Seoul to spend $840 million on frontline islands

AFP , Wednesday 22 Jun 2011

South Korea's government allocates $840 million for development projects in an Island in the border with North Korea

Seoul will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to support residents living on frontline islands exposed to constant threats from North Korea, the Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday.

Five western border islands will see a total of 910 billion won ($843 million) spent over the next 10 years on 78 projects to improve living standards and beef up civil defence.

Tension is running high on the disputed Yellow Sea border after the North shelled Yeonpyeong, one of the five islands, in November, killing four people, two of them civilians.

The other four islands that are part of the programme, Baengnyeong, Daecheong, Socheong and Udo, are also near the disputed border with the communist North, and the five have a combined population of around 8,400. Naval skirmishes have happened in the area in 1999, 2002 and 2010.

The money will be used to improve infrastructure on the islands, including desalination facilities, seafood plants, housing and tourist accommodation -- as well as 46 anti-shelling shelters for residents, the government said.

It will also go towards subsidising residents' living, transport and educational costs.The plans will create some 6,640 new jobs, the office said.

Short link: