Korea has won international approval for its project to build a second base in Antarctica, with construction likely to begin before the end of the year.
The Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs said on Tuesday that its comprehensive environmental evaluation was approved unanimously by all 33 member states of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, which is a requirement for building any bases in the frozen region.
When the station, named Jangbogo after a famous captain of the seas during the Unified Shilla Period in the 9th century, is finished, Korea will become the ninth country in the world to have two or more bases in Antarctica.
Whereas the country's King Sejong Station is located on King George Island at the tip of Antarctica, Jangbogo will be built on Terra Nova Bay, 1,700 km southeast of the South Pole. This puts the new base about 40 percent closer to the pole than the current facility, which will make it easier for Korean scientists to conduct research and search for natural resources. Until now, the King Sejong Station has mostly focused on researching the waters around Antarctica.
The new base will be completed by March 2014 based on an investment of W106.7 billion (US$1=W1,171). It will accommodate up to 60 people in a 4,458-sq.m facility.
As construction work can usually only be carried out for 65 days in a year due to the inclement conditions, the basic structures will be built in Korea by August and shipped to the site for local assembly in December.