An undersea tunnel linking South Korea's west coast and China's Shandong region could generate economic benefits worth W275 trillion (US$1=W1,166) for Korea, China and Japan, a study says.
The study was unveiled at an international seminar on the tunnel in Seoul on Thursday. It was organized by the Gyeonggi Research Institute (GRI) under the sponsorship of China's Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.
GRI vice president Cho Eung-rae said if the tunnel is built, it will produce economic benefits worth W116 trillion for Korea, W150.7 trillion for China, and W8.6 trillion for Japan.
Linking express railways in the two countries, the tunnel would shorten travel from Seoul to Shanghai to five hours and 31 minutes and to Beijing to four hours and 26 minutes, he said. This could result in creating a huge economic sphere linking about 24 million people in the Seoul area with some 272.1 million in the Beijing and Shanghai regions.
One participant said such a tunnel could eventually be part of a route linking Japan to Europe. Xu Yunfei, a senior engineer with the Shandong Research Institute of Communications, said, "If a Korea-China tunnel turns out to be a success, the construction of a Korea-Japan tunnel could also be pushed. If these tunnels link overland railways in Central Asia afterwards, it could create a modern version of the Silk Road."
In January last year, Gyeonggi Province suggested to the central government that an undersea tunnel be built to link the west coast of South Korea and the Shandong region of China to galvanize exchanges between Northeast Asian nations. The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs is conducting a feasibility study, and the Presidential Committee on Balanced National Development also pledged in July to review the idea.