North Gyeongsang Province, home to six national industrial complexes and 35 regional industrial complexes, is a dynamo of the Korean economy and a very attractive investment destination. At the same time, it has abundant tourism and cultural resources, including famous mountains and rivers and the beautiful sea. It is also assuming a leading role in the creative economy drive of the Park Geun-hye administration as an R&D hub of high-tech industries.
Last year, it attracted 5.1 trillion won (US$4.7 billion) of investment while creating 66,000 jobs, in spite of harsh economic conditions. In addition, it recorded US$50 billion in exports for three years in a row, along with the highest trade surplus among all provincial regions in Korea for the second consecutive year.
Such successful outcomes brought it 44 policy awards and 3.5 billion won (US$3.2 million) of financial incentives in 2013. In particular, North Gyeongsang Province was selected as one of the best local governments, for the third consecutive year, in the central government’s assessment, and the top pledge implementation prize winner in an evaluation by the Korea Manifesto Center.
The provincial government headquarters is scheduled to be relocated to Andong this year. Under the circumstances, the region is striving to turn this year into a significant momentum for its future growth.
Attractive Destination for Investors Worldwide
North Gyeongsang Province was picked out in July 2013 as the most business-friendly local government in Korea in the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s survey. This can be attributed to its enhanced cooperation with the authorities concerned, such as the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), the Happy Monitor System for Investors consisting of 129 personnel from 23 cities and counties. The provincial governor has utilized his own official residence as a commercial exchange center as well.
During the course of 2013, Daelim Industries invested 1.5 trillion won (US$1.41 billion) in the region, while LG Display and Hankook Tires made investments of 830 billion won (US$780 million) and 250 billion won (US$235 million), respectively. The total is equivalent to 98% of the target amount set for the period of July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2014.
It is aiming to increase the amount of attracted investment to 5.2 trillion won (US$4.9 billion) this year by providing better environments and launching aggressive campaigns. It is planning to make particular efforts to provide more industrial zones, so as to substantially improve the business environment. The number of national and regional industrial complexes are going to be increased to nine and 65 each.
Also, the provincial government is going to attract investment in its industrial clusters in a more strategic way. Specifically, the biotech cluster in the northern region, the energy industry cluster in the east, the IT industry cluster in the west, and the materials industry cluster in the southern part of the province are expected to work in tandem with one another for greater synergy.
Creative Economy and Cultural Revitalization for Rosy Future
The success of the creative economy depends on scientific technology. In this context, North Gyeongsang Province is trying to set the stage for an ambitious national goal by improving its science infrastructure and gathering more industrial participants. The fourth-generation synchrotron accelerator, which is the third one in the world, will be built there in the world’s only accelerator cluster, along with third-generation proton accelerators.
Furthermore, the Science Belt Research Corps, the Max Planck Society, the Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics, and many other research institutes are working together to create the most advanced science valley. A budget of 13.5 trillion won (US$12.7 billion) will be invested in the East Sea region of the province for the construction of a nuclear industry cluster dedicated to the research of hydrogen fuel cells, wind power generation, ocean energy, and other sectors.
This science infrastructure is expected to be the new growth driver for future generations. The central and southern parts of the region connecting Gimcheon, Gumi, Gyeongsan, and Yeongcheon will be turned into ICT convergence clusters manufacturing advanced construction machinery and testing aviation and electronics products. The East Sea region, including Pohang and Gyeongju, are slated to house new materials manufacturers, basic science R&D institutes, green energy and robotics companies. The northern areas of Andong and Yeongju are scheduled to be developed into hubs of the bio-tech and healthcare sectors, combining traditional cultural and creative economic elements.
The province is giving a concrete shape to its River-Mountain-Sea Development Plan, too. The East Sea Development Corps, which was set up last year, is working on a maritime research center and a health care complex, while applying unique water industry development strategies to the Nakdong River to capitalize on the World Water Forum 2015. The Baekdu Daegan and the Nakdong Jeongmaek areas are going to be home to arboretums, healing forests, and the like, so that they can become national role models of profit generation utilizing forest resources.
North Gyeongsang Province owns very valuable cultural assets, too. It is home to the ancient Gaya culture, Buddhism of the Shilla Kingdom, and the Confucian culture of the Joseon Dyansty as well as more than 40% of the ancient houses of Korea, 20% of the country’s cultural properties, and three UNESCO World Heritage sites. All of the Hwarang Spirit of the Unified Shilla Kingdom, the Seonbi Spirit, and the Saemaeul Movement stemmed from this region as well to represent what Korea is now. President Park Geun-hye, during her visit in December last year, even mentioned Andong as the very place to lead a cultural renaissance of Korea.
The province drew international interest in 2013 by playing host to the Istanbul-Gyeongju World Cultural Expo in Turkey. The event, held for 23 days between August 31 and September 22, was attended by 40 countries from all around the world. More than 4.87 million people watched a show in which the World Culture Declaration was read in 11 languages. The province sent its expedition for the 21,000 km-long Silk Road to shed new light upon the Shilla culture and open a new Silk Road for the 21st century. This year, it is going to launch a big run along the Ocean Silk Road with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, in order to find the root of the marine kingdom of Shilla.
Saemaeul Movement, Role Model of ODA Programs
North Gyeongsang Province is the region from where the Saemaeul Movement, the symbol of the modernization of Korea, originated. The movement’s goal is to share the economic development experience of Korea with less-developed nations, so as to eradicate poverty across the world. The province is currently working on Millennium Villages in four regions in Tanzania and Uganda, in cooperation with the United Nations, and running 15 model villages in five African and Asian countries. It has also sent a lot of volunteer workers to this end, while inviting 200 foreign village leaders each year to foster more effective cooperation.
The municipal government is planning to further expand the Saemaeul Village Construction Projects in conjunction with international organizations like the UNDP. The Saemaeul Globalization Foundation will establish a global governance system with the UN, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and so on, while more closely collaborating with the central government, colleges, and the authorities concerned, so that the movement can be a textbook example of official development aid (ODA) programs and a way for Korea to increase its international standing, eradicate poverty, and contribute to the growth of humanity.