By Lee Hana
Photos = Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
"A 'New Deal' project for the Korean Peninsula."
This is what Minister of Unification Kim Yeon Chul said on April 27 at a ceremony for the start of the Donghae Bukbu Line project, which will finish a railway connecting the two Koreas, on the second anniversary of the 2018 Panmunjeom Declaration.
"The construction of the Donghae Bukbu Line is a 'New Deal' project for the Korean Peninsula that will revitalize our economy. Once this railway is completed, it will kick off the East Sea economic bloc, a central axis for the peninsula's economy, connected by land and sea and open the era of our east coast," he said.
Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mee also attended the event, and said, "The Donghae Bukbu Line project contributes not only to our balanced national development but also prepares for inter-Korean cooperation in railroads. Because this is a long-cherished project, we aim to complete the master plan by year's end and speed things up by starting construction by the end of next year."
The single-track rail line will stretch 110.9 km between the stations of South Gangneung and Jejin and cost an estimated KRW 2.85 trillion, according to the unification and land ministries. Construction will begin once the master plan and a feasibility study finalize the project's overall scale.
The line is part of an inter-Korean project launched in 2000 to connect rail lines on both sides of the peninsula.
The Research Institute for Gangwon in a 2018 report said the Donghae Bukbu Line will have an economic generating effect of KRW 4.74 trillion in production, KRW 1.91 trillion in added value and the creation of 38,910 jobs 40 years after its completion.