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Abrupt decision on the 1st step of S. Korea’s energy master plan for end of nuclear power

Abrupt decision on the 1st step of S. Korea’s energy master plan for end of nuclear power

Posted July. 15, 2017 07:14,   

Updated July. 15, 2017 07:50


Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) has decided to temporarily suspend construction of Shin Kori reactors 5 & 6. The decision was made to follow the direction of President Moon Jae-in as he pledged to make Korea nuclear free during his presidential campaign. However, critics said that the board of KHNP rushed through the approval early morning without sufficient discussion.


KHNP board members met at Suites Hotel in Gyeongju, South Gyeongsang Province, at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and 12 out of the 13 directors voted for the suspension. The decision will be implemented for three months after the government sets up an ad hoc committee to gather public opinions.


The gathering of KHNP was like a top secret military operation. KHNP intended to hold the board meeting at 3 p.m. Thursday at its headquarters but failed to pass the vote due to the opposition of labor union. Thus, KHNP decided to hold the meeting at the hotel 16 kilograms away from the headquarters.


For the meeting set at 8:30 a.m., the company made phone calls and sent text messages to board members from the afternoon of the previous day and urged them to attend the meeting by 9 a.m. As rUmors spread that the board meeting would be held in early next week, union members and local residents were reluctant to keep watch on the board meeting.


Many criticized that KHNP hastily approved the suspension. The meeting began at 9:20 a.m. and the board members finished voting in 30 minutes. KHNP's union argued that the company rushed through the approval that could be seen only under the military regime and said it would apply for an injunction order to suspend the decision.

The People’s Party also condemned by saying that a country’s energy master plan was determined like a military operation and such process was similar to the one that the former Park Geun-hey administration decided to deploy THAAD system.  


Some argued that KHNP’s decision undermined the government’s intention of making Korea free of nuclear power. “The decision to scrap all nuclear plants in Korea was made after discussing the issue only for 20 minutes at the Cabinet meeting and there are procedural problems as it was determined like conducting a military operation," said Joo Han-gyu, professor of Nuclear Engineering Department at Seoul National University. "The end of nuclear power should be fully discussed and the government must persuade people to achieve the goal.”


Gun-Huk Lee gun@donga.com