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Cablegate: Seoul Esth Update - September 2009

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RR RUEHVK
DE RUEHUL #1595/01 2810056
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080056Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5862
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6825
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6757
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8167
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7310
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 4019
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5140
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1745
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 4096
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 9254
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 05 SEOUL 001595

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 EIND ENRG TBIO TPHY TRGY TSPA KGHG KFLU KS
SUBJECT: SEOUL ESTH UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 2009

In This Issue

- Korean Interest Groups Split on CO2
- Carbon Credit System Promotes Voluntary CO2 Reductions
- Jeju Island to Pioneer "Smart Electricity Grid" Project
- Korean Lithium-Ion Battery Makers Working with German and U.S.
Producers
- Government to Increase Spending on Space-Related Technologies
- Korea to Start Full-Scale Tests on Nuclear Fusion as an Energy
Source
- Government Scales Back Measures in Schools for H1N1 Virus
- Korea's Suicide Rate Highest Among Advanced Countries
- Profile: Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)

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

Korean Interest Groups Split on CO2
------------------------------------

1. Korea's top businesses want the government to select the least
restrictive option for its greenhouse gas emissions reduction when
it decides a mid-term (2020) target later this year, according to a
survey released on September 9 by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and
Industry. About two-thirds of the 508 businesses surveyed want the
government to select the option that allows for an eight percent
increase over 2005 levels of greenhouse gas emissions, saying this
least restrictive option would be best for businesses and the
economy. The other two options being considered by the government
are: 1) reducing emissions to and maintaining them at 2005 levels,
and 2) reducing emissions to four percent below 2005 levels.
Korea's most powerful business lobby group, the Federation of Korean
Industries, has said that while Korea cannot oppose the
international trend towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the
government should consider the realities for Korean businesses in
determining the methods and the timing for reducing emissions. In a
separate poll by the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, experts
from academic circles and government research institutes were in
favor of the middle reduction target option, in which Korea's
emissions are reduced to and frozen at 2005 levels. Civic groups
and non-governmental organizations, on the other hand, have been
calling on the country to make the deepest cuts possible in
greenhouse gas emissions, saying this would lead to new business
opportunities and send a message to Asian neighbors to take
ambitious steps to counter global warming.

Carbon Credit System Promotes Voluntary CO2 Reductions
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. Korean companies are making more voluntary reductions in carbon
emissions, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) said in a
September 10 press statement. According to the statement,
government-approved Korea Certified Emission Reduction credits, or
KCERs, awarded to businesses from January to September this year
showed an increase of 73.2 percent compared to the same period last
year. The credits awarded by the government to companies that
reduce their carbon dioxide emissions so far in 2009 represent over
two million tons of carbon dioxide savings compared to 1.2 million
tons registered CO2 savings in 2008. The Ministry began awarding
KCERs in 2007 and pays approximately 5000 won (USD 4) to companies
that take part in the program for every ton of carbon dioxide

SEOUL 00001595 002 OF 005


reduction. So far, the company that has earned the most credits
under the system is POSCO steel company with 610,000 tons of CO2
reductions credits, followed by LG Chem, SK, and Samsung Electronics
at 350,000 tons, 240,000 tons, and 220,000 tons, respectively. The
Ministry is planning to expand the system to small and medium
businesses in the near future, and to merge the KCER system into a
future cap-and-trade system, which is part of the draft Basic Law on
Low Carbon and Green Growth currently before the National Assembly.


Jeju Island to Pioneer "Smart Electricity Grid" Project
--------------------------------------------- ----------

3. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) said in a September 3
press release that Minster Lee Youn-ho had joined some 200 business
representatives and local residents on August 31 at the opening of a
pilot project for "smart power grids" on Jeju Island. Under the
government-led project, 6,000 households in the northeastern region
of Jeju Island will connect to smart electricity grid technology.
Smart grids are intelligent electric power systems that merge
conventional power lines with information technology infrastructure
and satellite communication systems to permit real-time monitoring
of electricity demand and output to help consumers use electricity
more efficiently. The purpose of this pioneering project is to
promote smart grids as a new economic growth engine while fostering
the drive toward low-carbon and green growth by addressing energy
and environmental needs simultaneously. MKE also said the
government will form a smart grid consortium with private partners
and is considering the possibility of opening the consortium to
foreign companies. A steering committee will take control of the
Jeju Island project to ensure safety and minimize any inconveniences
to residents of the test bed area. "The pilot project will serve as
a stepping stone for Korea to emerge as one of the leading countries
in smart grid technology," said Minister Lee. "It will also make
enormous contributions to green growth."

