Why were we even talking about an airport in the first place?

OK, so Park Geun-hye is throwing her support behind an airport for the Yeongnam region, a project the Lee Myung-bak administration just canceled:

“It’s regretful that the government broke its promise to the people,” Park told journalists during a visit to Daegu, one of the cities that expected to benefit from the now-canceled airport. “Although the new airport is not economically feasible at this point, I’m confident that it’s needed in the southeastern region.”

Park continued: “I hope [President Lee] won’t break his promise with the people again.”

Lee was wrong for having pledged to build the airport, which strikes me as just another construction-for-construction’s-sake project, and I do feel bad for places like Miryang, which spent money on advertising in places like Seoul to promote their bid for the airport. But really, why was this project even being pushed in the first place? Is there really that much demand for an international airport near Busan? As it is, it seems nobody is using the airport they’ve already got:

“Gimhae Airport’s passenger capacity is 17.8 million per year. About 8 million people used the airport last year, less than half the capacity. Both Miryang and Gadeok claim the number of users will reach 22 million in 2025, but state research institutes have already deduced that there will only be some 15 million users in 2030,” Korea Aerospace University professor Yang Han-mo said.

The other thing that strikes me as odd about this project is that its supporters are pushing it in the name of “balanced regional development.” Balanced regional development might be a good thing, of course, but why then push such a massive project in one of the most highly developed regions in the country? A region, mind you, that already has the Four Rivers Project going on along the Nakdonggang, and to which a great deal of infrastructural investment is being directed due to the, ahem, legislative abilities of Lee Myung-bak’s brother, Lee Sang-deuk?

This is not to rag on Gyeongsang-do, mind you — I consider Gyeongsangbuk-do as my 제2고향, and sure, that region has got its troubles. Still, if you’re going to build a multi-trillion won white elephant, couldn’t the Honam or Chungcheong-do regions use it more?

My guess is that there’s some political calculus going on — the Yeongnam region, and Gyeongsangnam-do in particular, is less reliably GNP than it used to be. In the short term, the airport could win votes, I suppose, but if it bombs, the political repercussions could be felt nationwide.

  • huey222


    And to be accurate, President Lee is not breaking his promise; it’s just that neither of the candidate sites passed inspection (as I understand it). Apparently, 60 points were needed and each site received around 38 or 39 points.

    Take 30% of the money that would have been spent on the new airport and invest that in Gimhae Airport. Take the other 70% and split it between Song-do and Sejong.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Korean Pork!

  • Hamilton

    Samgypsal Chungchi!

    I think it sounds much better than Dwaeji Chungchi, in fact it sounds delicious especially with some seasame leaves, dwaenjong and garlic.

  • cmm

    “OK, so Park Geun-hye — in my humble opinion, the single most opportunist politician in Korea”

    my exact thoughts when I read that article this morning. she must have been absolutely drooling over the opportunity to make her statement the second 2MB made the smart call. and her quote, “Although the new airport is not economically feasible at this point, I’m confident that it’s needed in the southeastern region,” sounds pretty stupid and hopefully didn’t get translated well.

  • http://jikding.wordpress.com/ 조엘

    Well I guess it was a foregone conclusion that she would run in, and most likely win, the next presidential election, but I guess she is wasting no time throwing her hat in the ring by supporting her base while simultaneously disparaging the man that everyone loves to hate. Hell, if I were Korean and she promised to do NO projects that related to rivers, streams or huge wasteful tracts of reclaimed ocean I might vote for her myself.

  • Tommy

    A politician who wants to get attention by trying to separate herself from the current administration (even though it’s her party) to gain some short-term popularity even though the decision was the common-sense one. What a surprise! It’s nice to make promises that you don’t have to keep.

  • Rambutan

    Korea has a lot of these.

    They seem like the South Korean version of the Simpsons’ monorail.

  • milton

    Yangyang, Gunsan, Yeosu, Muan…doesn’t South Korea have enough money-wasting ghost airports as it is?

    And more importantly, how many passenger airports does Gyeongsanam-do, a province of 3 million people, need? This is after all a country that can be traversed in 4 hours by train or bus. Do they really need to open an airport in Miryang so 30,000 passangers Jeju-bound each year don’t have to be inconvenienced by travelling a little further to terminals in Gimhae, Sacheon, or Ulsan?

    Pork, pork, pork, pork, pork, pork, pork, pork….

    As horrible as PGH is, she still beats any liberal candidate hands-down. As a taxpayer here in the RoK, I’d much rather have my tax dollars funneled into wasteful, inefficient make-work pork barrel projects than suffer through five years of watching a imbecilic lefty president prostrate himself before his political master, the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, while funneling those same tax dollars into the North Korean military and being willfully complicit in the subjugation of “people of the same race.”

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    You know, Milton, what I can’t figure out is what PGH has ever done in her political life to justify her being the current frontrunner for president. Love him or hate him, at least LMB did something before running for president. PGH? She had a decent run as chairwoman as the GNP, but beyond that, most of the time I read about her, it’s because she or her people are involved in some sort of political infighting.

  • milton

    I totally agree. She hasn’t done crap except be a thorn in LMB’s side during these past four years. She’s the Paris Hilton of Korean politics: She’s where she is because of her father and she loves attention.

    If I had a vote (and I don’t) she’d be at the very bottom of my list of conservative candidate, but I can’t think of a single leftist politician in Korea that I like more than any conservative…

  • milton

    Some serious breaking news…

    CNN is reporting that Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack earlier today. Diplomatic sources are saying tanks are moving into the heart of Pyongyang…

    This could serious.

  • keith

    ^ Would be wonderful if it was true, but isn’t it a bit late for April fools capers now? I was always told that if you did the joke after midday that you were the fool!

  • DLBarch

    Three-term GNP National Assemblyman (and, I think, still chairman of the NA’s Foreign Affairs Committee), Rep. Park Jin (Jongno ward) would make an excellent Hanara-dang presidential candidate and, one would hope, end all talk of a PGH presidency.


  • R. Elgin

    I would rather promote one of the younger Hanara members since I have met more better educated and better motivated representatives. Especially in Korea, seniority has no benefits other than a politician become more adroit at surviving in a mud pit.

    PGH is not a solution for any problem though she seems to be an ingredient for some strange diet. I know a Western diet is not the best but a fare of PGH could cause more than a little cancer, no matter how tasty the flavor.

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