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Expansion of maritime activities

The county’s west and south coasts feature heavily indented and shallow coastlines, meaning that it is easy to reclaim land from the sea. As a result of a survey carried out in 1962, a total of 71 areas (with an estimated size of 2,250 km 2 in reclaimable area, of which 1,650 km 2 was considered suitable for farmland) were selected.

By the 1970s, based on the skills and experience acquired in the previous decade, large-scale reclamation projects were carried out to create industrial sites as well as farmland.1) By the 1990s, the country’s per capita GNI had reached 10,000 dollars and the government and public became more aware of the importance of tidal flats and coastal ecological systems. As a result, a more cautious approach toward reclamation projects was adopted.

After liberation in 1945, the country started the development of a deep-sea maritime fishing industry, beginning with small boats and later expanding to the use of ocean-going vessels. Korea gained great experience in maritime activities and sent a team to explore the Antarctic in 1985 and then built the Sejong Science Base there in 1988. The country embarked on full-scale international maritime development in the 1990s and has extended its activities worldwide.

The government enacted the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act in 1977 after it participated in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) index of the country’s coastal areas rose along with economic growth, but dropped to 1.40 by 2006 from a peak of 1.89 in 1994.

The country’s jurisdiction over maritime territories extends 12 nautical miles from the shoreline as set under the Article 3 of the Constitution, and Article 1 and Article 3 of the Territorial Sea Act. The base in the Antarctic is also recognized as part of Korea’s maritime territory.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.


1) Leading reclamation projects included the Tide Embankments of Namyang Bay (1973), Asan Bay (1977), Sapgyocheon (1979) and the Seosan Reclamation Area (1980).

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