Korea grows by one more Seoul
Korean territory as recorded on the official land registry turned out to be 100,266 square kilometers as of late 2013, up from 99,617 square kilometers in 2004. In only one decade, the amount of land belonging to the nation has increased by about 649 square kilometers, 223.7 times bigger than Yeouido, an island of 2.9 square kilometers located in the heart of Seoul. Yeouido is often used as a yardstick to measure and compare land area.
In short, the country has added about one more Seoul to its geographical footprint.
According to an annual statistics report released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation, the major cause of the geographic expansion is the increased amount of land along the shoreline that has been reclaimed for industrial use.
Concerning land around ports and container terminals, last year, around 30.8 square kilometers of land, ten times larger than Yeouido, was created along the Goheungman Bay in Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province). Over 1.2 square kilometers of land were reclaimed at the Port of Gwangyang and at the industrial complex around POSCO’s Gwangyang Steel Works in South Jeolla Province, too. Another 1.2 square kilometers of land were reclaimed at the Port of Masan in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do (South Gyeongsang Province). Finally, 0.5 square kilometers of land were reclaimed along the hinterland of Jinhae Port in Changwon.
The area of land covered by roads has increased by 117.2 percent over the past 30 years, growing from 1,399 square kilometers in 1980 to 3,039 square kilometers last year. Over the same time period, the area covered by general-use plots of land increased by 66.9 percent from 1,721 square kilometers to 2,872 square kilometers.
Meanwhile, the area covered by farmland has decreased by about 12.3 percent, from 29,099 square kilometers to 19,379 square kilometers and forested land has also decreased by about 2.9 percent, from 66,128 square kilometers to 64,176 square kilometers.
Looking closer at the numbers, about 32.4 percent of the new land is being used as public areas, 52.3 percent is occupied by private individual and the rest, 6.6 percent, is owned by corporations. The area of land owned by corporations has been on a steady rise over the past five years.
The province with the most land is Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province), with a total area of 19,280 square kilometers, covering 19 percent of the nation. Sejong City is the smallest provincial-level district, at 464.9 square kilometers. Among sub-provincial districts, Hongcheon-gun in Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province) is the largest, at 1,819.7 square kilometers and Jung-gu in Busan is the smallest, at 2.8 square kilometers.
By Wi Tack-whan, Lee Seung-ah
Korea.net Staff Writers
(right) about 1.2 square kilometers of land were reclaimed at the Port of Gwangyang and at the industrial complex in South Jeolla Province.
(right) about 0.5 square kilometers of land were reclaimed along the hinterland of Jinhae Port, both in South Gyeongsang Province.