The Korea Herald


Korea to forge ahead with Jeju naval base

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 29, 2012 - 17:00

    • Link copied

(Yonhap News) (Yonhap News)
Some design alterations to be made to enable safer passage for cruise ships

The government will go ahead with the construction of the Jeju naval base according to schedule but with small changes to its layout and operations, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Wednesday.

“The harbor (the Jeju naval base) is an important project that will contribute to protecting our seas, and creating jobs and increasing the local residents’ income by creating a new resource for tourism,” Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said during the meeting where it was decided to go ahead with the plans.

“As further delays in construction will result in an important national project missing the timing and wasting funds, unnecessary political controversy and wasteful social discord should be put to an end.”

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, although studies have shown that the facility’s current design allows for the access of 150,000-ton cruise ships, some alterations will be made to enable safer passage for them.

Alterations include changing the design for the breakwater quay on the west side of the harbor from a mobile structure, and reducing the angle of the route through which cruise ships are to enter the harbor from 77 degrees to 30 degrees.

In addition to making the changes in an effort to accommodate those claiming that the facility’s design is flawed, the government plans to spend 578.7 billion won ($526 million) on developing areas surrounding the base. Along with the central government’s spending, about 500 billion won will be forthcoming from the Jeju government and the private sector for developing the concerned areas, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Discussions for building the base began in 1993, and plans were set for building a military facility under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2007. However, the current administration altered the plans to that for building a “tourism” harbor shared by naval and civilian vessels including cruise ships.

However, due to strong resistance from residents of Jeju and environmental and civic activists, the project has been progressing slowly.

Construction began last year in Gangjeong Village on Jeju’s southern coast for a harbor that will accommodate around 20 naval vessels.

About 17 percent of the 977.6 billion won budget assigned to the project has been spent, and the government plans to complete construction by 2015. Although the government appears set in its course of action, alterations in the plans appear unlikely to be sufficient to appease those opposing the project.

On Wednesday, the Jeju branch of the Democratic United Party issued a statement saying that forging ahead with the plans will “run into national resistance” and that the government needs to verify issues raised by those opposed to the project more carefully.

On Monday, the government of Jeju submitted a remonstrance to the Prime Minister’s Office saying that the Ministry of National Defense-sponsored simulation did not reflect the recommendations outlined in the technical verification committee’s report.

On Feb. 14, the committee recommended that additional simulations be carried out to verify whether 150,000-ton cruise ships could use the planned naval base under conditions where the locations of harbor structures are different from the original design and tug boats with high power output are used.

The central government, however, is upholding the results of the Defense Ministry’s simulations, with one official saying that they were conducted “assuming the worst possible conditions, and included all the criteria outlined by the committee.”

The simulations were conducted by the Korea Maritime University on behalf of the Defense Ministry from December until last month.

By Choi He-suk  (