Gangwon Governor Choi talks about the upcoming 2018 Winter Games and state preparations
AH-LIM CHOI / Korea IT Times
With upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, Gangwon province has become a big priority for Korea. Along with the preparations and development for the games in PyeongChang, the rest of the province has also been busy. A new railway system under construction, the active development of the Okgye district, and a burgeoning biomedical industry has kept the province busy. The Governor of Gangwon, Mr. Choi Moon-Soon sat down with Korea IT Times to discuss these topics as well as his plan for tourism and economic growth in the area.
Preparation for 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics is in progress
Major projects for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, including the construction of six stadiums as well as other infrastructure, will begin by March 2014 for completion in October 2016, Gangwon Province Gov. Choi Moon-Soon said.
In an interview with Korea IT Times, Gov. Choi said, "A total of 699.3 billion won, including 524.5 billion won from the state budget, will be poured into the preparation projects for the PyeongChang Olympics over the coming four years."
Noting that a total of 13 stadiums are necessary to host the Olympics, Choi said, "We will use five existing stadiums and supplement two stadiums, while building six new stadiums. These new stadiums will include two snow sports venues and four ice stadiums.”
"Along with this, we will make a strong push for the construction of nine new roads to expand the network accessible to PyeongChang Alpensia Resort with a total cost of 355.2 billion won. We plan to complete the design by the latter half of 2013 and start the construction work in April 2014 for completion in December 2016." he said.
"In particular, the expansion project of the access network will be propelled to improve road conditions and increase the local residents' income even after the hosting of the Winter Olympics is over as a way of sustaining regional development." Choi stressed.
To secure enough drinking water in preparation for the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, the province also projects to spend a total of 60 billion won to supply 19,000 tons of water a day.
Development of the Okgye district
Commenting that the government recently designated the project to foster non-ferrous metal, materials, and parts cluster in the Okgye district as the core project of the economic free zone in the eastern coast, the governor said, "We plan to build a non-ferrous R&D comprehensive support center in the Okgye district by spending some 540 billion won. Accordingly, the Okgye district will be developed as the materials and parts tailor-made estate."
Right after the designation as an economic free zone, the Okgye District secured 54 billion won worth of tungsten and synthetic graphite investment from a domestic mid-sized enterprise.
"Moreover, Gangwon Province concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on investment in the free economic zone of the eastern coast with the Dundee Group of Canada, a world-famous investor, on Sept. 24." he said.
East-West high speed railroad
Pointing out that Gangwon Province is lagging behind in terms of the road and railroad networks compared with the other provinces Korea, he said, "the railroad length is just 370km in Gangwon Province, accounting for a mere 4.5 percent of the country's total railroad length of 8,200km.”
"Accordingly, we plan to build the East-West high speed railroad linking Chuncheon and Sokcho by implementing the feasibility study in 2014. If this project is carried out successfully, it will become a core railroad route linking the metropolitan area to the eastern coast and further to Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR). In such a case, it will play a pivotal role for the development of the border area and a chance for peaceful exchange between South Korea and North Korea." he explained.
"In addition, the province is pushing ahead with building the Yeoju-Wonju double track railway and the Wonju-Gangnung double track railway to create environment-friendly railway networks, which enable passengers to access to the metropolitan area within one hour." said the governor.
Gangwon sets economic growth rate at 5.2%
Asked about the detailed plans to achieve the province's 5.2 percent economic growth for 2013, an estimated 2.2 percentage points higher than the nation's economic growth forecast of 3 percent, he said, "Enterprises, including those in the manufacturing industry, are expected to grow by over 4 percent and the construction industry is likely to see a robust 10 percent growth thanks to construction of facilities for the winter Olympics and various state-initiated projects.”
"The public sector is also expected to see a growth of over 5 percent through budget expansion and the service industry will enjoy a robust 4 percent growth through activation of the tourism business, increase in income, and price stabilization." he explained.
To activate increased business activity among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and create a business-friendly environment, the province has engaged in the "campaign to love the products of our hometown," which calls for the private and government sectors to support and purchase goods produced in the province.
"At the same time, we will expand financial assistance to SMEs by 28 percent from the previous year to 124.6 billion won. We already established the SME convergence support center in May 2013 to support start-ups, marketing, knowledge property, and technology convergence R&D projects." he said.
"For the first time in the country, the province also enacted an integrated ordinance to attract investment, which calls for preparation of the frame to lure the investment of enterprises and support for fresh demands such as an economic special zone, business start-ups, and tourism." he said.
To boost the business activity of small business owners, the province also plans to invest 16.5 billion won for a project to modernize the facilities of traditional markets and hold "celeb marketing" events along with celebrities.
"We will make all-out efforts to attain the 5.2 percent economic growth target this year through the promotion of exports, creation of more jobs, the construction of Lego Land, activation of the tourism industry, increase in individual income and price stabilization." he explained.
New Mecca of medical & bio industry
Stressing that the province has been fostering bio, medical instrument, new materials, disaster prevention, and plasma sectors as its strategic industry, Gov. Choi said, "The industry has grown by over 20 percent on an annual average basis, emerging as the province's key growth engine. In 2012, 766 enterprises employed a total of 17,000 workers and posted 3.8 trillion won in combined sales.”
"In the future, the province will push for a project to create a global nano-bio technology industry convergence district for development of the nano-bio industry that combines bio, medical instrument, and plasma sectors. It will also push ahead with the non-ferrous materials & parts cluster project in the eastern coast by making the best use of the non-ferrous metals which are affluent in the coast." he noted.
"In a separate move, we will actively foster the Wonju area as a production estate for state-of-the-art medical instrument." he said.
Global-level tourism of Gangwon
Gov. Choi also said that the province will create a global-level tourism site around Yangyang International Airport by building recreational facilities, hotels and a shopping center, which introduced the concept of the 3S (sightseeing, sports, and shopping) on a land of 700,000 pyeong (2,224,200 square meters).
"We will invest a total of 228.4 billion won to build condominium with 150 rooms, pensions with 275 rooms and a hotel with 50 rooms, an outlet, and a water park. Through the project, we expect 783.4 billion won worth of economic ripple effects during the 2013~2016 period and creation of 500 jobs, while securing 4.649 billion won in annual tax revenue." he said.
On Kangwon Land, which runs the casino business that only caters to foreigners, Gov. Choi said, "Kangwon Land and High 1 Resort have grown up as one of the nation's representative resorts, they have made great contributions to introducing tourists to Gangwon Province and activating the province's tourism industry. Visitors to Kangwon Land spent 188.4 billion won for tourism in 2009."
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