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[Editorial] Scientific territory

Korea opens new Antarctic base

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Published : 2014-02-16 19:26
Updated : 2014-02-16 19:26

South Korea has opened its second research base in the Antarctic, becoming the 10th country to have more than one research station on the polar continent. It deserves praise for contributing to the improvement of the nation’s polar research and scientific studies.

The Jang Bo-go Antarctic Research Station, named after a ninth-century pioneer naval admiral, houses 16 laboratories and 24 observation facilities. It can accommodate up to 60 people, and a 16-member staff will stay there year-round.

Located at the southeastern tip of Antarctica, the research station can endure temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius and winds of up to 65 meters per second. Officials said it was built with eco-friendly construction materials and uses renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

The new station will focus on geographic research such as glaciology, meteorite studies and the ozone layer while the first station, the King Sejong Station that opened in 1988, will stay focused on maritime research. The Jang Bo-go base will also serve as a center to test new plants, equipment, robots and materials in extreme conditions.

That the new station has joined King Sejong represents another big step for Korea in its scientific expedition. Korea’s polar research already has an impressive record: It sent its first exploration team in 1978, signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1986, and opened its first research base in the Antarctic in 1988 and another in the Arctic in 2002. The nation’s first icebreaker, the Araon, set sail in 2009.

Officials, including those from the Korea Polar Research Institute, and workers should be cheered on for their dedication and hard work put into building the Jang Bo-go Station. We need to use the opening of the station to create new momentum for research activities on the continent of opportunity, which President Park rightfully called a gigantic lab for the natural sciences and treasure of abundant natural resources.

The government should make sure more planned projects, including the construction of a hard-surface runway near the Jang Bo-go Station, should proceed without a hitch.

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