Korea has decided to downsize areas originally included as part of the country’s six free economic zones to reflect changing development requirements, the government said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said a review panel ruled to exclude 12 areas covering 90.4-square kilometers of land from the FEZs, a move expected to cut back on overall costs and construction time.
Seoul first designated Incheon, Busan-Jinhae and Gwangyang as open economic regions in 2003 in a bid to transform the country into a Northeast Asian business hub. This was followed by the designation of the Yellow Sea region around Asan and Dangjin and FEZs in the Saemangeum-Gunsan and Daegu-North Gyeongsang areas in 2008.
All six areas, however, have been plagued by a lack of foreign investments and complaints by landowners, who claimed that the FEZ restricted their rights to develop their own land.
The six regions covered 568.3 square kilometers of land with development costs estimated at a little over 104.5 trillion won from 2003 through 2025.
“By excluding 12 areas, FEZ development could be completed around 2020 with costs going down to 87.5 trillion won,” the ministry said, adding that the total area that has to be built up will shrink to 477.9 square kilometers.
Areas to be excluded are parts of Yeongjong Island in the Yellow Sea and the Busan-Jinhae region in the southeastern tip of the country. Land near Gwangyang Bay and around Saemangeum, both in the southwestern part of the country, will also be excluded from the FEZs.