Yoon Suk Yeol Announces Release of Military Zones for Development in Seosan

SEOSAN — President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday announced a significant plan to release military-protected lands for public use, aiming to construct vital facilities and foster regional economic growth. The initiative was unveiled during a public debate on livelihood issues hosted at a military airfield in Seosan, located 98 kilometers southwest of Seoul. This meeting marked the 15th of its series.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the government will make 339 square kilometers of military facility protection zones available for development. This release includes 141 square kilometers of land surrounding the Seosan airfield. Yoon emphasized the decision was made after thoroughly considering the demands of local residents, ensuring that national security would not be compromised. He highlighted that 8.2 percent of the country's territory is currently designated as military facility protection zones, a status that has significantly restricted the construction of schools and other critical infrastructure since their inception in the 1970s.

The plan is expected to have a substantial impact on South Chungcheong Province, the location of Seosan. Yoon praised the region for its contribution to the national economy, particularly in the auto and display panel industries, and for its plans to construct a civilian airport. By lifting the restrictions of military zones, South Chungcheong Province is anticipated to secure the necessary space and conditions to become a pivotal economic hub in the Yellow Sea Rim. The government also plans to establish a free economic zone in the province, aiming to facilitate collaborations between foreign technology firms and local businesses.

Yoon further detailed specific development plans for South Chungcheong Province, including transforming Cheonan and Hongseong into industrial complexes focused on future mobility solutions, and establishing a defense industry cluster in Nonsan to leverage the existing military infrastructure. In Dangjin, a business innovation park is planned, expected to attract 35 mobility companies with services ranging from auto parts to car maintenance, generating an estimated 9.6 trillion won in economic benefits and creating 32,000 jobs.

The announcement aligns with Yoon's broader agenda for deregulation across various sectors of the economy, including housing, financial markets, and industrial complexes, to address market distortions and encourage fair competition. Additionally, Yoon recently proposed plans to ease restrictions on "greenbelt" zones to promote environmental conservation while allowing for development.

The main opposition Democratic Party has criticized the president's initiatives, labeling them as attempts to garner voter support through pork-barrel policies ahead of the upcoming general elections in April.

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