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[JEJU FORUM] ‘Eco-friendly energy is an expanded concept of peace’

May 23, 2016 - 17:51 By Kim Da-sol
With Jejudo striving to become a carbon-free island by 2030, the province’s Gov. Won Hee-ryong said hosting of the 11th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity could not be more fitting.

“Eco-friendly energy is a new and expanded concept of peace as it can overcome resource competition amongst nations and the global crisis of climate change,” said Won, governor of Jeju Special Self-governing Province and chairman of Jeju Forum’s organizing committee.

“We must go beyond the simple notion of peace against war in order to creatively expand the scope of peace and level of cooperation.”

As part of the efforts to transform Jejudo into a carbon-free island, Won has set out innovative plans since he took office in 2014.

By year 2030, the province plans to replace all cars with electric vehicles and build large-scale sunlight generation facilities on unused farms and public land lots to promote new and renewable energy businesses to serve as new sources of income for the residents. By the same year, the province will also be producing a total of 6,605Gwh of wind power generation.

“Right on Jejudo Island, we will be opening up a world of electric cars that are run by wind,” Won said.

With these plans, the emission of greenhouse gas in the region is to be reduced by 90 percent and create some 50,000 new jobs, in addition to taking a lead in the world’s energy market.

Already, as of 2015, 40 percent of South Korea’s eco-friendly electric cars run in the province -- a total of 2,366 units –- and 7,000 more will be on the roads by the end of 2016. 

Won said Jeju Forum will also amply address the issues of environment risks and new sources of energy during sessions such as the “Strategies and Global Cooperation for the Transition to a Low-Carbon Climate Resilient Economy” on May 25. He will also hold talks with JB Straubel, cofounder of Tesla Motors on the “revolutionary Changes Electric Vehicles Will Bring to Our Lives.”

“Through Jeju Forum and other projects pertaining to energy and peace, Jejudo wishes to contribute to constructing a silk road of peace that enables coexistence and cooperation,” Won said.

A former prosecutor and three-term lawmaker, Won was elected as governor of his hometown in June 2014. 

As a promising member of the ruling Saenuri Party, Won’s moves in and outside the National Assembly have garnered public attention, such as when he pushed the “hyeopchi” policy of maximizing citizen participation in policy and decision-making.

Having entered the half-point of his tenure ending in 2018, Won said he was full of drive and optimism to accomplish key policies and mend accompanying conflicts amongst varying interest groups.

The second international airport for the resort island -- where over 5 million locals and foreigners visited in just the first four months of this year -- is to be opened by 2025. 

“We will prepare realistic measures such as compensation, relocation and noise countermeasures for residents of the scheduled site of Seongsaneup,” he said. A comprehensive air city will also be designed and built near the airport to boost the local economy, he added.

Other high-profile projects include launching a cruise tour at its landmark naval base in the southern town of Gangjeong, formally called the Jeju Civilian-Military Complex Port.

The Korean Navy’s new base was completed after much delays in February this year to improve the coastal defense capability by accommodating 20 warships, three submarines and two 150,000-ton cruise vessels at the same time. Cruise liners will dock at the port from July 2017.

The port is expected to boost the island’s tourism industry with more than 1 million cruise tourists expected to visit it annually from 2020.

The plan, however, has also been opposed by many residents and environmentalists citing ecological damage and procedural errors. The Navy has moved to seek for a right to indemnity earlier this year citing extensive budget that arose from the delays due to protests.

“I will be persuading (the Navy) to withdraw the suit. It is the Navy that must reach out a hand of reconciliation first. The losses suffered by the Navy must be handled by the state and the Navy must offer the olive branch to the residents. I will fulfill my role to mediate and persuade in that aspect,” Won said.

The veteran politician, who has been considered an outspoken and standout reformative member of the ruling party, also took time to lend his thoughts on the current politics. His Saenuri Party was pulled down from the majority and No. 1 status in the crushing April general election.

“The Saenuri Party is immersed in its own power struggle while trying to be on the good side of the president. While such a way may be somewhat required in politics, an explicit showing of such manners without caring for the people and their livelihood has led to its supporters abandoning the party,” Won said.

“The first thing the Saenuri Party must do is to find the people who voted for President Park Geun-hye in the presidential election (in 2012) but did not vote for the party this time, and ask them the reason and ways for them to return.