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Cablegate: Seoul Esth Update -August 2009

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RR RUEHVK
DE RUEHUL #1469/01 2580158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150158Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5646
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6708
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6635
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8140
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7208
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 3997
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5033
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1724
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 3992
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 9152
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUCPDC/NOAA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFISS/COMUSKOREA SCJS SEOUL KOR
RHMFIUU/CHJUSMAGK SEOUL KOR

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 SEOUL 001469

SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/IHB, OES/SAT, OES/PCI AND OES/EGC
STATE FOR EAP/K, ISN/NESS AND STAS
STATE PASS TO EPA FOR INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS
WHITE HOUSE FOR OSTP AND CEQ
DOE FOR INTERNATIONAL, NE, FE, AND EERE
USDOC FOR 4400/MAC/EAP/OPB/ITA/TA
USDOC FOR NIST
HHS FOR OGHA
HHS PASS TO NIH FOR FIC
STATE PASS TO NSF FOR INTL PROGRAMS
STATE PASS TO NRC FOR INTL PROGRAMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ELTN ENRG PREL TBIO TPHY TRGY KGHG KFLU KS
SUBJECT: SEOUL ESTH UPDATE -AUGUST 2009

In This Issue

- Korea Proposes Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plans
- Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Hits Record Levels in 2008
- Government Unveils Renewable Energy Development Plan
- Jellyfish Encumber Fishermen and Nuclear Power Plants
- South Korea Launches First Space Rocket, but Fails to Place
Satellite into Orbit
- Korea Boasts Fastest Internet Speed in World
- Government Announces Plans to Improve IT Development
- H1N1 Infections Soar as Schools Prepare for New Semester
- Profile: Korea Institute of Science and Technology

-----------
Environment
-----------

Korea Proposes Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plans
---------------------------------------------

1. On August 4, Korea proposed three options to cut its greenhouse
gas emissions by 2020, saying it will determine the final
implementation plan by the end of this year. The Presidential
Committee on Green Growth (PCGG) unveiled three scenarios that seek
to reduce emissions from 21 to 30 percent from estimated 2020 levels
under a "business as usual" projection. The PCGG also described the
2020 overall reduction target scenarios in terms of an absolute
reduction from the 2005 base year levels: Target Scenario One calls
for holding emissions to within an eight percent increase over 2005
levels. Under this scenario, modest greenhouse gas emissions will
be allowed until the "peak year" of 2020. Under Target Scenario 2,
Korea would return to its 2005 baseline emissions levels by 2020
with a peak emissions year of 2015. Target Scenario Three is the
most ambitious, calling for a reduction in emissions to four percent
below 2005 levels by 2020 with the peak year occurring in 2012.

2. In order to achieve the target, Korea will undertake a number of
measures, such as fostering the growth in use and supply of
renewable energy, including nuclear energy, improving energy
efficiency with smart power grid technologies, putting more hybrid
cars on the road, and investing in the research and development of
new technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and light emitting
diodes. The government announced earlier this year that it would
invest 107 trillion won (USD 88 billion), or 2 percent of its annual
GDP, in environment-related industries over the next five years. It
is also pushing through stricter fuel efficiency and emission
requirements for vehicles and energy efficiency standards on
appliances.

3. According to data released by PCGG, Korea's greenhouse gas
emissions almost doubled between 1990 and 2005. In 2005, Korea was
the 16th largest greenhouse gas emitter in terms of total emissions,
producing 594 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. On
a per-capita basis, Korea ranked 6th in the world with emissions of
11.4 tons of carbon dioxide per person in 2005.

4. At an August 18 public hearing organized by the Korea Green
Foundation's Climate Change Center, NGO representatives argued that
the proposed reduction targets by 2020 are too low compared with
other advanced countries. Business representatives, on the other
hand, expressed reservations about the reduction goals, saying they
should be voluntary, not mandatory. They pointed out that on June

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15 last year, members of the Federation of Korean Industry, the
Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and an Association of Small
and Medium Enterprises agreed to adopt a voluntary target aiming to
reduce the emissions of 28 industrial sectors by 40 percent below
business-as-usual projections by 2020.

Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Hits
Record Levels in 2008
----------------------------------

5. According to the "2008 Global Atmosphere Watch Report" recently
published by the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), Korea's
annual average carbon dioxide density in the atmosphere (measured at
Korea's west coast of Anmeyon Island) increased slightly to a
record level of 391.4 parts per million (PPM) in 2008 (up from 390
PPM in 2007). The figure is 6.5 PPM higher than gobal annual
average of 384.9 PPM in 2008. The report says Korea's atmospheric
carbon dioxide concentration is continuing to go up, but its gap
with the global average has narrowed since 2005, due mostly to its
domestic efforts in combating greenhouse gas emissions.

6. KMA data shows that the yearly average temperature in Korea has
climbed by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 1908 and 2007 while global
temperatures increased by about 0.74 degrees Celsius. No one is
sure why Korea's average annual temperature increase is so much
higher than the global average.

