Press Relations Article

[Reading the world] Dig deep until you can make it / Park Chan Hee

About 50 minutes by car from Izuhara, the central city of Tsushima, Aso Bay, home to many islands, appeared in front of us. Aso Bay was an area that General Lee Jeong-moo of the Korean army used as an attack point in subjugating the Japanese army. The narrow, one-lane coastal road was followed by a winding mountain road. As I climbed about 2km up a newly constructed mountain road, I saw a vast expanse of the ocean. "Can you see it? That's South Korea's Geoje Island. It's about 60 km away. Once the Japan-Korea Undersea Tunnel opens, it will cross over to South Korea." An official from the Japan-Korea Tunnel Study Group explained, It was realistic and sincere.


The Japan-Korea Tunnel Study Group held the ``Japan-Korea Tunnel Tsushima-Japan-Korea Leaders Forum'' on the 15th and 16th of last year, and unveiled the Tsushima investigation slope of the Korea-Japan Tunnel located in the Are area near Izuhara. Japan's International Highway Foundation built a 2km approach road in 2014, and then dug an 8m wide and 10m long inclined shaft here. This inclined shaft will be used to excavate up to 1km into the seabed and conduct seabed geological surveys and research on construction methods for the Tsushima West Channel, as well as for the pilot tunnel (advanced guide shaft) for the Korea-Japan Undersea Tunnel that will be constructed in the future.


Digging an exploration tunnel for an undersea tunnel without an agreement or even consensus between South Korea and Japan may seem reckless, but things are rapidly approaching. The impact was even greater than that of the first test pit (580m) dug in Karatsu, Kyushu in 1986. The Tsushima Exploration Pit seemed like a kind of banner to declare and establish Tsushima as a relay point for the Korea-Japan undersea tunnel and a key location in Northeast Asia.


The Korea-Japan Undersea Tunnel is a project of the century proposed by Sun Myung Moon, president of the Unification Church, in 1981. Since the mid-1980s, the International Highway Foundation has been working in Karatsu (200,000 m2), Iki (50,000 m2), and Tsushima (1 million m2) in Kyushu to use as submarine tunnel bases, gaining the understanding of the people in those areas. With cooperation, we have been steadily purchasing land. Last August, submarine tunnel branches were formed in 47 prefectures across Japan. Considering that the amount of funds invested so far has reached 300 billion won, it cannot be called a thoughtless private project.


It seems that there is still strong opposition in South Korea. At one point, former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun expressed their intention to promote it, and former President Lee Myung-bak even directed research into it, but the conclusion was negative. It was said that there was little economic benefit. The other day, journalist Yoo Shi-min stirred up controversy by saying, ``If the Korea-Japan Undersea Tunnel is built, Busan Port will lose its advantage as the starting and ending point of the Eurasian Railway, and it will be destroyed.'' A ``Petition to ban the Korea-Japan submarine tunnel'' was posted on the Blue House's national petition bulletin board, with 13,894 people agreeing to the petition. The unresolved past history between Korea and Japan is also an ambush. It is also true that the issue of the Japan-Korea tunnel has hints of militarism such as the Conquest of Korea and the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.


However, does this mean that we should not even engage in research and discussion on issues like this? Then it would be like becoming a frog in a well. There are good reasons why your opponent moves. When we remember the past when we responded without knowing the other person, we cannot overlook knowledge. What would we do if our fate depended on it?


The Japan-Korea tunnel is a difficult issue that cannot be easily argued for or against, but it is an urgent and important future issue. The world's longest project (250km), project cost of 100 trillion won, severe undersea construction, ensuring safety, and stock adjustment between Korea and Japan are important issues.


There are important international dynamics at play here. In addition to rebuilding Korea-Japan relations, the complex functions of Northeast Asia's new economy, new civilization, and new order are intervening. It is also connected to China's One Belt, One Road initiative and the Northeast Asian Railway Community announced by President Moon Jae-in. This means that in addition to economic considerations, we must also consider international dynamics and a vision for the future.


Even if it is less economical now, will it still be so in 10 or 30 years? This is an issue that should be deeply discussed and considered. What the international community of the 21st century is aiming for is connectivity, or even superlinks. We must research ways to truly defeat Japan. The Korea-Japan Tunnel Research Association is active mainly in Busan, but public interest is weak.


At the end of the Tsushima Forum, International Highway Foundation Chairman Hirofumi Sato made a meaningful speech. "Economists flee when they are not profitable. Politicians withdraw their plans if they object. However, we are 'Digging deep' from a long-term perspective." This phrase comes from the British "monocle." This is the title of an article in the magazine's June 2017 issue that featured the Korea-Japan Tunnel. On the way back to Busan, the words ``digging deep'' kept running through my mind.


Columnist/Story Rap Representative


Translated the November 27, 2018 issue of Kokusai Shimbun


You can download the PDF of the original article above here.


You can download the Japanese translation PDF here.

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