The Chosun Ilbo has some news about proposed development of some of Yeosu’s heretofore uninhabited islands.
Plans are afoot to develop parts of a sprawling archipelago in the sea near Yeosu, South Jeolla Province into tourism resources. The waters contain over 310 uninhabited islands, some featuring stunning scenery, and the provincial government aims to build up facilities at a select few to attract Chinese visitors given the recent boom in outbound tourism from the country.. . .
Centering on some of the islands that are more accessible and easier to develop, the ministry plans to create a diverse list of tour programs including island treks, eco-friendly programs and maritime sports activities. According to the plan, yachts will shuttle visitors between the islands and the mainland free of charge.“The Living Ocean and Coast” is, of course, the theme of the 2012 World Expo scheduled for May 12 through August 12, 2012, in Yeosu.
But some critics have expressed concern about the risk of environmental damage. In response, the ministry conducted a survey on 680 of the 2,900 or so uninhabited islands in the seas off Korea and put 170 on a protected list, meaning development is prohibited in these areas to conserve the environment.
The rest have been categorized as appropriate for development, but the ministry plans to issue clear guidelines to make sure this is done in a sustainable and non-harmful manner.
The local governments often send mixed messages on conservation versus exploitation. In 2008, the year the Ramsar Convention on wetland preservation was held in Gangwon province, the Saemangeum development project was in full swing on the west coast. From the International Herald Tribune:
[Developers] will replace natural wetlands with artificial ones and turn riverbeds into lakes. They will build a park along the road on the sea dyke and try to attract tourists with a theme park, convention center and even perhaps a casino.And in December 2007, a few weeks after Yeosu was awarded the Expo, developers announced plans to build five or six golf courses in rural parts of the city, thereby replacing some of the city’s green with greens (here and here are two looks at the construction of one). Interestingly one of the big projects in the news now includes turning an island into a golf destination:
The Yeosu Island Golf & Resort (여수 경도 골프&리조트) will be built on Gyeongho-dong's Daegyeong Island (대경도), and will include condos, villas, and three nine-hole golf courses. Daegyeong-do is next to Dolsan-do, and is right across from the Dolsan Bridge. It isn't uninhabited, though: there's a school, a few roads, these sweet-ass floating guesthouses, and 1,345 people at the last census. Construction began in September 2010, and should be finished by 2016.
According to figures from the Korean Coast Guard, there are 1,966 islands in Jeollanam-do, 1,688 of which are uninhabited. These numbers are a little out of date, and in April 2010 the government added another 281 uninhabited islands to the province’s total.