As one of the most thriving cities in Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Gimcheon is transforming into an advanced innovative city. With 12 major public corporations and organizations, including Korea Expressway Corporation, KEPCO Engineering & Construction Company, and Korea Transportation Safety Authority, moving into it, Gimcheon City is gathering a new growth momentum. In line with this growth, the City government is constructing new industrial complexes and the innovation city, while expanding transportation networks including railroads as the transportation hub of Gyeongsang-do provinces. The Korea Post recently interviewed Mayor Park Bo-saeng of Gimcheon City. Excerpts are as follows-Ed.
Question: I understand you have nearly completed the project of establishing the Gimcheon Innovation City. What are its progresses now?
Answer: Having started the project of constructing the innovation city in September 2007, the City government completed infrastructure construction project in December last year in total area of 3.805 million square meters, spending 867.6 billion won (approx. US$723 million). Ten major public corporations and organizations, including Korea Expressway Corporation, KEPCO Engineering & Construction Company, Korea Transportation Safety Authority, and National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service, already moved into the new city, and two other organizations such as Korea Construction Management Corporation and Korea Rehabilitation Agency are scheduled to move into it during the first half of this year with total employees of over 5,400. Under the plan of supplying 9,281 apartments in this town to provide convenient and comfortable residential atmosphere, companies have built 6,670 apartments. The City authority is also exerting efforts to improve welfare and education of new residents. A general hospital is expected to be built here soon as the central government enacted a regulation in favor of it, and a private high school was established last year, which then was designated as an autonomous public high school early this year.
Q: You have been successfully developing industrial complexes for years. What progresses have you seen in attracting facility investments?
A: Since I inaugurated as the fourth elected mayor in July 2006, the City government has been developing industrial complexes in a total area of 1 million pyeongs (approx. 3.3 million square meters) to provide insufficient industrial lands. Having completed the first phase industrial complex in area of 240,000 pyeongs, it attracted 620 billion won (approx. US$516 million) of capital investment from public and private organizations, employing 3,000 workers. Its second phase complex in area of 430,000 pyeongs is now under construction with progression of 85%. In this complex, 53 robust companies including Coupang and Kolon Plastic are decided to build production facilities. Nine companies started to build their production facilities and 2 others finished registration of newly built plants. When this second phase of the project, it is expected to generate more than 6,600 new jobs and production inducement effect of 3.3 trillion won (approx. US$2.75 billon). The City government is now making preparation for the third phase project.
Q: The key to vitalizing industrial complexes is undoubtedly convenient transportation. In that vein, have you made any progress in the project of constructing the Southern Inland Express Railway between Gimcheon and Geoje?
A: As the project of constructing an express railway connecting between Gimcheon and Geoje in a distance of 181.6 kilometers that requires a total of 5.7864 trillion won (approx. US$4.822 billion), it will contribute to improving the City’s accessibility to Seoul metropolitan region and south coast economic zone. After extensive discussions and project assessment with the central government, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance allocated 3 billion won (approx. US$2.5 million) for its feasibility study and preparing the master plan.
Q: Gimcheon is establishing itself as the central city of sports. How do you promote marketing to attract sports games?
A: Last year, a total of 48 large scale sports games including 8 international games such as the International Tennis Federation tournaments and Military World Games (swimming, volley ball and football) were held at the Comprehensive Sports Town in Gimcheon. And the National High School Soccer Games were held at the Gimcheon Sports Complex in February this year with participation by 1,200 soccer players. The Comprehensive Sports Town was built in preparation for hosting the National Sports Festival in 2006, consisting of a gymnasium, indoor pool, tennis courts, and an inline rollerblade ground, in total area of approximately 36,360 square meters. The City authority constructed an outdoor pool for diving and an indoor tennis court in 2010, and an additional large scale sports center in 2013. These sports games and off-season training of athletes in the City attract over 228,000 athletes and audience a year, creating substantial ripple effect on the regional economy.
Q: What efforts do you make to promote tourism?
A: Encouraged by our policy of promoting tourism, tourism infrastructures connected with natural resources of the Baekdu Mountain Range are expanding. They include a forest resort, a premium automotive camping ground, trails and cart experience field. In addition to these, the City government is building tourism facilities in the Mt. Hwangak Hayarobi Park, such as the museum of culture, tower of peace, and a village of Korean traditional houses, while developing an eco-friendly ecosystem park with a greenhouse of cactuses, museum of ecology and a garden of wild flowers, as well as other tourism resources.