Thursday, September 11, 2008

South Korea's Seven Economic Zones

In its efforts to become more internationally competitive, South Korea's government plans to group areas of the nation into seven major economic zones or blocs as indicated in the accompanying graphic (click on the graphic to see a full-sized image).  According to the Korea Times, each bloc will be assigned with one or two leading industries as part of government efforts to promote balanced development and turn the nation into a globally competitive business hub. As part of the overall plan, the government plans to spend 25 trillion won out of state coffers and attract another 25 trillion won from the private sector over the next five years, implementing 30 development projects aimed at expanding roads, railways and other infrastructure, as well as nurturing talented manpower.  The Korea times further notes that "Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province will be transformed into a global business hub, equipped with knowledge-based service industries.  Chungcheong Province will be fostered as Korea's Silicon Valley and a research and development hub for Northeast Asia. Two other observations come to mind with regard to the regional distribution of leading industries in South Korea.  One is that information and communication technologies (ICT) are a key underlying element for all of these industries.  The fundamental building blocks of the information age will be necessary for success in each and every industry.  Second, it is notable that Gangwon Province is split, with the northern part of the province being in North Korea and the DMZ.  The graphic used here shows only the southern part of the province, which is in South Korea.  In fact, the governor of Gangwon Province recently announced a plan to develop a "Peace Zone" in the present demilitarized zone portion of the province.  As reported in the Korea Times, the governor said that "In the peace zone will be a tourism area connecting the North's Mt. Geumgang and the South's Mt. Seorak, an industrial complex like Gaeseong, and a 'peace city' on the border which will be a gateway between the two Koreas."  Governor Kim also said the province has already proposed some of the joint projects to North Korea, where they were welcomed.  "But such projects will be possible only after the governments of the two Koreas agree to them."

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