“Gyeongsangbuk-do is promoting large-scale projects to strengthen the competitiveness of traditional industries,” said Lee Cheol-woo, governor of the province.
In an interview with The Korea Post media, Gov. Lee said, “The steel, electronics, auto parts and textile industries that have led the Korean economy are still in good health. Related to this, we plan to actively push for large-scale projects to bolster competitive power of these traditional industries in our province.”
Gov. Lee also said that the decision to relocate the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Integrated New Airport can be considered as the biggest achievement made during my tenure.
The following are excerpts of the Korea Post’s interview with Gov. Lee of Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Question: Would you introduce Gyeongsangbuk-do’s unique urban environment and competitiveness differentiated from other local governments?
Answer: Gyeongsangbuk-do is an urban-rural complex self-governing body composed of 10 cities and 13 counties. It has the largest area among 17 metropolitan governments in Korea.
Until 1970, it had the largest population in the country. Although the population decreased due to the concentration of the metropolitan area and the gross regional product fell a little, the growth potential is not inferior to any other region.
The steel, electronics, auto parts and textile industries that have led the Korean economy are still in good health.
Gyeongsangbuk-do is promoting large-scale projects to strengthen the competitiveness of these traditional industries.
These are the 1 trillion won industrial complex remodeling project, the steel industry's new leap forward technology development project, and the Gangso special R&D zones in Pohang and Gumi.
The foundation for new growth industries such as vaccines, secondary batteries, energy, and bearings is also strong.
It is also well equipped with R&D that can lead the 4th industrial revolution, such as 3rd and 4th generation radiation accelerators, proton accelerators, and universities and research facilities including POSTECH.
It also has great strengths in the cultural tourism sector. Gyeongsangbuk-do is well equipped with a rich history and culture, and a natural ecology of rivers, mountains, and the sea.
There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and seven national parks. There are cultural assets related to Gaya culture, Buddhist culture, and Confucian culture, such as mountain temples, hyanggyo, old houses, and traditional villages.
There are many places suitable for cleanliness, healing, peace of mind, and non-face-to-face tourism, which are the key keywords of tourism in the post-corona era.
Q: Please introduce your major achievements since you were elected as governor by the 7th popular votes?
A: The decision to relocate the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Integrated New Airport can be considered as the biggest achievement.
This project is to build a new airport and move the current military and civilian airports in Daegu. It has been at a standstill for six years since the discussion began before 2014.
After the inauguration as the governor in 2018, it was confirmed in August 2020 in Sobo-myeon and Uiseong-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do, through democratic procedures such as site selection and deliberation-type referendum through local government agreement.
When the new integrated airport opens, the sky road to Daegu and Gyeongbuk will open and it will become a stepping stone for a bigger Daegu and Gyeongbuk to compete with the world.
It is also a great achievement that the public service society has been reborn as a work-oriented organization through change and innovation.
The province received the highest grade for the second year in a row in the best case of government joint evaluation policy.
In addition, in the 2020 public institution integrity measurement conducted by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, it received the highest grade among 17 cities and provinces, which is the highest score received by Gyeongbuk since the comprehensive integrity measurement in 2008.
Laying the foundation for a new industry in the future is also an essential achievement.
The successful quarantine in the province during the COVID-19 pandemic that hit the world last year is also an achievement.
The cohort quarantine of social welfare facilities and the development of a Gyeongbuk-type mask, which Gyeongbuk preemptively implemented, are considered as exemplary cases of K-quarantine.
Q: Would you explain the current status of Daegu-Gyeongbuk integrated new airport construction and future plans?
A: With the construction of Daegu-Gyeongbuk Integrated New Airport, Daegu’s military and civilian airports will be relocated in accordance with the ‘Special Act on Military Airport Relocation and Support’.
The research service that started at the end of last year for the construction of the new integrated airport is progressing smoothly.
Daegu City provides the basic plan for relocating K-2 military facilities including military and civil airports. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport provides a preliminary feasibility study service for civil airports that determine the facilities and size of private airports through air demand analysis. Gyeongbuk Province is propelling the plan to build a wide area transportation network.
