The Ministry of Environment on Friday gave its approval for a cable car to be set up on a popular mountain range near South Korea's eastern coast, a plan that has been criticized for its potential harm to the regional environment.
The construction plan calls for a 3.5-kilometer long cable car system to be built at the southern region of Mount Seorak in Yangyang County, about 215 kilometers east of Seoul, setting up a means of convenient transportation all the way up to the peak of the Osaek area hiking course.
The ministry, however, said it gave its approval under the condition that Yangyang County add supplementary plans that further address environmental and safety issues to its initial construction plan. The approval will be finalized once Environment Minister Yoon Seong-kyu gives the go-ahead.
The cable car project has been a controversial issue among environmentalists here, who have argued that the mountain's natural environment must be preserved.
Likewise, it has taken Yangyang County several years to have its plan passed. The county government had submitted its cable car construction plan in 2012 and in 2013, but was rejected both times due to issues that the structure's design could pose a threat to the habitat of some of the wildlife in the area.
Advocates, on the other hand, say that the cable car will help to boost tourism and thereby add to the economic development of the region, especially ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, located just south of the county.
Construction is to begin next year until October 2017. The cable car will have its trial run for about three months starting in November 2017 before its official operation starts in 2018. (Yonhap)