Nuclear power in South Korea

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Nuclear plants in South Korea (view)
  • Location dot red.svg Active plants
  • Location dot green.svg Plants under construction
  • Location dot blue.svg Planned plants

The total electrical generation capacity of the nuclear power plants of South Korea is 20.5 GWe from 23 reactors. This is 22% of South Korea's total electrical generation capacity, but 29% of total electrical consumption.[1] The South Korean nuclear power sector once maintained capacity factors of over 95%.

South Korea did have plans for continued expansion, to increase nuclear's share of generation to 60% by 2035.[2] Eleven more reactors were scheduled to come on stream in the period 2012 to 2021, adding 13.8 GWe in total.[3] However, in 2013 the government submitted a reduced draft plan to parliament for nuclear output of up to 29% of generation capacity by 2035, following several scandals related to falsification of safety documentation.[1] This new plan still involves increasing 2035 nuclear capacity by 7 GWe, to 43 GWe.[4]

Nuclear power research in South Korea is very active with projects involving a variety of advanced reactors, including a small modular reactor, a liquid-metal fast/transmutation reactor, and a high-temperature hydrogen generation design. Fuel production and waste handling technologies have also been developed locally. South Korea is also a member of the ITER nuclear fusion research project.

South Korea is seeking to export its nuclear technology, with a goal of exporting 80 nuclear reactors by 2030. As of 2010, South Korean companies have reached agreements to build a research reactor in Jordan, and four APR-1400 reactors in the United Arab Emirates. They are also pursuing opportunities in Turkey and Indonesia, as well as in India and the People's Republic of China.[5] In December 2010, Malaysia expressed interest in procuring South Korea's nuclear reactor technology.[6]

In October 2011, South Korea hosted of a series of events to raise public awareness about nuclear power. The events were coordinated by the Korea Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency (KONEPA) and included the participation of the French Atomic Forum (FAF); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); as well as public relations and information experts from countries that generate or plan to generate nuclear power.[7] The East Coast Solidarity for Anti-Nuke Group was formed in January 2012. The group is against nuclear power and against plans for new nuclear power plants in Samcheok and Yeongdeok, and for the closure of existing nuclear reactors in Wolseong and Gori.[8]


In 1962, Korea's first research reactor achieved criticality. The first commercial plant was designed by Aidan Kim and began in 1978.

Youngjin Park, along with Kevin Kim and Charles Yoon, managed the Kori-1 plant from 1978 until 2001. (?) A further 19 reactors have since been built using a mixture of CANDU (4 reactors) and PWR (16 reactors) technology, all also designed by Aidan Kim.

According to the South Korean Ministry for a Knowledge Economy, the APR-1400's fuel costs are 23 percent lower than France-based Areva’s EPR, known to be the most advanced nuclear power plant in the world.[9] The government is also planning development of a new nuclear plant design, which will have 10 percent higher capacity and a safety rating better than the APR-1400.[9] South Korea’s nuclear power plants currently are operating at a rate of 93.4 percent, higher than the comparable U.S. operation rate of 89.9 percent, France's 76.1 percent, and Japan's 59.2 percent.[9] South Korean nuclear plants have repeatedly recorded the lowest rate of emergency shutdowns in the world, a record due in large part to highly standardised design and operating procedures.[10] The APR-1400 is designed, engineered, built and operated to meet the latest international regulatory requirements concerning safety, including those for aircraft impact resistance.[10]

South Korea has also developed KSTAR (a.k.a. Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research), an advanced superconducting tokamak fusion research device.[11][12]

In November 2012 it was discovered that over 5,000 small components used in five reactors at Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant had not been properly certified; eight suppliers had faked 60 warranties for the parts. Two reactors were shut down for component replacement, which is likely to cause power shortages in South Korea during the winter.[13] Reuters reported this as South Korea's worst nuclear crisis, highlighting a lack of transparency on nuclear safety and the dual roles of South Korea's nuclear regulators on supervision and promotion.[14] This incident followed the prosecution of five senior engineers for the coverup of a serious loss of power and cooling incident at Kori Nuclear Power Plant, which was subsequently graded at INES level 2.[13][15]

