Go to contents

Amid Protests, Nanji Golf Course Finally Opens

Posted October. 05, 2005 07:18,   


Amid an unresolved conflict between the SOSFO (Seoul Olympic Sports Promotion Foundation), the Seoul city government and environmental groups, Nanji golf course (nine holes, 110,000 pyeong), which has been neglected for eighteen months after its completion, opened on October 4, with no charge for admission.

SOSFO opened the golf course in the face of the opposition of the Seoul city government, citing the reason that opening cannot wait any longer is because its management cost amounts to 150 million won per month.

Golfers welcomed the opening and they stayed overnight to receive free admission tickets that were distributed on a first-come-first-served basis. However, the Seoul city government said it would charge compensation, saying that SOSFO was using the site without permission. Environmental groups decided to stage a tent demonstration indefinitely in front of the Seoul city hall starting October 5, saying that the golf course should be turned to a family park.

SOSFO distributed wrist bands from 5:00 a.m. The first tee-off was made at 6:28 a.m. when the sun rose. From 9:00 p.m. on October 3, the eve of the opening, people flocked to the golf site and they cooked at the entrance while staying outside overnight. Some 340 people came to the golf course that can hold 240 people, so about 100 people had to return home empty-handed. SOSFO plans to open the course for free for the time being except on Sundays.

Jo Jeong-hwan (51), who went for an afternoon round, said, “I had to stand in line from 4:00 a.m. to receive an admission ticket. It is inconvenient for me to go outside Seoul to play golf since there is no golf course in Seoul. Golf is now a popular sport, so I think there should be more golf courses that charge affordable fees.”

Kim Nam-soo (39), who stood in line from 2:00 a.m., said, “There is a shortage of facilities. I hope we can book the course online because people from distant areas have difficulty booking the course. I am satisfied with the quality of the course. I hope there are more courses like this.”

In the meantime, Choi Gwang-bin, park manager for Seoul, said, “We plan to charge compensation of 1.1 billion won for a year for the use of the golf site without permission. Even though we will not take any physical measures anytime soon, administrative steps will be taken.” SOSFO is considering taking legal action and demanding reparations for being unable to open the course until now.

Meanwhile, around 30 members of “Civic Solidarity for Turning Nanji Golf Course into a Family Park” held a gathering in front of Nanji-do and Seoul city hall and argued that the Nanji golf site should be turned to a family park.

Moon kuk-hyeon (56, CEO of Yuhan-Kimberly), a group co-representative, said, “The Nanji golf course that has beautiful scenery is suitable to become a park and can accommodate over 100,000 people a day. It is not right to open this place only to 240 people. The golf course should be returned to citizens, even if we even may have to raise 14.6 billion won of principal that SOSFO invested in the course and give the money to SOSFO.”

Won-Hong Lee Tae-Hun Hwang bluesky@donga.com beetlez@donga.com