Collapse of the nuclear industry

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Collapse of the nuclear industry

The author is the Daejeon bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Dec. 27 is the day of nuclear energy. It was designated in 2010 as Korean nuclear power plants were exported to the United Arab Emirates on Dec. 27, 2009. However, experts at KAIST and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Daejeon have grim faces. With the nuclear phaseout policy, nuclear energy research and related industries are on the verge of collapse.

A dozen KAIST students majoring in nuclear energy will gather at Daejeon Station on Dec. 28 to collect signatures opposing a nuclear phaseout. Students have been on the streets on weekends for the past year. Their efforts led to a collection of 570,000 signatures nationwide. A KAIST student who led the signature drive said, “If energy is short because of the nuclear phaseout, the socially vulnerable will suffer first. Is this the equality, justice and fairness that the candlelight revolution government emphasizes?”

The spread of solar power facilities following nuclear phaseout resulted in serious destruction of forests nationwide. According to the Korea Forest Service, solar energy facilities have been installed on 2,445 hectare (6,042 acres) of forests, equivalent to 3,000 soccer fields. Forest solar energy facilities increased from 529 hectare of 917 cases in 2016 to 1,435 hectare of 2,384 cases. Nuclear energy and forests have something in common. They are assets of the people attained like the Miracle of the Han River for the past 70 years. Their technologies are spread to other countries. The Korea Forest Service is teaching planting and afforestation skills to other countries in Southeast Asia.

The current administration advocates the candlelight revolution whenever something happens. The nuclear phaseout and removal of reservoirs on the four rivers and the abolition of independent private high schools are the realization of the candlelight revolution. Installation of an investigation agency for high-level public officials is a reform following the candlelight revolution. But so far, results of candlelight revolutions are closer to destruction and dissolution. Independent high schools in non-Seoul regions, such as Hanil High School in Gongju, South Chungcheong, are worried about closure. Excessive real estate policies infringe on the personal liberty of citizens’ property rights.

British philosopher Karl Popper said that humans have the risk of facing a greater evil after revolution due to limits of experience and knowledge. He thought humans did not have the ability to deal with a revolution. Popper’s warning has been verified historically. The candlelight power is no different.
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