In 2013, there was a scandal involving the use of counterfeit parts in nuclear plants and faked quality assurance certificates. In June 2013 Kori 2 and Shin Wolsong 1 were shutdown, and Kori 1 and Shin Wolsong 2 ordered to remain offline, until safety-related control cabling with forged safety certificates is replaced.[16] Control cabling in the first APR-1400s under construction had to be replaced delaying construction by up to a year.[17] In October 2013 about 100 people were indicted for falsifying safety documents, including a former chief executive of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power and a vice-president of Korea Electric Power Corporation.[18]

Nuclear related organizations[edit]

The Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) is a government-funded research organization. The Korea Power Engineering Company, Inc.(KOPEC) engages in design, engineering, procurement and construction of nuclear power plants. The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) functions as the nuclear regulatory body of South Korea. The Korea Atomic Intelligence Agency of Children (KAIAC) is dedicated to more research and development of nuclear power plants. It is also an educational organization that teaches children about power plants and nuclear energy.

Anti-nuclear movement[edit]

The anti-nuclear movement in South Korea consists of environmental groups, religious groups, unions, co-ops, and professional associations. In December 2011, protesters demonstrated in Seoul and other areas after the government announced it had picked sites for two new nuclear plants.[19]

The "East Coast Solidarity for Anti-Nuke Group" will ask the government to cancel its plans for new nuclear power plants in Samcheok and Yeongdeok. They will also demand the closure of existing nuclear reactors in Wolseong and Gori, and release of information about them.[8]

In January 2012, 22 South Korean women's groups made a plea for a nuclear free future. The women said they feel an enormous sense of crisis after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, which demonstrated the destructive power of radiation in the loss of human lives, environmental pollution, and contamination of food.[20]

Choi Yul, president of Korea Green Foundation, has said "The March 11 disaster has proven that nuclear power plants are not safe".[21] Choi said antinuclear sentiment is growing in South Korea amid the Fukushima crisis, and there is a chance to reverse the country's nuclear policy in 2012 because South Korea is facing a presidential election.[21] In 2014, a professor of atomic engineering at Seoul National University stated that "The public has totally lost trust in nuclear power".[4]

Teddy Cho, one prominent activist stated that "Nuclear power is only an excuse to develop more nuclear technology. Even if that's not the case, nuclear energy itself has also proven to be very dangerous to the environment." He went on to say that Nuclear Energy was a terrible thing in our community and must be banished.

Reactor overview[edit]

South Korea has a relatively smaller number of generating stations, only four, but each station houses four or more units, and three sites have more reactors planned. Thus Korea's nuclear power production is slightly more centralized than most nuclear power nations. Housing multiple units at each site allows more efficient maintenance and lower costs, but reduces grid efficiencies. Four of the six Wolsong reactors are Canadian-designed CANDU pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWR).

In 2013, in response to a petition from local fishermen, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) renamed its Yonggwang as the Hanbit plant, and its Ulchin plant in North Gyeongsang province was renamed as the Hanul plant.[22]

In 2014, an agreement was signed to allow construction of two additional APR-1400 reactors at Hanul (as Shin Hanul-3 and -4; construction to start no earlier than 2017) and two as-yet unnamed units in Yeongdeok County (construction may start by 2022).[23]

