No more delay for Jeju base

Tensions are mounting on Jeju Island as the Navy has started preparatory work for the construction of a naval base on the island amid vehement protests from the local government and environmentalists.

On Wednesday, builders began demolition work on the construction site, removing parts of a rocky outcrop that environmental activists claim to have high geological value and therefore deserves preservation.

Jeju Governor Woo Keun-min and other leading politicians of the island requested that the Navy stop the works temporarily as the finalized design of the naval base has serious defects that need to be corrected.

As the Navy rejected the request, Woo said he would issue an administrative order to bring the construction work to a temporary halt. His order, however, can be overruled by the minister of land, transportation and maritime affairs if deemed unjustified.

Woo and other critics of the project assert that the naval base, if built based on the current design, would not be able to accommodate two 150,000-ton cruise ships at the same time, a requirement that the base should meet to serve as a cruise ship port. 

Yet the central government views this demand as unrealistic. It notes that among the more than 340 cruise ships in operation around the world, there are only six or seven 150,000-ton liners. Furthermore, it says, cruise ships of such a large size have almost never docked at a port in the Northeast Asia region. In South Korea, only 80,000-ton ships dock.

The government also says people who oppose the base for environmental reasons are exaggerating the risks because protective measures will be taken for the local environment and cultural properties.

If another simulation is conducted, construction will have to be halted for another seven months. The project had been in limbo for more than four years since the Roh Moo-hyun government decided to push it in June 2007.

The protest against the base reminds us of the “Mount Cheonseong salamander case,” a suit filed by an environmentalist monk in 2004 to prevent salamanders in the mountain from being endangered by the construction of a tunnel for the KTX.

The court rendered a verdict against the Buddhist priest, allowing the tunnel to be built as planned. But the suit caused a long delay and a huge cost increase. It was found later that the tunnel construction had not affected the salamanders’ habitat. The animal still thrives in the area.

The naval base is necessary for the nation to observe and protect our southern maritime territory and sea traffic. And Jeju Island is indisputably the ideal location for it. It’s time to stop unnecessary arguments and speed up the project.

Recently, Mounting the navy base in jeju island became the issue in Korea. People who object to this project have been standing face to face with the police since last week.
In these days  China and Japan have been focused to increase their naval power and it'll be possibly used to dominate ocean. jeju island is surrounded by water on three sides and it's importance as a travel destination and military hub has been increasing fast.

I know destroying natural environment is very sad thing but people have to coexist with nation. For this, that is inevitable. I think that they should find a compromise to minimize damage to environment and to improve their naval power.

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