With Kim Yang-ho newly elected as the mayor of Samcheok City in the recent local government election, the city has changed its development strategy from “Hybrid Energy City” to “Citizen-centered City for People’s Happiness.” Until recently, the nuclear power station issue has split the opinions of citizens. The newly-elected mayor sees it has his responsibility to put an end to the controversy. BusinessKorea had an exclusive interview with him to hear about his will and plan for solving the main pending issue of the city and achieving its future prosperity. The following are excerpts from the interview.
First of all, congratulations on your election as the new mayor of Samcheok City.
I would like to appreciate all of the Samcheok citizens’ support for me. I will do my utmost to foster the value of Samcheok City while developing it as a citizen-centered city. These days, I am putting forward every effort to find the best way to handle the major pending issue of the cancellation of the nuclear power plant construction.
The Samcheok City government’s slogan has changed from Hybrid Energy City to Citizen-centered City for People’s Happiness. Please explain about the philosophy of your municipal governance.
The goal of the governance is establish an ecological city of clean energy where the people and nature coexist and accelerate the development of its tourism infrastructure. Until recently, the nuclear power station issue has split the opinions of the citizens to arouse controversy and hinder the development of the city. I promise I will put an end to the dispute so that the city can achieve future prosperity from this moment onwards.
Your election pledges include the cancellation of the construction of the nuclear power station and promotion of the growth of alternative industries. What are the details?
A large number of Samcheok citizens rooted for the nullification of the construction plan during the June 4 local election. I will make a strong request to the central government as the representative of the city. The government is planning to create jobs and develop local industries by means of nuclear power generation. However, I will attain the goals by speeding up the growth of alternative industries in order to turn Samcheok into a clean city and the center of the East Coast region.
In this context, a photovoltaic power generation theme park will be built with private investment, at the very site earmarked for the nuclear power plant, for future energy production and distribution. We plan to hold a Solar Festival at the theme park each year. Also, cash crops like herbs and shitake mushrooms will be cultivated right in the 200 MW-capacity photovoltaic power generation complex so as to maximize the utilization of the facilities. Ecological power plants using solar power, energy self-sufficient villages, and 1,000 solar power houses are scheduled to be set up, too. One hundred billion won is slated to be invested in an underground laboratory for double beta decay and dark matter research in Mt. Doota, Miro-myeon, while a cosmic ray research center will be attracted along with it. All of these will contribute to the regional development and national energy supply.
It is expected that the procurement of the financial resources for alternative industries will be quite tough. What plans do you have in mind?
We have already completed the analysis of our financial conditions and we will reexamine the past projects to set priorities for gradual, phased and thorough progress. The Samcheok Citizen Fund is to be raised in this vein and a 9 MW-capacity plasma coal gasification plant will be built in the mining area of Dogye-eup, along with factories for manufacturing related equipment. The social enterprise of Dogye Plasma Power Plant will use 54,000 tons of low-calorie anthracite a year, hire 350 local citizens, and supply free electricity to the local residents. The ratio of private investment and foreign funds will be raised aggressively, although the past projects were based mainly on the local government budget.
What is the core competency for sustainable growth of Samcheok City, and how are you developing it?
The key lies in the abundant cultural resources and clean environments unique to the city. The local economy revolved around coal and cement production until the 1970s, but the focus has shifted to the culture and tourism industries since the 1980s, and this will continue in the future as well.
Sir Lee Seung-hyu wrote the nation’s masterpieces of Samgukyusa and Jewangunki at Cheoneunsa Temple located in Miro-myeon. General Lee Sa-bu regained the Ulleungdo territory from the advance base of Samcheok. The city is home to the royal tombs of King Gongyang of the Goryeo Dynasty, and an ancestor of the founder of the Joseon Dynasty Lee Sung-kye. The high historic value of the city is a cherished treasure of the entire nation.
Samcheok has a number of beautiful tourist spots, ranging from mountains and valleys to the sea and caves, too. The Samcheok Seaside Rail Bike was selected as the Star of Korean Tourism in July by the Korea Tourism Organization. The Daei-ri area located in Shinki-myeon houses the Hwanseon Cave and Daekeum Cave, two of the largest caves in Korea with a half-billion-year history and the nickname of Dream Palace. Also, the Jangho Beach is called the Naples of Korea. All of these attractive tourist destinations will mesmerize you all year round.
Lastly, what would you like to say about the future of Samcheok City?
Samcheok is in the middle of drastic shift now. The Referendum Committee of Samcheok citizens will gather the people’s opinions as to the construction of the nuclear power station for harmony and concord, because the ongoing dispute cannot last forever. I hope the central government will revise and improve related bills while coming up with measures for the development and promotion of new and renewable energy sources.
I believe now is the time for Korea to review the sustainability of nuclear power generation in view of the degree of damage from nuclear accidents, change in nuclear power development and energy policy of other countries, and environmental preservation for the next generation. More and more countries around the world are now going for alternative energy, and Korea must not fall behind.