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Security Experts Emphasize Strategic & Economic Importance of Jeju Naval Base Updated: 2012-03-16 12:00:00 KST

Security Experts Emphasize Strategic & Economic Importance of Jeju Naval Base
[Reporter : Choi Geun-chang, College student] "To my knowledge, Korea's naval force down south is rather weak. For national security, it's right to build a base on Jeju Island."


[Reporter : Gi Sung-ji, College student] "I oppose building a base on Jeju Island. The island is a famous tourist attraction that lots of foreigners visit."


[Reporter : Kim Yeon-ji, Reporter
yjkim@arirang.co.kr] "People here have mixed feelings about buildng a naval base on Jeju Island. But security experts emphasize the strategic and economic importance of the project."

Jeju Korea's southern-most island attracted nearly 9 million tourists in 2011 alone.
The island, recently dubbed one of the seven wonders of nature, has long been on the list of potential sites for a new naval basethanks to its prime location along the nation's maritime transport route.


[Reporter : Park Chang-kwoun, Senior Research Fellow
Korea Institute for Defense Analyses] "Jeju Island is an outpost that leads to our southern waters. 99-percent of Korea's exports and imports are shipped via sea routes. And 100-percent of strategic resource imports like petroleum comes through these sea lanes."

Park says Korean governments have considered building a naval base on the island since as early as the 1990s. But it wasn't until 2007 that the government honed in on the current site, Jeju's Gangjeong Village after negotiating with the local village council.
Military experts say a base on Jeju would bolster Korea's readiness in light of ongoing jurisdictional disputes with neighboring countriesspecifically with regard to the sea surrounding the peninsula.
Proponents of the project point out that it would take considerably less time for a naval ship to travel from Jeju to Ieodothan for a naval ship to travel from Busan, home to Korea's naval command center.
Ieodo is a submerged reef south of Jeju, over which China has recently claimed its jurisdiction.


[Reporter : Park Chang-kwoun, Senior Research Fellow
Korea Institute for Defense Analyses] "Ieodo is geographically closest to Korea and falls under Korean jurisdiction. But China, which has territorial disputes over seas with many other countries, is now arguing that Ieodo comes into its jurisdiction. To respond to this effectively, we need diplomacy based on power. And that power comes from the navy. For that, it is necessary to build a naval base on Jeju Island."

Experts add that it would take more than 21 hours for navel ships to travel from Busan to Ieodo, but it would take only 7 hours for ships to travel from Jeju Island.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News.
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