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S Project

Posted May. 28, 2005 03:29,   


“Does ‘S Project’ refer to a plan to develop the Southwest coast? Is it different from the ‘J Project?’”

This is what Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan said during a conversation with a few senior officials on May 26, according to an official of the Office of the Prime Minister. The fact that even a prime minister, who is supposed to control all national affairs, is confused about the two demonstrates the obscure identity of the projects.

While the S Project was created by the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative, the J Project was pushed by South Jeolla Province, whose initial is the name of the project. The size of S Project is far larger than the other.

S Project-

The Committee plans to build a complex comprising distribution, IT, and bioengineering centers by attracting $50 billion in foreign investment in coastal areas like Muan, Yeong-am, and Mokpo in South Jeolla Province. The long-term project to be completed by 2025 also states that it will make a city with 2.5 million in population, a third of whom will be foreigners.

The Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative formulated a plan to inject $20 billion from Singapore through Kim Jae-bok, a president of Haengdam Island Development Corporation, into the project.

The committee and Kim signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) last July, and the company completed its report containing ideas about the S Project, which was sent to President Roh Moo-hyun.

However, some doubts about the possibility of constructing a city of 2.5 million residents have arisen, considering the province only has two million people.

J Project-

The J Project is a plan to build a complex leisure city of 500,000 residents in Haenam and Yeong-am on 32 million pyeong of reclaimed land with 30 golf courses, 20 hotels, 20,000 senior citizen houses, foreign universities, foreign hospitals, casinos, marine resorts, and family recreation centers.

Regarding the project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2016 with $30 billion in funds at home and abroad, South Jeolla Province concluded the basic agreement of the J Project and signed on to a model projects proposal with 11 domestic companies and seven foreign companies on April 11.

The biggest investment group in Korea is the Federation of Korean Industries & the Korea National Tourism Organization consortium, the South Jeolla Development Corporation consortium, and M Bridge Holdings, an investment and development company, have also joined.

Among foreign investors are the Federation of Japanese Industries, the Bin Omair Holdings Group of the United Arab Emirates, and the Rockingham Consortium of the U.S.

South Jeolla Province submitted an application to the government for selecting the J Project as a case project of a leisure-style corporate city on April 14.

Haengdam Island Development-

The Korea Highway Corporation started a development project in 1999 with Econ Group. The company went bankrupt in 2002, and its affiliated company, EKI, has been involved in the project. At first, the project was about building a resting place on Haengdam Island, and a marine theme park and golf courses on reclaimed land, but the corporation changed the plan in the face of opposition from environmentalists.

In the process, Kim Jae-bok, who bought stocks of EKI, became a de facto player in the project, but the project hit several snags because of conflicts between Kim and the corporation.

While preparing for the project, Kim allegedly tried to pressure the Korea Highway Corporation through Jung Chan-yong, Senior Secretary to the President for Personnel Affairs, and Moon Jung-in, head of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative.

Yong-GwanJung Seung-Ho Jung yongari@donga.com shjung@donga.com