S Korea considers tunnels to China, Japan: Reports

South Korea has launched a feasibility study into the construction of tunnels linking the country with China and Japan for high-speed railways, reports said on Tuesday.

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2010, 13:31 PM IST

Seoul: South Korea has launched a
feasibility study into the construction of tunnels linking the
country with China and Japan for high-speed railways, reports
said on Tuesday.

A state research institute is expected to produce a paper
on its investigation before the end of the year at the request
of the transport ministry, Yonhap news agency said.
The Chosun Ilbo newspaper carried a similar report saying
the ministry was reviewing the feasibility of the tunnels as
part of its long-term plan for a high-speed railway network
with Japan and China.

The ministry`s transport institute has proposed the idea
of building a tunnel between China`s eastern port of Weihai
and the west coast of the peninsula, it said.

The other tunnel, stretching about 220 kilometres (135
miles) would link South Korea`s southern port of Busan and the
Japanese island of Tsushima and Fukuoka port, the daily said.
But the tunnels may not be realised in the near future
due to the massive amount of funds needed, Yonhap said, adding
South Korea also needs agreement with its neighbours.

It quoted an unnamed ministry official as saying, "It may
take tens of years before we start the project, even if the
report says it is technically possible, as there are many
other aspects we need to consider."

S Korea considers forming special reserve force for national emergencies

South Korea is considering
creating a special reserve force that would be swiftly called
to active duty in case of national emergency situations, a
government source said here.

The plan is to maintain a pool of 10,000 trained service
members as the military struggles with expected reduction in
the number of troops with the shortening of the duration of
mandatory military service, the source said on condition of
anonymity.

The plan was one of the defense reform proposals reported
to President Lee Myung-bak recently by the Presidential
Commission for National Security Review, the source said
yesterday.

If the plan is implemented, members of the special
reserve force would train for about two days a month and
prepare for mobilization should the need arise, the
source said.

"There is a limit in the size of human resources that can
be mobilized when national emergency situations occur," the
source said, adding the special reserve
force is not intended to be called on during war.

All physically fit young South Korean men must serve at
least two years in the military. The government is gradually
shortening the duration of the service to 18 months by 2014, a
move that would force the military to eventually reduce the
number of its troops to about 500,000 by 2020 from the current
655,000.

South Korea`s military, with the backing of some 28,500
US troops stationed in the South, faces 1.1 million-strong
North Korean military across their heavily armed border.

PTI