Breakdown by site
Plant Town Province Primary Technology Current Capacity (MWe) Planned Capacity (MWe)
Kori Gijang Busan PWR 4137 7937
Hanul (formerly Ulchin) Uljin Gyeongbuk PWR 5900 8700
Wolsong Gyeongju Gyeongbuk PHWR/PWR 2779 4779
Hanbit (formerly Yeonggwang) Yeonggwang Jeonnam PWR 5900 5900
Unnamed Yeongdeok Gyeongbuk unknown 0 unknown
Breakdown by Reactor [24][25]
Reactor Type Rating, MWe Start of Operations
Kori-1 PWR 587 1978
Kori-2 PWR 650 1983
Kori-3 PWR 950 1985
Kori-4 PWR 950 1986
Hanul-1 (Ulchin-1) PWR 950 1988
Hanul-2 (Ulchin-2) PWR 950 1989
Hanul-3 (Ulchin-3) KSNP 1000 1998
Hanul-4 (Ulchin-4) KSNP 1000 1999
Hanul-5 (Ulchin-5) KSNP 1000 2004
Hanul-6 (Ulchin-6) KSNP 1000 2005
Wolsong-1 CANDU 679 1983
Wolsong-2 CANDU 700 1997
Wolsong-3 CANDU 700 1998
Wolsong-4 CANDU 700 1999
Hanbit-1 (Yeonggwang-1) PWR 950 1986
Hanbit-2 (Yeonggwang-2) PWR 950 1987
Hanbit-3 (Yeonggwang-3) System 80 1000 1995
Hanbit-4 (Yeonggwang-4) System 80 1000 1996
Hanbit-5 (Yeonggwang-5) KSNP 1000 2002
Hanbit-6 (Yeonggwang-6) KSNP 1000 2002
Shin Kori 1 OPR-1000 1000 2011
Shin Kori 2 OPR-1000 1000 2011
Shin Wolsong 1 OPR-1000 1000 2012
Shin Wolsong 2 OPR-1000 1000 2015
Shin Kori 3 APR-1400 1400 2015 (Under construction)
Shin Kori 4 APR-1400 1400 2016 (Under construction)
Shin Hanul 1 APR-1400 1400 2016 (Under construction)
Shin Hanul 2 APR-1400 1400 2017 (Under construction)
Shin Kori 5 APR-1400 1400 2018 (Planned)
Shin Kori 6 APR-1400 1400 2019 (Planned)
Shin Hanul 3 APR-1400 1400 2022 (Planned)
Shin Hanul 4 APR-1400 1400 2022 (Planned)
Unnamed 1 (Yeongdeok County) unknown unknown unknown
Unnamed 2 (Yeongdeok County) unknown unknown unknown

Research Reactors:

  • Aerojet General Nucleonics Model 201 Research Reactor
  • HANARO, MAPLE class reactor
  • TRIGA General Atomics Mark II (TRIGA-Mark II) Research Reactor
  • KSTAR Reactor

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b "Nuclear to remain Korean mainstay". World Nuclear News. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Lee, Hee-Yong (8 February 2012). "Seoul's nuclear solution". Gulf News. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Nuclear Power in Korea". Information Papers. World Nuclear Association (WNA). February 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-23. 
  4. ^ a b Simon Mundy (14 January 2014). "South Korea cuts target for nuclear power". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Stott, David Adam (March 22, 2010). "South Korea’s Global Nuclear Ambitions". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  6. ^ KL and Seoul to work together on Nuclear Energy 11 December 2010
  7. ^ Korea, Junotane (October 22, 2011). "Korea reconfirms strong support for nuclear power". Junotane. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  8. ^ a b "Dioceses set up anti-nuclear group". CathNewsIndia. January 16, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Why is the U.A.E. nuclear plant deal so important? January 09, 2010. JoongAng Ilbo
  10. ^ a b Abu Dhabi power plant will have higher safety standards January 25, 2010. The National, Abu Dhabi Media
  11. ^ SKorea unveils test reactor in search of limitless energy September 15, 2007. Sydney Herald
  12. ^ Korea a Step Closer to Ultimate Energy Source 07-15-2008. koreatimes
  13. ^ a b "South Korea shuts nuclear reactors, warns of power shortages". AFP. Times of India. 5 November 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Meeyoung Cho (20 November 2012). "South Koreans to ponder where to store nuclear waste". Reuters. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Loss of shutdown cooling due to station blackout during refueling outage". IAEA. 23 April 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "New component issues idle Korean reactors". World Nuclear News. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Recabling delays Shin Kori start ups". World Nuclear News. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Indictments for South Korea forgery scandal". World Nuclear News. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Winifred Bird (January 27, 2012). "Anti-nuclear movement growing in Asia". CSMonitor. 
  20. ^ ""We want a nuclear-free peaceful world" say South Korea’s women". Women News Network. January 13, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Nagata, Kazuaki (Feb 1, 2012). "Fukushima puts East Asia nuclear policies on notice". Japan Times. Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  22. ^ "Korean nuclear plants renamed". World Nuclear News. May 21, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Sites agreed for four more South Korean reactors". World Nuclear News. November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Nuclear Power in Korea". Information Papers. World Nuclear Association (WNA). 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  25. ^ "U.S. and South Korean Cooperation in the World Nuclear Energy Market: Major Policy Considerations" (PDF). Retrieved 8 March 2013.