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[Editorial] Why Does Government Cover Up North Korean Electricity Aid Problems?

[Editorial] Why Does Government Cover Up North Korean Electricity Aid Problems?

Posted July. 18, 2005 03:09,   


Concerns and speculations are growing over the government’s important proposal to send electricity amounting to two million kW to North Korea on the condition that North Korea renounces its nuclear development program. The bone of controversy is whether we have such capacity and if we do, whether sending electricity to North Korea is the best possible option.

If the South offers power aid equivalent to two million kW to the North, the power reserve rate for its own Metropolitan area will drop from 15.2 percent to 6.6 percent, and it may cause disruptions in power supply. Experts point out that the Metropolitan Area, which is home to half of the nation’s population and economic power, should maintain a power reserve rate at 14 to 15 percent.

What’s even more troubling is the cost to send power. The government downplays the problem, saying that it will cost 1,550 billion won to lay lines and build power conversion facilities. But the total cost is estimated to reach 3 trillion won if the annual power supply cost (one trillion won) and the cost incurred in relocating some of facilities at the Boryeong combined cycle power plant for Seoul (300billion won) are factored into the sum. The relocation is necessary to ease the chances of a possible power shortage in the Metropolitan Area. There are additional countless obstacles such as upgrading antiquated power lines in the North.

The government has not yet come clean about these problems. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy used the nation’s power reserve rate instead of that of the Metropolitan Area in its press release to cover up problems about the power reserve rate. It didn’t even mention 1 trillion won, the annual cost to supply power to the North.

Many people are casting doubts whether ‘the important proposal’ will work as leverage to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons and open up and reform the reclusive nation. The government also said that the right to halt the power supply to the North will be shared by members of the six party talks. In this case, there should be a permanent body to manage the power supply. And no one can be sure that it can be reduced to another Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), which has become obsolete.

It is another possibility that we wouldn’t be able to send power after laying the lines if U.S-North relations deteriorate over North Korea’s human rights issues. Since the proposal’s future is uncertain, the government should be more careful not to cause doubts in people’s minds. After all, it’s the Korean people who pay all the costs.