Ongjin County of Incheon Metropolitan Metropolis consists of a gaggle of scenic islands within the West Sea (Yellow Sea). However its main islands are troublesome to entry as they’re positioned distant from the mainland. Particularly, 5 of them, Daeyeonpyeong Island, Soyeonpyeong Island, Baengnyeong Island, Daecheong Island, and Socheong Island, are positioned close to the Northern Restrict Line (NLL), a maritime demarcation line between South and North Korea. But, accessibility to the islands is predicted to enhance with the development of an airport on Baengnyeong Island. Following is an interview with Moon Kyung-bok, governor of the county. — Ed.
Query: Most of Ongjin County’s scenic islands are distant from the mainland. However expectations are rising as an airport might be constructed on Baengnyeong Island, which is essentially the most well-known among the many islands.
Moon: After taking workplace because the governor of the county final 12 months, I centered my administrative energy on the development of a small airport on Baengnyeong Island, which was one among my election pledges. The airport building plan handed the federal government’s preliminary feasibility examine on Dec. 27 final 12 months. This 12 months, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will choose an organization for the institution of a primary plan for Baengnyeong Airport and conduct an environmental impression evaluation. I count on that the airport will be capable to begin service in 2029. When a flight service is launched to and from Baengnyeong Island, it can reduce the journey time from the mainland to the island from 4 hours by sea to at least one hour, making it a extra accessible tourism vacation spot.
Q: What number of islands does Ongjin County have in complete?
Moon: The county consists of a complete of 115 islands, with 24 of them inhabited and 91 uninhabited. The maratime area belonging to Ongjin County is estimated at 15,260 sq. meters, which is 25 occasions the dimensions of Seoul. Every island has its personal pure wonders, so backpacking and trekking folks proceed to go to them. The county can also be well-known for varied meals stuffs similar to blue crabs, clams, skate, sand lances, dried seaweeds, candy pumpkins, grapes, white candy potato and buckwheat. Accordingly, the county is a pleasant place to go to for gourmand vacationers.
Q: It’s not doable to construct airports on all of these islands. It nonetheless appears troublesome for vacationers to go to them by ship.
Moon: Regardless of how stunning an island is, folks might be reluctant to go to it if it takes an excessive amount of money and time to go there. It is for that reason that the county’s economic system is weak and the islanders’ dwelling circumstances are robust. The islanders have to pay excessive prices to take their high-quality seafoods to the mainland and convey housing supplies to the islands. Generally, they can’t ship emergency sufferers to hospitals on the mainland earlier than it’s too late. The identical goes for vacationers who need to go to the islands. The one-way passenger ferry fare is 71,700 received to Baengnyeong Island, 55,300 received to Yeonpyeong Island, and 24,800 received to Deokjeok Island, so a household of 4 must pay tons of of hundreds of received for a visit to those islands.
Particularly, according to a current surge in oil costs, extra gasoline surcharges have been imposed on passenger ship fares, additional rising the burden of ferry service customers. Presently, the central authorities is subsidizing ferry fares for island residents. The Ongjin County Workplace and Incheon Metropolis Authorities are making efforts to decrease ferry fares for island residents, Incheon residents and residents of different provinces and cities visiting the county. The 2 native governments make investments greater than 13 billion received yearly in a passenger ship fare cost venture alone. The county workplace is making ready to advertise a common fare system for all passengers to enhance accessibility to the county.
Q: We perceive that comparatively shut islands are constructing bridges between them. Would you inform us extra concerning the venture?
Moon: To drastically increase island accessibility, Ongjin County is selling the development of bridges connecting islands and bridges connecting islands and the mainland. Yeongheungdaegyo Bridge and Seonjaedaegyo Bridge join islands and the mainland within the county. Island-to-island bridges embrace Sinsido Bridge and Simodo Bridge and Deokjeoksoya Bridge. An island-to-mainland bridge between Yeongjong Island and Sindo might be accomplished in 2025 and a bridge between Daeijak Island and Soijak Island might be inbuilt 2027. Aside from these, we’re conducting feasibility research on the development of a second Yeongheungdo Bridge, bridges between Seungbong Island and Daeijak Island and between Jangbong Island and Mo Island and between Baengnyeong Island and Daecheong Island.
Q: Ongjin County can also be being affected by a drop in younger folks and a low delivery fee. Do you’ve gotten any plans to deal with the issue?
Moon: My plan is to spice up the county’s inhabitants to no less than 30,000. I launched a inhabitants coverage staff in 2022. The county’s inhabitants stood at 20,613 as of the top of December 2022, a rise of 271 from a 12 months in the past. Among the many complete inhabitants, 1,313 residents have been beneath the age of 14 and 6,100 folks have been over the age of 65. Each age teams accounted for 29.6 p.c of the full inhabitants. Over the previous six years, the younger inhabitants has been on a gradual decline, whereas the aged inhabitants has been on the rise. With the objective of reaching a inhabitants of 30,000, the county created a sensible agricultural city, a sea station vacationer heart and a marine leisure ecological resort, and promoted a venture to nurture younger native creators in 2022. This 12 months, we are going to promote the creation of a nationwide geological park.
Ongjin County has chosen 58 core duties for its inhabitants insurance policies in 5 sectors, making an allowance for regional traits and modifications in demographic construction. The job and economic system sector has 21 initiatives, whereas 5 initiatives belong to the housing and transportation sector. Three initiatives are concerned with the tradition and welfare sector and 25 initiatives are for the kids, nurturing and training sector. The overall assist sector contains 4 initiatives. In particulars, Ongjin County gives assist for many who return to the county to stay as fishermen or farmers and home purchases, cost of housing bills to younger folks, the growth of public jobs, rising subsidies for brand spanking new residents within the 5 West Sea islands, making an enchancment to previous homes, the development of nursing services for the aged, international language packages, assist for worldwide marriages, well being care companies for moms and their new child infants and a window for gathering opinions on inhabitants insurance policies amongst others. Ongjin County is on observe to rising the inhabitants to 30,000 by means of these varied custom-made inhabitants insurance policies.