Korea plans new research station | Polarjournal
Jang Bogo Station in Terra Nova Bay is the second base of the South Korean Antarctic Research Mission. Completed in February 2014, the station accommodates 15 people in winter and 60 in summer. The 4,000 square meter building with three wings is one of the larger permanent bases in Antarctica. (Photo: Korea Polar Research Institute)

Korea plans to build an inland Antarctic research station by 2030. In order to better respond to climate change, the construction of the new station makes sense, a press release states. The focus is on global research in this little-known region. This was announced by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in late November.

As part of the comprehensive plan to promote the country’s polar activities, the government also decided to build a next-generation icebreaker to carry out global research projects in the Arctic Ocean.

King Sejong Station was established on February 17, 1988, and renovated in 2018 to upgrade its outdated facilities and provide more space. The renovation increased the station’s research area by 80 percent. During the summer, up to 90 employees of the Korea Polar Research Institute, as well as visiting scientists from other institutions, work at the station. Over the winter, it houses only 17 engineers and scientists who maintain the station and routinely collect data. (Photo: KOPRI)

Korea currently has two Antarctic research stations, King Sejong Station, built in 1988 on King George Island and the Jang Bogo station in Terra Nova Bay established in 2014. A third station is scheduled for completion by 2030. Planners would like to have a site found and selected by 2027.

Once constructed, it would be Korea’s first inland station and the sixth in Antarctica. There are five inland Antarctic research stations operated by the United States, Russia, Japan, and China, and one operated jointly by France and Italy.

The RV “Araon” is Korea’s previous icebreaker and supplies the stations on the one hand and supports the South Korean research program on the other. Image: KOPRI

New icebreaker planned

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries also announced that the Cabinet has approved a budget of $205 million for the construction of a 15,000-ton-class icebreaking research vessel by 2026, which will help Korea lead joint projects in exploring the North Pole. The next-generation icebreaker will have the capacity to break 1.5-meter-thick ice at a speed of three knots, allowing it to penetrate into the high Arctic Ocean. The new icebreaker will replace the “RV Araon”, which entered service in 2009.

Cho Seung-hwan, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries: “Korea is about 30 years late in joining the research activities at the South Pole. However, we have more than made up for this by building two stations in Antarctica and an icebreaker research vessel in recent years.” (Photo: The Korea Herald)

Satellites for the observation of ice melt

The plan also calls for the development of a micro-satellite to monitor the melting of glaciers in polar regions and provide a longer-term scenario of sea level changes.

Korea will strengthen cooperation with eight Arctic countries, including the U.S., Canada and Iceland, through various tailor-made projects and join hands with companies and research institutes at home, the ministry added.

“We will implement the basic plans to find a solution to climate change and develop new advanced technologies,” Ocean Minister Cho Seung-hwan said.

Website: Korea Polar Research Institute

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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