Korean Lithium-Ion Battery Makers Working
with German and U.S. Producers
-----------------------------------------

4. Korea's Samsung SDI, the world's third largest producer of
rechargeable batteries, said on September 11 that its joint venture
with Germany's Bosch Corporation will start commercial production of
lithium-ion battery for hybrid electric vehicles by 2011.
Construction of a plant for the joint venture, SB LiMotive Co.,
commenced on September 11 in the industrial city of Ulsan, South
Gyeongsang Province, where batteries for hybrid electric vehicles
will be produced, Samsung SDI said. "The joint venture is targeting
a 30 percent share in the global auto battery market by 2015," chief
executive of Samsung SDI was quoted as saying to local news media.
The company in August clinched a deal with BMW AG to provide
batteries to the world's largest premium automakers. Lithium-ion
batteries are used in a wide range of devices, including cell
phones, digital cameras and game consoles. New breeds of hybrid
electric vehicles will require much larger batteries with longer
time spans between charges. Another Korean lithium-ion battery
maker, LG Chem - the world's fourth largest rechargeable battery
producer - has been selected as the sole supplier for lithium-ion
batteries to be used in GM's plug-in hybrid electric car the
Chevrolet Volt beginning from November 2010. LG Chem also plans to
build a plant in Michigan to produce the batteries in the United
States.

SEOUL 00001595 003 OF 005

--------------------
Science & Technology
--------------------

Government to Increase Spending on
Space-Related Technologies
----------------------------------

5. Following its August 25 failed attempt to place a scientific
satellite into orbit, the Government of Korea announced in a
September 1 statement that it will spend an additional 24 billion
won (USD 19.2 million) over the next three years in funding for
universities to fuel research and development into space-related
technologies. The government's current annual budget for
space-related spending through the Korea Aerospace Research
Institute is approximately 300 billion won (USD 250 million). The
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said it has selected
six core investment areas it believes will help the country gain the
ability to independently launch rockets and place into orbit,
operate and maintain satellites. Technological areas that will
receive additional funding include development of light and
heat-resistance materials, infrared space sensors, S-band
transmitters and receivers for satellites, and next-generation data
processing systems. According to officials, work on these projects
will start next month with an emphasis on gaining knowledge in
technologies that cannot be purchased abroad, as well as in those
that will have the greatest synergistic impact on other industries.
The Ministry said it has selected 11 university labs to award the
funding for conducting basic research on these space-related
technologies.

Korea to Start Full-Scale Tests on
Nuclear Fusion as an Energy Source
----------------------------------
6. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said on
September 9 that it will soon start full-scale experiments at the
Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device (a
testing center for research into nuclear fusion for energy) that
could help create a limitless source of clean electricity. KSTAR,
which took 12 years to build at a cost of USD 329 million, was
completed at the National Fusion Research Center in Daejeon in
September 2007 and has since been undergoing trial runs to check its
capabilities.

7. KSTAR is one of the world's most advanced Tokamaks, a magnetic
device for confining high energy plasmas using superconducting coils
and advanced techniques to heat and shape the plasmas. Data
collected from the KSTAR experiments are directly relevant to the
international collaboration in fusion research that will have at its
center the larger-scale International Thermonuclear Experimental
Reactor (ITER) in Cadarche, France, construction of which is
scheduled to be completed in 2016.

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

Government Scales Back Measures to Control H1N1 Virus
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology eased rules

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September 18 on how schools cope with students and H1N1 flu, saying
preventive measures at schools are meaningless now that the virus
has spread across the country. Starting September 18, the Ministry
will no longer require elementary, middle and high schools with
H1N1-infected students to close temporarily; instead, the infected
students will be prohibited from attending school until symptoms
subside. In addition, the Ministry will lift a requirement that
students returning from overseas stay home for seven days before
returning to school. Local school administrators may still
temporarily close schools at their discretion and in consultation
with local health authorities in unusual circumstances.

