Nikolai I. Pereslavtsev
Admiral Nevelskoy Maritime State University, Vladivostok
Abstract: The author tells in detail about the variants and directions for realization of one of the multilateral projects on the Korean Peninsula – the Trans-Korean Railway, the planned and implemented stages of the project, considers advantages for project’s participants. As well there is touched the topic of the North Korean port Rason and the efforts invested by Russia in its modernization as part of the TKR.
Keywords: Korean Peninsula, Trans-Korean Railway, North Korea, Republic of Korea, North Korean port Rason, Russian Federation
Over the past 15-20 years, in connection with the prospects of situation around the Korean Peninsula, politicians and experts in various countries regularly raise the topic of multilateral economic projects in this region.
One of such projects is the Trans-Korean Railway (TKR) with its further access to transcontinental transport routes to Europe.
Initially, the project’s idea meant that with its help the Republic of Korea could get:
– Direct and fast transit route across the North Korean territory to the Northeast provinces of China:
– Access to transcontinental cargo transportation to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Railway;
– Opportunity to diversify foreign trade exchanges and reduce dependence on traditional partners in this regard.
In turn, the DPRK will obtain additional sources of foreign investments due to transit payments. On this basis, it will be possible to expand production capacities and to improve well-being of the population living here.
The Russian Federation got interested in the prospects for railroad across the Korean Peninsula by the following reasons:
– Firstly, because the launch of multilateral trade and economic cooperation within the framework of the TKR construction will reduce the degree of military and political tension in a strategically important area. In addition, Russia will provide for itself the possibility of permanent economic, and, in the future, a geopolitical presence here;
– Secondly, and this is even more important, the regional international projects are aimed, ultimately, at the social and economic development of the Russian Far East. Only on this base it would be possible to stop the region’s depopulation and to attract migrants from the Russian West to come and live here, as well as the Russian and foreign investors.
Before the Korea’s division into the South and the North they were joined by two railroad lines. One was called «Gyenguiseon» and connected Seoul и Sinuiju, the other one was called – «Gyengwonseon» and it ran between Seoul and Wonsan. Both railroads have been constructed in the period of Japanese rule.
To study their technical condition, in 2018 the South and the North instructed a special joint committee to carry out an inspection of the section between Munsan and Kaesong (the western sector), as well as between Chongjin-ri (north of Sokcho) and Kumgangsan (the eastern sector). In addition, there was planned to renovate the line from Cheorwon (in the middle of «Gyengwonseon» line) with Kumgangsan.
Therefore, finally, it was acknowledged necessary to restore and construct four railroad lines.
In the North Korea – the directions Kaesong – Sinuiju and Kumgangsan – Tumangan. In the South the Government approved as a domestic infrastructure project, but in the framework of the future TKR, the construction of railroad line on the coast of the Eastern Sea, between Gangneung and Chongjin-ri, in other words, towards the DPRK.
To date, the following scheme of the TKR looks the most realistic.
Using the existing line «Gyengbuseon», the cargo trains depart from Busan and go to Seoul. From Seoul the part of cargo flow goes to Pyongyang and Sinuiju, and then to China, through the border town Dandong. Moscow is more interested in the Eastern sector: from Seoul, along the «Gyengwonseon» line, through Cheorwon и Kumgangsan to Wonsan, and further, along the existing North Korean railway, (Pyongnaseon line, about 600 km) to Tumangan, and then – to Russia.
This will be the transcontinental route, which opens access to the Asian Continent for the Republic of Korea.
The implementation of work on the TKR, if it begins, will require the supplies of equipment, finished products and raw materials. It seems that in this case, Russian suppliers would have received an advantage and commercial benefit due to the volume of deliveries and the stable load of production enterprises. The Far Eastern market of the Russian Federation is located in the nearest transport accessibility from the Korean Peninsula. This means a minimum amount of transport charges and other additional expenses, and, therefore, a lower cost of transported resources and their attractiveness for a potential consumer.
Over the past period, the South and the North have repeatedly agreed at various levels to carry out work on connecting the railway connection railroad between them, both in western and in eastern sections. To finance the project, it was planned to create an international consortium with the participation of Russia, the Republic of Korea and the DPRK. Russian institutes and “Russian Railways” conducted expensive ($25 million) technical design surveys.
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