Samcheok City is very busy in building the infrastructure to be an energy hub in the North-east Asia while carrying out the “Comprehensive Future Plan for Vision 2020 of Samchoek.” At the center of such a driving has been the mayor Kim Dae-soo. Since taking the office as the 4th mayor elected by popular vote, he has tried to transform the city from sightseeing oriented city to the green and eco-friendly energy city combined with tourism. Followings are some excerpts from the interview with him.
What focal projects have you been pushing forward since being inaugurated as Mayor of Samcheok City?
For the last two years since my inauguration, I have made great efforts to promote various areas, such as the economy and industry, culture and tourism, eco-friendly agriculture, education, and social welfare. In particular, I was able to select the site and establish the foundation of the nuclear power cluster development project last year, thanks to the efforts of the Nuclear Power Attraction Committee, which was voluntarily organized by civic groups and citizens.
Currently, a LNG production base, Samcheok Power Generation Complex, and an international logistics port (Hosan Harbor), which are worth 20 trillion won, are being constructed. National projects, including an SNG plant project, are also underway. In fact, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the SNG plant project worth 9.5 trillion won was signed this year. Samcheok City will create an economic effect worth 67 trillion won and will receive attention as one of the most advanced energy cities in Korea when it completes construction of SNG production facilities, a clean energy industrial complex, a chemical industrial park, and a nuclear power cluster complex.
Furthermore, more than 10 million tourists have visited Samcheok City, enjoying Seaside Rail Bikes, the Leesabu Lion Park, and Daegeumgul Cave. In particular, Seaside Rail Bikes are highly popular among tourists and were presented with the Korea Tourism Award. As mayor, I will upgrade this city to one of the best ocean tour places, where visitors can enjoy tourism in all four seasons, by expanding the scope of the “City of Tourism and Life” project this year.
I will enhance the economy of farming and fishing communities by making Samcheok City one of the most eco-friendly production places in Korea. In order to boost the economy and improve the environments of farming and fishing communities, I will encourage the production of eco-friendly organic products by efficiently operating the Global Organic Food Research Institute and establishing a farming experience park and cultural center for Shingle Village. In addition, I will strengthen the competitiveness of the agro-livestock industry by providing the support needed to produce high-quality agricultural produce, expanding production and distribution facilities, and promoting the brand value of Korean beef. I will also increase the number of technology research and aid projects in order to invigorate the economy of the agriculture industry, including an eco-friendly agriculture management department, an organic produce testing center, and a pilot project to increase the incomes of farmers and fishermen.
Could you elaborate on the mid and long-term development model of Samcheok City?
Samcheok City is making its best efforts to realize the mid and long-term plan of achieving a population of 300,000 by 2020. It aims to become one of the best tourism and energy cities in Korea, boasting of valuable assets, such as the ocean, history, cultural resources, and cave tours.
Once it achieves the dream of becoming a top-class tourism and energy city in Korea, Samcheok City will become an influential role model for all cities eager to develop and succeed. A variety of maritime tour attractions, such as an ocean resort and marina facilities, are being built near Samcheok Beach. By connecting these attractions with tourism resources in the Gallam and Gongchon areas, including Seaside Rail Bikes, Ocean Rope Way, and Haeshindang Park, Samcheok will be able to become a high-class city, one that harmonizes the ocean, history, cultural resources, and cave tours.
You recently signed an MOU for the “Samcheok Power Generation Complex.” Could you explain about the project details and future plans?
Samcheok City signed an MOU for the Samcheok Power Generation Complex with STX Energy on January 6. Under this MOU, an eco-friendly combined power plant with a capacity of 4,000KW and a renewable energy power plant with a capacity of 300MW in the Geundeok area will be established on a site measuring 700,000 pyeong (about 2.3million ㎡) and a cost of 8 trillion won.
We will promote the Samcheok Power Generation Complex, focusing on coal-to-liquid (CTL), substitute natural gas (SNG), integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), gas-to-liquid (GTL), and ocean thermal energy conversion.
In addition, we are putting forth our best efforts by establishing the Energy Research Institute, a chemical facility manufacturing plant, and other heavy chemical complexes, in order to become a coal and natural gas hub that contains both a coal thermal power plant and LNG production facilities for the first time in Korea.
Could you tell us about the progress of the LNG production facilities, Samcheok Power Generation Complex, and Posco Power’s Clean Energy Complex?
Since the bank protection and ground-leveling work is roughly 61.5% complete, the overall progress of the LNG production base, which is being constructed in Ilwon village, Wondeok, is 31%. The construction of the Samcheok Power Generation Complex began in June 2011, and it is currently 13.5% complete 13.5%. We will do our utmost to complete the LNG production base by December, 2015.
The bank protection and ground-leveling activities for the Samcheok Power Generation Complex are also being quickly carried out. We are working hard to stabilize the national supply of electricity by completing the complex by December, 2015.
What impact will they have on the regional economy?
The project costs for the LNG production base, the Samcheok Power Generation Complex, and the Clean Energy Complex are 2.8 trillion won, 5.9 trillion won, and 8 trillion won respectively. The total cost of 16.7 trillion won will bring enormous benefits to our regional economy.
Thousands of construction engines are buzzing busily in the Wondeok area every day, giving hope that this depressed place can be transformed into a small and medium-sized city.
I will explain in numbers. Samcheok City will have an annual average 5,000 residents and one million workers, and this will create a consumption promotion effect equivalent to approximately 50 billion won. According to the Power Generation Complex Surrounding Area Support Act, a special support fund of 63 billion won will be provided during the construction period and a basic support fund of 2.4 billion won provided annually in the post-construction period. With these effects, Samcheok City will truly become a robust energy Mecca in Korea.
Before wrapping up the interview, could you say a few words to potential local and foreign visitors to Samcheok City?
Samcheok City is carrying out a number of large national projects worth approximately 20 trillion won. We are currently developing as a national energy Mecca and are considered a top-class ocean tour city in Korea.
We are building ocean resort facilities with Daemyung Group that will be equipped with 500 condo rooms, swimming pools, hotels, a convention center, spa facilities, an observatory tower, and additional facilities.
We established the Leesabu Lion Park in August 2011 in order to commemorate the spirit of Admiral Lee Sa-bu who lived 1,500 years ago. The park consists of popular tourist attractions, such as an observatory tower, a children’s playground, four-season sleigh rides, sculpture exhibits, outdoor concert halls, and a park trail.
We have built a 52km-long romantic journey from the observatory tower in the Leesabu Lion Park to the Gopo area. During this journey, tourists can enjoy an ocean tourism resort where they can take in the picturesque scenery of the East Sea, the New Millennium Road, the offshore Ocean Rope Way facilities, and a cruise ship. We have also prepared a seasonal fishing tour by utilizing fishing boats at 17 small and large ports and harbors. Through the Jangho Village Experience Festival, tourists can enjoy the unique lifestyle of this fishing village. Since the festival includes transparent canoe rides for ecology observation, ocean rafting, skin-scuba diving, dragnet fishing and boat fishing, it has gained huge popularity among tourists, with visitor numbers growing every year.
There is a traditional marine product market in Samcheok City that opens at daybreak. The market is very popular among citizens and tourists because they can purchase fresh fish at low priced. The market opens at 6 am and closes at 9 am. As it is only for a very short period of time, like a lightning bolt, this market is named Lightening Market.
We also have a variety of healthy foods, such as pumpkin liquor and rice with wild herbs and vegetables. I hope you come and make life-long memories in Samcheok City.