9. On September 20, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family
Affairs (MHWFA) discontinued publishing daily numbers of new H1N1
cases on its website. It will replace the daily numbers with a new
statistic -- the influenza-like illness index (ILI index), which
will be published on the website on a weekly basis. The ILI index is
the number of patients with influenza-like illness who visit
hospitals or clinics or doctor's offices in the preceding week per
1000 population. The Ministry will continue to collect and monitor
data specifically on H1N1 infections, however, and will keep the
information accessible to interested parties, to the public, and to
international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

10. As of September 20, the number of confirmed H1N1 influenza
cases in South Korea totaled 14,912 with 11 deaths. The actions to
scale back control of H1N1 were taken following interagency
governmental discussions about the balance between social costs and
health benefits associated with measures for a disease which has had
a case fatality rate in Korea of less than one death per thousand
reported cases and a similarly low rate of reported cases with
anything more than mild symptoms.

Korea's Suicide Rate Highest among Advanced Countries
--------------------------------------------- --------

11. Korea's suicide rate is estimated to be the highest among
advanced countries, according to recent data released by the
National Statistical Office (NSO). Issuing its annual mortality
statistical report, the NSO said a total of 12,858 people, or 24.3
persons out of every 100,000 Koreans, took their own lives last
year. The figure represents a rise from 23.9 per 100,000 people in
2007 and 21.5 for 100,000 in 2006. The figure for Japan, where
suicide is also a major social problem, was 19.4 in 2007, and the
rate for Hungry, which is also known to have a high suicide rate,
was 21 per 100,000 in 2005, according to the latest data from the
OECD.

12. Among all age groups in Korea, suicide was the fourth leading
cause of death after cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and
cardiovascular diseases. Suicide first overtook diabetes as Korea's
fourth leading cause of death in 2007. According to the NSO,
suicide was the single leading cause of death for Koreans between 20
and 30 years old, accounting for more than 40 percent of deaths in
that age group, the NSO said. Traffic accidents and cancer caused
18.8 percent and 10.5 percent of deaths, respectively, for Koreans
between 20 and 30 years old.

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


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Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI)
--------------------------------------------- -

13. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) was founded
in 1959 with the mission of making nuclear energy an important
source of energy for Korea. In May this year, KAERI celebrated its
50th anniversary. In the intervening years, the institute has
become a global leader in nuclear energy research and development
with highly skilled and talented manpower. Over the past 50 years,
KAERI has played a key role in initiating and promoting the peaceful
uses of nuclear energy in South Korea. It founded a cornerstone of
the South Korean nuclear industry by participating in the
establishment of a nuclear engineering company and a nuclear fuel
company, and by localizing nuclear fuel and reactor technology; it
has maintained nuclear expertise in the whole spectrum of nuclear
energy technologies by conducting the nation's nuclear energy
research and development programs, operating nuclear energy research
facilities, and training and educating specialized nuclear energy
engineers and technicians; and it has contributed to nuclear safety
by creating and developing a specialized South Korean nuclear energy
regulatory body.

14. KAERI comprises six research departments: Reactor System
Technology Development, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technology Development,
Nuclear Safety Research, Applied Nuclear Technology Development,
Basic Science and Technology, and Advanced Radiation Technology. It
receives most of its funding from the Ministry of Education, Science
and Technology and advises the Ministry on technical and policy
issues related to nuclear energy. Currently KAERI has 1,141
full-time employees. Of the total employees, 612 hold a Ph.D., and
about 90 of them received an M.S. or Ph.D. from a U.S. university.

15. Dr. Yang Myung-seung has been the president of the Korea Atomic
Energy Research Institute since November 2007. He holds a
Bachelor's Degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Seoul National
University and received a Master of Science from the Korea Advanced
Institute of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. in
Materials Science and Technology from Northwestern University in the
United States. Dr. Yang is a member of the Standing Advisory Group
on Nuclear Energy of the IAEA.

TOKOLA

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