Government Unveils Renewable Energy Development Plan
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) has a long-term goal of
raising the share of renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass,
hydrogen fuel cells, etc.) in the nation's total energy supply from
2.4 percent in 2007 to 11 percent by 2030. On August 24, the
Presidential Committee on Green Growth (PCGG), chaired by the Prime
Minister, approved MKE's renewable energy development plan to reach
that goal. The plan provides a timetable mapping out the increasing
share of renewable in the energy mix: 4.3 percent by 2015 and 6.1
percent by 2020. The plan outlines several strategies, including
broad assistance from the government to the renewable energy
industry to commercialize new technologies. The plan also calls for
the government to introduce renewable portfolio standards (RPS),
regulations which oblige energy suppliers to provide a certain
percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. The
standards will become mandatory in 2012.

8. Other specific measures outlined in the plan include early
dissemination and deployment of hydrogen fuel cells for residential
electricity, promoted by the government through subsidies ranging
from 30 to 80 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing
hydrogen fuel cells to power and heat homes starting 2010 through
2020. The plan also calls on the government to expand domestic
solar energy supply by 100 megawatts by 2011, an amount that could
power 13,300 households. The plan also calls for constructing a 40
megawatt wind power complex on the reclaimed Saemangeum tidal flat
by 2014 and for looking into the feasibility of creating a large
wind farm by 2014 on the ocean along the west coast - a complex that
would cost 400 billion won (USD322 million) and generate 100
megawatts of electricity.

Jellyfish Encumber Fisherman and Nuclear Power Plants
--------------------------------------------- --------

SEOUL 00001469 003.2 OF 006

9. According to a local news report of August 25, fishermen across
the country are battling jellyfish that are thriving near seashores
and wreaking havoc on local ecosystems. Kong In-chan, 54, who runs
Keumjeong Fisheries in South Gyeongsang Province, said he usually
catches 400 million won (USD 320,000) worth of anchovies per month,
but in July he netted only 170 million won (USD 135,000) because of
the jellyfish. "The ocean water is full of jellyfish," complained
Huh O-ryong, 48, a commercial fisherman residing in Pohang, North
Gyeongsang. "Once you pull up a net, you find 20 tons of jellyfish
stuck in there. It takes about two hours to remove them all."

10. Jellyfish are also annoying workers at nuclear power plants,
where they increasingly have been blocking gates needed to bring in
cooling water. Some plants have been forced to interrupt operations
because of the jellyfish. Ki Cheon-jae, a senior official at the
nuclear power complex located in Younggwang, South Jeolla, operated
by Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation, said, "Normally seven
to eight workers are needed to take care of the gate, but we have
increased that number up to 20 to deal with the jellyfish." The
plant has been removing 10 to 40 tons of jellyfish a day since last
month.

11. A researcher at the National Fisheries Research and Development
Institute (NFRDI) said, "It is likely that the number of jellyfish
has increased because of the rise of sea temperature caused by
global warming and by water pollution," a researcher at NFRDI said.
Most experts agree that nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off cause
red phytoplankton blooms, creating low oxygen dead zones where
jellyfish thrive; the creatures also prefer warmer water, and their
populations have increased in recent years throughout the world in
coastal waters where temperatures have increased above historical
averages.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Science and Technology Unveils Blueprint to Boost
Robotics Industry
--------------------------------------------- ----

South Korea Launches First Space Rocket,
But Fails to Place Satellite into Orbit
---------------------------------------

12. South Korea's first space rocket blasted off at 5:00 pm local
time on August 25 from the country's Naro Space Center, located 485
kilometers south of Seoul, but failed to place a small scientific
satellite into its intended orbit, officials at the Korea Aerospace
Research Institute said. The seven-time delayed launch of the
Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) took place six days after a
software glitch halted the countdown just eight minutes before blast
off. Korea undertook the multi-year project, which cost 502.5
billion won (USD 419 million), with Russian collaboration. Its
first stage of its two-stage engine was built by Russia, while the
second stage kick motor and payload fairing systems were
domestically made in Korea. The two-stage KSLV-1 rocket was South
Korea's first attempt at launching a space launch vehicle and the
Science and Technology Satellite-2 was the first Korean satellite
launched from its own territory.

13. In a media briefing held on the morning of August 26, the
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), said that the
first and second stage rockets of the KSLV-1 separated as planned

SEOUL 00001469 004 OF 006


after liftoff. One of the two fairings that held the satellite in
place, however, failed to detach from the rocket after opening 9
minutes into the flight. MEST Vice Minister Kim Jung-hyun said,
"The fairings weigh 300 Kg or three times more than the scientific
satellite making it effectively impossible for the second stage
rocket to generate the necessary thrust to keep the satellite in
orbit." He added that the extra weight also affected stabilization
and navigational control causing the rocket and payload to and steer
upwards, instead of settling into a trajectory roughly parallel to
the Earth. The second stage rocket and the satellite reached an
altitude of 327 km before they separated, higher than the planned
303, with the satellite climbing to a further height of 387 km,
after which it fell to Earth and was probably burned as it reentered
the atmosphere.

