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Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council approves railway construction between Gangneung and Jejin on the Donghae Bukbu Line


o On April 23, the government resolved to commence railway construction between Gangneung and Jejin on the Donghae Bukbu Line. At the 313th session of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, presided over by Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul at the ministry’s grand conference room, the Ministry of Unification recognized the railway construction project as an inter-Korean exchange and cooperation project and finalized the implementation plan.

    * Governmental members (13 persons): Minister of Unification (chairperson), vice ministers of Economy and Finance; Foreign Affairs; Unification; Justice; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Trade, Industry and Energy; Health and Welfare; Land, Infrastructure and Transport; and Culture, Sports and Tourism, and vice minister-level officials from the Office of National Security; the Office for Government Policy Coordination; and the National Intelligence Service. 

    * Non-governmental members (five persons): Koh Yu-hwan (Dongguk University), Kim Sung Kyung (Institute for Far Eastern Studies), Kim Jung-soo (Korea Institute for Women and Peace), Yang Moo Jin (University of North Korean Studies), and Yang Moon Soo (Korean Association of North Korean Studies).

  o The resolution allowed the Gangneung-Jejin railway construction project to break ground as early as possible, exempting it from conducting a preliminary feasibility survey.

      * Article 38(2)4 of the National Finance Act sets forth that any project involving inter-Korean exchange and cooperation or implemented under an agreement or treaty between states shall not be subject to a preliminary feasibility survey.         
  o The Donghae Bukbu Line railway construction project is part of the inter-Korean railway connection project, which has been ongoing since 2000 as agreed between the two Koreas. Local communities have continually pressed the government to complete the project as soon as possible.

  o The leaders of the two Koreas agreed to connect and modernize the inter-Korean railways and expressed their commitment to railway connection in the April 27 Panmunjeom Declaration.

     * South and North Korea agreed on the connection and modernization of railways and roads of the Donghae Line and the Gyeongui Line in the April 27 Panmunjeom Declaration and jointly surveyed the Donghae Line and the Gyeongui Line from November 30 to December 17, 2018.

  o This can be considered a “Korean New Deal” project in that it can promote regional economies and greatly facilitate the balanced development of the country.

    - Once the construction is completed, the Donghae Bukbu Line railway will connect the east-west railway network of the country linking the metropolitan area and Gangwon Province. This will create a positive ripple effect across communities improving logistics, stimulating production at industrial complexes, and promoting tourism.

      * The government plans to establish an integrated railway network in the East Sea Rim area and Gangwon Province by linking the Donghae Bukbu Line to the east-west railways, including the Wonju-Gangneung section (in operation) and the Chuncheon-Sokcho section (scheduled to open in 2027), and the Donghae Jungbu and Nambu Line (Busan-Samcheok) railways (scheduled to open in 2022).

  o The inter-Korean railways will be modernized simultaneously with the connection of the Donghae Bukbu Line. And, if the Trans-Korea Railway and the Trans-Siberia Railway are connected, the railway network will serve as the foundation for cooperation in transportation, logistics, and energy, which will in turn accelerate the establishment of an economic community in Northeast Asia.

  o The government plans to complete construction of the railway between Gangneung and Jejin on the Donghae Bukbu Line as soon as possible, in close consultation with local communities in Gangwon Province.