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.
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.