14. President Lee Myung-bak called the launch a "half success," and
called on the nation to further strive to realize the dream of
becoming a space power. Korea is already planning for a second
space rocket launch in May 2010.

Korea Boasts Fastest Internet Speed in World
--------------------------------------------

15. A local newspaper reported on August 27 that Korea has the
fastest average Internet connection speed in the world, quoting data
of Communications Workers of America, the largest communications and
media union in the U.S. The average Internet connection speed in
Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (MPS) while Japan came in second
with 15.8 MPS. Third fastest was Sweden with 12.8 MPS. In the
United States, the average connection speed was 5.1 MPS ranking the
country 28th in the world.

Government Announces Plans to Improve IT Development
--------------------------------------------- -------

16. On September 2, the Presidential Council for Future and Vision,
the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, and the Korea Communications
Commission announced a 189 trillion won (USD 151 billion) plan to
improve the development of the IT sector over the next three years.
Of the total investment, only about 7 percent will come from the
government. The remainder is to be paid for by private industry,
and the amounts are based on actual investment plans of 160
companies in the IT sector. A key part of the plan is to integrate
information technology development with other industries, such as
shipbuilding, energy and automobiles so that new IT technology and
applications are more effectively responsive to industrial users'
requirements. The plans also include providing scholarships to
students conducting research to improve the country's mobile and
smart phone industry. The plan also calls for the IT industry to
invest more in raising the quality of semiconductors and in
achieving ever faster Internet connection speeds.

------
Health
------

H1N1 Infections Soar as Schools
Prepare for New Semester
-------------------------------

17. The total number of confirmed H1N1 influenza cases in South
Korea passed the 4000 mark on September 1st. About 85 percent of

SEOUL 00001469 005 OF 006


Korea's H1N1 cases have been diagnosed in the past six weeks, when
the virus began spreading rapidly within Korea. That number is
expected to continue to climb steadily as schools prepare to re-open
in September. So far, three Koreans have died from H1N1-related
illness, for an estimated case fatality rate in Korea of less than
one death per thousand cases. Two of the three persons who died
reportedly were sick for more than one month before being tested and
treated for H1N1. All but a handful of the 4000 confirmed H1N1
patients have suffered only minor flu symptoms.

18. Despite the low incidence of serious symptoms and low case
mortality rate, Koreans are responding to the spreading outbreak
with alarm. Forty-six schools have closed or delayed opening. The
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has directed schools
that remain open to check the temperature of each student every
morning before classes begin. Athletic and other school social
events are being canceled. Local papers reported that Ewha Girls
High School has put its community work for the disabled on hold.
There has been a noticeable decrease in subway passengers and a
corresponding increase in vehicular traffic as people are shunning
public transportation. And one of the hottest selling items in
Seoul these days is electric thermometers - selling now for 100,000
won (USD 80) apiece. The Public Administration and Security
Minister recommended provincial and municipal governments to suspend
events with more than 1000 participants. North Chungcheong Province
cancelled the World Taekwondo Championship, which was to draw 700
athletes from 21 countries. The city of Gwangju canceled its World
Tourism Expo and its Kimchi Festival, both scheduled for October.
Incheon City may be forced to refund more than 200,000 tickets for
its ongoing Global Fair and Festival.

19. The Prime Minister's Office announced that it has allocated an
additional 125 billion won (USD 100 million) to purchase more
anti-viral drugs by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate five
million people, in addition to the existing stockpiles, which are
enough to treat 5.3 million people. The government is also spending
108.4 billion won (USD 87 million) to develop an H1N1 vaccine and
produce enough to vaccinate 13 million people. It hopes to be able
to begin vaccinations in November.

-------
Profile
-------

Korea Institute for Science and Technology
------------------------------------------

20. The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) was
founded in February 1966 following a joint statement made by
President Lyndon Johnson and President Park Chung-hee on May 18,
1965 at the White House. Created with assistance from the Battelle
Memorial Institute in the United States, it is the oldest of the
many science-related government research institutes in Korea.

21. Currently KIST has 666 full-time employees (350 of whom are
PhDs), including five U.S. nationals. It is chartered to promote
basic and applied sciences in Korea and performs large-scale
national R&D projects through its six research divisions:
Convergence Technology, Nano-Science, Materials Science and
Technology, Intelligent Systems, Energy & Environment, and Life
Sciences.


SEOUL 00001469 006 OF 006


22. KIST maintains a long-standing relationship with Battelle
Memorial Institute, a private and non-profit applied science and
technology development company headquartered in Ohio. It has also
engaged in collaborative research with MIT in the field of
spintronics and with Carnegie Mellon University in robotics.

23. On August 27, Dr. Hann Hong-taek (Thomas Hahn), a Korean
American, was inaugurated as KIST's new President. He holds a B.S.
in Mechanical Engineering from Seoul National University (1964) and
a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Penn State (1971). He most
recently was Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering at UCLA.

TOKOLA

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