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Small modular reactors can help supply energy to NK: DP chief

Rep. Song Young-gil, chairman of the Democratic Party, delivers a speech during a plenary session of the National Assembly in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Rep. Song Young-gil, chairman of the Democratic Party, delivers a speech during a plenary session of the National Assembly in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Small modular reactors currently under development can help supply energy to North Korea which suffers from chronic power shortage, ruling Democratic Party leader Song Young-gil said on Wednesday.

“With the North’s denuclearization as a precondition, SMRs can be a useful way to supply energy to North Korea which is mountainous and has a weak power grid,” Song said in his first speech as the representative of a parliamentary negotiating group since taking office as DP chairman last month.

“There are limits to achieving carbon neutrality with just renewable energy. An energy mix of using hydrogen and nuclear power is inevitable for a significant period of time.”

Song mentioned that he suggested a need for strategic cooperation between the nuclear power industries of South Korea and US during his first meeting with President Moon Jae-in, and the two countries agreed on working together in overseas nuclear power markets last month.

The Moon administration finalized a plan last December to develop an SMR, an all-in-one nuclear reactor in which a reactor, steam generator, pressurizer and coolant pump are all integrated into one vessel.

This is because SMRs can effectively supply energy to countries in the Middle East or other landlocked nations, Song said.

The DP chief also said his party will support commercialization of the South Korean-developed artificial sun technology.

As for policies targeted at youths aged between 19 and 34, Song suggested the president should appoint a new minister for them, adding that the new ministry should support housing, jobs and education for young people.

Song also said his party will speed up a special legislation to help support the local semiconductor industry as a worldwide chip shortage triggered what many call a “semiconductor war.”

About the Seoul mayoral by-election that the party lost on April 7, Song said it was the people’s “judgment on rising home prices, tax burdens and real estate ‘naeronambul’ of government and DP officials,” referring to a popular term which roughly translates to “If I do it, it’s romance; if others do it, it’s an extramarital affair.”

“Politics is not about persistently saying things you want to; it’s about saying what the people want to say,” he said, stressing the need for stronger democracy within the DP so that party members can freely express their ideas.

“The minute one quails before a certain group or falls into self-censorship, the DP will begin to isolate itself from the public sentiment.”

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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