spend over 13 trillion won ($11.6 billion) over the next decade to expand infrastructure areas that border North Korea, including the demilitarized zone (DMZ), for closer inter-Korean exchanges, the government said Thursday.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the government’s Border Area Policy Deliberation Committee approved a plan to invest 13.2 trillion won by 2030 to stimulate tourism and balanced growth of the border areas, whose development has been stalled due to military security and regulations. The investment will be spent on 225 projects in four broad fields - expanding the base for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, promotion of balanced regional development, stimulation of ecological and peace tourism, and expansion of social infrastructure. The central government will raise 5.4 trillion won of the planned investment, while local governments and private investors will pay 2.2 trillion won and 5.6 trillion won, respectively.

Projects related to inter-Korean cooperation will draw 5.1 trillion won, the largest portion in the planned investment, ministry officials said.

A two-lane road will be built by 2024 to connect Incheon’s Yeongjong Island and Shin Island, while an inter-Korean cultural experience center will be built in Cheorwon, Gangwon, a border town through which the restored southern section of the Gyeongwon Line, a train route between Seoul and North Korea’s eastern coastal city of Wonsan, passes. In the border areas, 54 other projects will be implemented to build industrial parks, improve living conditions for small towns and create a good environment for business start-ups. About 3 trillion won will be earmarked for various tourism projects, including walking routes near the DMZ, ecological experience centers and the construction of a gondola and observatory at the “Punch Bowl Village,” a highland basin in Yanggu, Gangwon.

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