South Korea Is Willing To Invest Nearly 40 Billion Won On a Railroad To Connect North Korea With The World
After South Korean President Moon Jae In and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a historic promise to achieve more unification between the two countries, much of the focus has been put on the blueprint for connecting North Korea to the rest of the world. During the peace talks, President Moon Jae In handed Kim Jong Un a USB drive that contained a blueprint of a railway that would connect Seoul to Shinuiju, North Korea via Pyongyang and Kaesong.
Early last year, in preparation for the unification, the South Korean government had come up with a master plan to unify the Korean peninsula by railway. The plan calls for an investment of about $34.5 billion USD for the improvement and construction of 7 railway lines within North Korea.
An authority of Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) indicated that although the plan was made during the previous administration, it is likely to be used as the foundation for the North-Korea railroad system of the future. The main goal of this plan is to extend the existing Gyeongui Line. The 217 mph, high-speed railway will then connect Seoul to Shinuiju.
Existing lines such as the Gyeongui Line, Pyongra Line (Pyongyang~Najin), Gangwon Line (Pyonggang~Kowon) and Hambuk Line (Chongjin~Najin) will be improved to operate at a speed of up to 62 mph. The current railways of North Korea are known to run at a speed of less than 30 mph due to deterioration. In terms of the Gyeongwon Line (Seoul~Wonsan), only plans for improvement of the Woljeongri~Pyonggang area past the existing Yeoncheon~Cheorwon have been made so far.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has indicated that the Gyeongui Line is most likely the first project to be undertaken. Although the line was restored back in 2003, it is currently not in operation. With an investment of about $186 million USD, the trains are expected to be able to run at an average of 30 mph along the entire Gyeongui Line.
If the plan is successfully carried out, it could possibly help maintain peace between the two countries by acting as a gateway to more trade with China and Europe. It would ultimately connect the major points of commerce including the Shinuiju-Dandong crossing, the Trans-Siberian Railway of Russia, Seoul and Busan of South Korea, and Chongjin and Rajin of North Korea.
Although it is still unclear whether the plan will be put into action or not, the success of the plan could bring about immense change to the transit, trade and political relations of the Korean peninsula.
Previous efforts on the conduct of the railway project since the early 2000s have proved to be unsuccessful due to tensions between the North and South. Moreover, the plans, which will aid in the development of Korea as a whole, would only be accepted by the international community on the premises that North Korea is completely demilitarized. Not to mention, relations between South Korea and China in regards to the THAAD issue is still in the process of being resolved. However, with the great progress that has been made so far in regard to China and North Korea, good news seems to lay ahead for the Korean unification.