When the research service for the new integrated airport construction is completed at the end of this year, the following procedures such as selection of a private business operator and basic and detailed design will be carried out step by step and the port will open in 2028.
The new integrated airport will be built 2.3 times larger than the current Daegu Airport. A long runway of more than 3.5 km and a cargo terminal for medium and large aircraft will also be built.
In addition, 12.4 trillion won will be invested in a total of eight routes to build a transportation network.
Among them, the airport railroad connecting Seodaegu - New Airport - Uiseong is the most important.
When the airport railroad is completed, it will be possible to use the airport in 30 to 40 minutes from Daegu.
We are in close consultation with the government and politicians so that it can be reflected in the national plan to be finalized soon.
Q: Please comment on the preparation status and direction of national sports and athletic competition for the disabled.
A: The National Sports Festival and the Paralympic Sports Festival, called the domestic Olympics, will be held in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, in October.
It is held in Gyeongbuk for the first time in 15 years since the 87th Gimcheon Games in 2006, and it is more meaningful because it contains the meaning of starting new 100 years of Korean sports.
Last year, the event was postponed for the first time in the 100-year history of the National Sports Festival due to COVID-19, but this year, it is expected that it will be held as normal due to the successful vaccination and social distancing.
The complex sports center with a budget of 24.4 billion won will be used as a city/province operation headquarters and a bowling arena during the competition period, and then used as a multi-purpose sports space for citizens.
In addition, facility renovations were completed for stadiums for 40 sports in 12 cities and counties.
We are preparing for the National Sports Festival as a friendly and safe competition.
The opening and closing ceremonies are being prepared in a unique and impressive way by combining the four spirits of Gyeongbuk and the 4th industrial technology.
3,000 volunteers will be recruited and 14,000 cheering supporters will be formed to provide guidance and convenient support to the contest participants.
In particular, we will establish a perfect quarantine system so that participants and visitors can feel safe.
During the competition period, a quarantine team will be operated and doctors and nurses will be deployed at each stadium to prepare for any safety accidents.
Through this competition, we will do our best to make it a sport of harmony and hope.
Q: Please introduce the Gyeongsangbuk-do’s innovation tasks and job creation plan to overcome the economic crisis.
A: Saving the people's livelihood economy facing the crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic is an urgent priority.
In January of this year, the Special Headquarters (T/F) to revive the livelihood of the people under the direct control of the governor was established and a Gyeongbuk-style comprehensive plan to revive the livelihood of the people was established, and all efforts are being made to support small business owners and the self-employed.
The best way is to normalize the ecosystem of self-employment again. Since last March, the government has been conducting a pilot trial for the first time in the country from April 26 on the reorganization plan for distancing that takes into consideration quarantine and economic revitalization at the same time in consultation with the central government.
Another innovation task is to prepare for the era of the 4th industrial revolution. In the era of the 4th industrial revolution, ideas determine the outcome. A major level of change and innovation that destroys the existing methods is needed.
It is difficult to respond by administration alone. The administration, universities, research institutes, and companies are working together as a team to promote a research-oriented innovation course that can make the most of local research capabilities and capabilities.
For example, POSTECH, Gyeongbuk Bio Research Institute, and Gyeongbuk Province collaborated to present a new model for the bio industry. Creating jobs is the top priority of Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Gyeongsangbuk-do is promoting a two-track job strategy in order to stabilize local employment and overcome the employment cliff caused by COVID-19.
First, financial support job projects (186 projects, 116,351 jobs) are being promoted to stabilize the livelihoods of the unemployed and self-employed due to the spread of COVID-19.
As a result, the employment index is improving markedly, with the employment rate rising to 59.7% as of the end of March this year from 57.5% in November last year, and recently returning to the previous year's level.
In addition, it plans to expand future new growth engines with new industries and corporate-oriented jobs beyond overcoming the crisis as the central axis of the job business in 2021.
At the same time, it plans to create jobs by promoting the Gyeongbuk-type job model and attracting companies to the Special Zone for Free Battery and Hemp Regulations.
In preparation for the post-coronavirus era, we will also promote the cultural tourism industry, which has a great job creation effect.