Mount Seorak decision sparks local cable car boom

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Mount Seorak decision sparks local cable car boom

Cable cars on Mount Gariwang in Jeongseon County, Gangwon have been in operation since Jan. 3. [YONHAP]

Cable cars on Mount Gariwang in Jeongseon County, Gangwon have been in operation since Jan. 3. [YONHAP]

The Ministry of Environment’s approval Monday of a new cable car project on Mount Seorak in Gangwon has triggered other local governments to push forward with cable car projects that were halted due to environmental concerns.  
 
Mount Bukhan and Namsan in Seoul, Mount Songni in North Chungcheong and Mount Palgong in Daegu are among the 10 places that may build scenic cable cars following the ministry's approval of the Mount Seorak cable car plan.
 
Monday's approval came with conditions, including consistent monitoring of protected species and the formation of a monitoring committee of experts to protect the ecosystem.
 
The new cable car project, first proposed 41 years ago, calls for a 3.3-kilometer (2.1-mile) cable car from Seoraksan National Park’s Osaek District in Yangayang County to Ggeutcheong, a peak near the top of Mount Seorak.
 
With the approval, many local governments are revisiting their cable car plans.
 
Local authorities in South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla have announced they will push forward with previous plans to build cable cars on Mount Jiri. 
 
Jirisan National Park was designated the country’s first national park in 1967.
 
It's also Korea's biggest mountain park, spanning three provinces: South Gyeongsang, South Jeolla and North Jeolla.  
 
South Gyeongsang's plan for a cable car on Mount Jiri was previously rejected by the Ministry of Environment in 2012, 2016 and 2017.
 
Environmentalists opposed the planned 10.5-kilometer-long cable car, while the Ministry of Environment concluded at the time that the plan contributed little to the public interest.  
 
Gurye County Office in South Jeolla may apply this year to build a cable car in Jirisan National Park as well.
 
The county plans to work together with South Jeolla Provincial Office to overcome environmental issues by establishing a taskforce.
 
The city of Daejeon wants to build cable cars and monorails to attract more tourists to its Mount Bomun.
 
The city previously operated on Mount Bomun a 418-meter-long cable car between 1968 and 2005. 
 
Daejeon now plans to study the economic feasibility of its latest cable car plan with the help of expert consultants.
 
The city's plan had met with backlash from local civic groups who criticize it for running counter to the previous mayor's pledge to preserve Mount Bomun's environment.
 
Daegu, too, had pushed for the construction of cable cars on its renowned Mount Palgong, but has so far failed due to opposition from preservationists and Buddhists. 
 
Korean Buddhists consider Mount Palgong sacred with its many temples, stone carvings and other Buddhist remains.
 
In North Chungcheong, Boeun County Office is also revisiting a plan to construct cable cars in Songnisan National Park. The county office had previously suggested four cable car routes on the mountain in 2018.  
 
“With approval of the new cable car project on Mount Seorak, we are considering promoting the plan according to guidelines,” an official from the county office said.
 
Metropolitan regions like Incheon and Seoul are pushing their own plans to install cable cars in scenic natural settings.
 
A bird's eye view of the sea cable car plan connecting Ganghwa Island and Seongmo Island in Incheon [GANGHWA COUNTY OFFICE]

A bird's eye view of the sea cable car plan connecting Ganghwa Island and Seongmo Island in Incheon [GANGHWA COUNTY OFFICE]

 
A 1.8-kilometer-long cable car that crosses the sea to connect Incheon's Ganghwa Island and Seongmo Island has been under construction since May last year.
 
Seoul may also get a gondola lift on Mount Namsan, despite a cable car already in operation.
 
The city is considering a route that starts near Myeong-dong Station in Jung District, central Seoul and runs to the top of Mount Namsan.
 
Seoul is currently studying the project's feasibility. 
 
In Ulsan, the city government is pushing a total of three cable cars in scenic mountain and maritime areas.
 
Environmental groups hold a press conference on Feb. 2 to denounce Yangyang County Office's plan to build a cable car on Mount Seorak. [YONHAP]

Environmental groups hold a press conference on Feb. 2 to denounce Yangyang County Office's plan to build a cable car on Mount Seorak. [YONHAP]

 
Civic groups and preservationists worry that the government’s approval of the cable car project on Mount Seorak will lead to the overdevelopment of other national parks.
 
“We can no longer let the environment ministry take care of the future of national parks,” civic groups opposed to the construction of the cable car said in a statement Monday.  

BY KIM JUNG-SEOK,CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]
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