Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Governor Won Hee-ryong said on November 15th, “It is difficult to approve the change without resolving the question of whether it is suitable for the future value of clean Jeju and the protection of the Jeju ecosystem,” due to Practice Measure 2 of the Clean Jeju Songak Declaration.
At the press conference held in the pressroom of the Jeju Provincial Office, Governor Won argued, “We cannot approve the change of business without sincere consultations with local residents and the Ramsar Wetland Committee.”
On October 25th, he announced through the “Clean Jeju Songak Declaration (Jeju’s Promise for the Next Generation)” that, “in dealing with the rampant urban sprawl to protect the clean Jeju, we will apply the principle of natural conservation and coexistence and proceed as a due process.”
On November 2nd, the governor disclosed the follow-up measure against the Songaksan amusement park project, the Practice Measure 1 of the Songak Declaration.
Songaksan Mountain area was designated as an amusement park in 1995. The approval for the implementation plan of the amusement park’s urban planning facility project expires on August 1st, 2022.
The Jeju Animal Theme Park Development Project, currently being organized near Seonheul-ri, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, changed its operator in 2016 and is pursuing a change of business plan. The province decided to designate the Songaksan area as a cultural property zone before the designation of the amusement park went into effect in August 2022 so that the decision to promote Songaksan as a cultural property would not be reversed and degenerate into other development projects. If Songaksan is designated as a cultural property, the mountain and the surrounding area up to 500m radius will be specified as a historical, cultural, and environmental area to preserve, restricting development projects.
The second practice measure, a follow-up to the Clean Jeju Songak Declaration, targets the Jeju Animal Theme Project. The first approved business plan in 2007 started as a theme park development project that centered on horses, pigs, and pets, but after the current operator’s acquisition in 2016, it has been undergoing a business plan change procedure to include wild animals and exotic animals such as lions and tigers.
Accordingly, Jeju Province added a condition that required the “consultation with local residents and officials of Ramsar Wetland City” on November 16th, 2018, through a review by the Urban Architecture Joint Committee.
Also, in the review stage of the environmental preservation plan following the change in the contents of the environmental impact assessment consultation in April and December 2019, it was suggested that “the contents of consultation between the residents of the opposition committee and the regional management committee of the Ramsar Wetland City, a key issue in this case, must be identified.”
However, until recently, the business operator has not been able to conduct sincere consultations with the local residents and the regional committee of Ramsar Wetland City. The conflict continues as the local residents are divided into the promotion committee and the opposition committee regarding the development project.
“In the COVID-19 situation, we need to carefully deal with whether the introduction of foreign animal species can be harmonized with the ecological value of Clean Jeju,” said Governor Won Hee-ryong. He emphasized that “even if steps are taken in the future to comply with legal procedures, as the final authority of approval, I will thoroughly review the above issues and decide whether to approve changes to the development project.”
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