South Korea to study undersea tunnel to Kyushu

Kyodo

South Korea said Wednesday it will conduct an economic and technical feasibility study on building undersea tunnels with Japan and China, according to President Lee Myung Bak’s press office.

The decision was made at a meeting of a committee chaired by Lee on regional development that is to draw up plans for nationwide land development by 2020, the office said.

The envisioned proposals are to build an undersea route connecting a southern point in South Korea to a point in Kyushu, and also a point in western South Korea to a point in China’s Shandong Province.

A South Korea-Japan undersea tunnel has been the object of discussions by local governments of the two sides, but the Wednesday decision is likely to elevate the ideas to the central government level.

A South Korea-Japan tunnel, however, has drawn negative reactions from many South Koreans since the idea was first floated when the Korean Peninsula was under Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule.

Whether the proposed project could become a reality remains unclear, considering that the project would cost an estimated 100 trillion won (¥7.5 trillion).

According to the South Korean government, undersea tunnels with Japan and China are aimed at establishing a network of transporting materials when the divided Koreas become unified in the future.

The proposed project for South Korea and Japan is mostly likely to connect Geoje Island near the southern South Korea city Busan to the city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture via Iki and Tsushima islands.

The distance is approximately 230 km at its longest, including overland parts.