On Feb. 29, Prime Minister Kim Hwang Sik held a national policy adjustment meeting with the Minister of National Defense; the Minister of Public Administration and Security; the Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs; and the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism to discuss the Gangjeong naval base issue.
During the meeting it was announced that there will be some alterations made to the naval base’s plan, but construction will no longer be delayed.
“It is time for all unnecessary political debate, or consuming conflicts to cease. It is time for the public, the administration, and the military to work together,” Prime Minister Kim said during the meeting.
In response to the Jeju provincial government request, the Korean government will invest 1.7 trillion won (US$1.52 billion) in 37 regional development projects over the next 10 years. The government will pay 578 billion won using government funds and the rest will come from private investment. The projects will mostly focus on turning the Gangjeong area into a tourism hub centered on the port.
When the 37 projects have been completed, the Korean government expects it to generate about 1.5 trillion won in production and about 624 million won in value-added inducements. Some 18,000 new jobs are forecast.
On Sunday, Seogwipo Police announced that on March 2, Daelim Industrial Co., Ltd. — the designated contractor for the naval base — submitted an application for permission to use explosives in the construction of the base.
A day after the application, Jeju Democratic United Party members Kim Woo Nam, Kim Jae Yoon, and Moon Dae Rim released an official statement criticizing the use of explosives saying, “The blasting will only cause a bigger catastrophe” and approval should not be given.
Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min and Provincial Assembly Chairman Oh Chung Jin, along with the Jeju branch heads for the Democratic United Party and the Saenuri Party held a press conference at the provincial office on March 5 to request the Korean government to postpone naval base construction in Gangjeong village.
They asked the central government to conduct another simulation to reexamine whether the port can be properly used as a cruise port as well as a military port. Four officials urged the government to delay the blasting.
However, the central government and the Korean Navy did not alter their plans, and on March 7, at around 11:20 a.m. construction companies continued with construction and used explosives despite opposition from villagers, protesters, and politicians.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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