Citizen jury supports resumption of Shin Kori 5, 6

South Korea on Friday chose to push ahead with the construction of two new nuclear reactors after months of heated debate over whether the country should start weaning itself off atomic energy. Back in June the government suspended the reactors' construction, and then established the independent commission in charge of collecting views from the public. It was launched shortly after the Moon Jae-in government put on hold the construction of both plants in July to uphold its non-nuclear initiative. But the results of the commission could still be seen as in line with President Moon's energy policies, as the Moon administration wants to phase out Korea's reliance on nuclear energy in the long-term.

A citizen jury has voted to resume the construction of Shin Kori 5 and 6 nuclear plants in Korea. (KHNP) has already spent 1.6 trillion won (US$1.4 billion) on the project that began a year ago, with construction already being 30 percent complete.

So the state commission has announced the results, now these results will be passed over to President Moon Jae-in for his final decision, right? About one-point-six trillion won, or one-point-four billion dollars, had already been spent on the project. Stability of power supply was cited as a prime reason for the choice in survey responses, the committee said. But he has stressed that the government will gradually close reactors one by one when their lifespan is up, rather than rushing to shut them down early. South Korea is one of the few exporters of nuclear technology in the world.

The committee conducted four rounds of surveys including phone interviews of 20,006 people, and public debates with some 470 citizens for the past three months.

Calls for scrapping the reactor project gained traction after a powerful 5.8-magnitude natural disaster hit the country's southeastern city of Gyeongju in September past year.

The quake sparked safety concerns about the reactors being built just dozens of miles away in light of a discovery that the region lies on an active fault prone to quakes. The Shin Kori-5 and Shin Kori-6 reactors would bring the total number in the region to 10.

Those who support the reactors said the government should reflect the committee's recommendation when it draws a broader energy roadmap, which is due later this year.

Opposition parties demanded Moon apologize for confusion caused by his proposal to scrap the project.

He also called for the government to withdraw its nuclear power phase-out policy.

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