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South Korea Considering High-Speed Rail Tunnels to China, Japan

Sept. 21 – The South Korean government is looking into constructing underwater tunnel links that would send high-speed trains to China and Japan, officials at the country’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said on Tuesday.

The ministry’s Korea Transport Institute began work on a feasibility study last year and is expected to complete the report before the end of the year.

“But this means the government is only reviewing the technical possibility of the projects. It may take tens of years before we start the project even if the report says it is technically possible as there are many other aspects we need to consider,” a ministry official speaking to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency forewarned.

The official explained that the projects may not be realized in the near future due to the massive amount of funding required and the need to come to an agreement with the Chinese and Japanese governments.

The ministry has suggested the Chinese city of Weihai in Shandong Province as a suitable connection for the South Korea-China underwater train tunnel project, although the Chinese city is over 300 kilometers from South Korea’s coast. The South Korea-Japan project will likely connect the Korean port city of Busan to the Japanese port of Fukuoka on Tsushima Island some 220 kilometers away.

A third tunnel is also under consideration that would connect the mainland South Korean city of Mokpo to the country’s southern-most island of Jeju. Government officials estimate that each of the three projects could cost around US$86 billion if and when they are approved.

By comparison, Europe’s Channel Tunnel connecting France and the U.K. stretches 50.5 kilometers and cost roughly US$15 billion.

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13 Responses to South Korea Considering High-Speed Rail Tunnels to China, Japan

  1. The_Observer says:

    That would be great. A pan-“East Asian” fast railway network would be a good way for the three Confucian countries to work together. Korea would be the connecting link for Japan to connect their bullet-train network to China’s Eurasian rail-network. This would give impetus for the China-Taiwan undersea tunnel as well. Let’s go further and have the proposed Calfornian fast rail connect up with Canadian Rail and a Bering Strait tunnel as well? Could it possibly be that in 25 years time that all trains would lead to Beijing? Certainly that is more feasible than Stephen Hawking’s suggestion of populating other planets?

  2. jose says:

    korea isn’t veryyyyyy confucian at all ,christianity is a big religion in korea , too

  3. Afghan Kush says:

    @jose
    Korea is probably the most Confucian nation in the entire world.

  4. Piter says:

    While South Korea contemplates building a HSR underwater between historical enemies 200miles away we can’t even get a HSR from San Francisco to Los Angeles

  5. Serra says:

    Major security headaches.

  6. The_Observer says:

    @Afghan Kush
    I would agree with you tha’s it’s Korea. It’s not China. The communists in China for many years suppressed his teachings. And the Japanese have a Shinto Buddhism overlay.

  7. Wang says:

    @The_Observer
    The culture of the 3 countries are very different now.
    I favor this plan because my city , Weihai, will benifit a lot. But I do think the undersea tunnel between S Korea and China is not useful.Because S Korea is small, the whole country will benifit, but China.as a vast country,won’t. If you want go to Beijing or Shanghai via this undersea tunnel from S Korea, it may be less convient than a flight. For cargo, less convient and more expensive than shiping. Besides,how to get so much money to invest? As Korea may be the biggest winner of this project, China goverment,I believe,wll not invest much money on the project.

  8. The_Observer says:

    @Wang. I agree that S. Korea will be the country to benefit the most. Not just as an importer and exporter of goods to either country but also as a transhipment point for goods between the other two. As regards convenience, I looked up Weihai and it seems like you are living in a very pleasant city with parks, hotels, shops, schools and universities but also it is a major seaport that already takes in shipping with S. Korea. Loading trains on one side, transporting by rail and arriving at the other side will save a lot of time over sea travel. Agreed it is not direct to Beijing or Shanghai, the former having rail and air links to Weihai whereas the latter only has air links. But after customs inspections, the goods are already on trains get then go on to wherever the railway network can take it. As for air travel, again if passengers or mail has to go to Beijing or Shanghai then it would make sense to incure the minor inconvenience of checking in early at airports and making your way to and from the airports. But there are many people like myself who love travelling by rail and would willing re-arrange itineraries to take into account non-direct routes. It could also generate a lot of business and tourism for Weihai or increase collaboration between researchers for the universities there. The only provisos would be the cost of the railway and tunnels, what other infrastructure changes would be required for the connected cities, and, as someone mentioned, security.

  9. Cleo says:

    In a dozen years or so, I will show my Chinese daughter the miniseries My Name is Kim Sam Soon but otherwise I don’t see Korea or Japan calling us. I would definitely visit Shandong but I don’t know if I would visit Korea because there is an express passage to Korea. China and its culture is going to take more than one lifetime for my children to absorb. I don’t think I really care to confuse them with a manufacturered connection to neighboring countries.

  10. Cleo says:

    I do think that Jeju Island should be connected to the Korean Mainland. I plan to visit the Koreas with my family but I’m not sure that Jeju is relevant to a Chinese American tourist group such as mine.

  11. Craig Lang says:

    The Channel Tunnel cost, about 20ears ago, was 20 billion pounds sterling, about 70billion today.For a modern country with trillions in GDP this is peanuts, about a year’s expenditure in Afghanistan!

  12. sacha davilak says:

    Japan once proposed to build a High Speed Railway from Tokyo to Seoul through Tsushima strait, across the Korea peninsula into China’s territory, then pass through the whole Chinese mainland from north to south and terminate at HongKong.
    I think it’s time now.

  13. LEE says:

    Engineers from Electric Boat have developed a submersible tunnel that float underwater like a series of submarines linked together that cost less than conventional bedrock tunnels. Private toll road operator like Macquarine would compete to build it through a public-private partnership. Projects like this are possible if leaders of governments and business invest in a better future. I wish Obama and the Pacific conference trade meeting that is now going on would consider this infrastucture project where consumers around the whole world would benefit.

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