April 29 (UPI) — A South Korean province that was planning to build a controversial “Chinatown” to draw tourists signed preliminary agreements with Chinese entities worth $2.7 billion for other projects, according to a local press report.
Choi Moon-soon, the three-term governor of Gangwon Province, signed multiple memoranda of understanding with entities based in mainland China and Hong Kong across the span of a decade, but none of the MOUs led to completed projects, South Korean network KBS reported.
One of the more recent MOU-signing ceremonies took place on Jan. 20, 2020, between the McKinley Consortium Group and the province, for the acquisition of the Alpensia Resort in Pyeongchang, site of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Choi said at the time the consortium, owned by McKinley International in Hong Kong, is to take over the resort and alleviate the company’s debt. The consortium had agreed to buy the resort for 800 billion won, or about $722 million, but so far the consortium has yet to pay the due diligence fee of 1.5 billion won or $1.35 million, according to KBS’ findings.
Choi also signed an MOU with Chinese entity SCI Holdings, or Shangchao Holdings, in 2014, for the construction of a “China Dream City” in Gangwon Province. The $433 million project would showcase the “coexistence of Chinese and Korean cultures,” but no progress has been reported, KBS said.
The South Korean governor has defended his decision to build a similar project, a “Korea-China Culture Town” near the provincial capital of Chuncheon, but the project was suspended Tuesday.
Gangwon province said it will “review” the project referred to as “Chinatown,” but the statement means the project is canceled, local network MBN reported.
Kolon Global Corp., a local firm involved in the project, said it is rethinking its plans after South Korean activists expressed opposition to the construction.
A petition on the presidential Blue House website, requesting the termination of the project, collected more than 670,000 signatures this week.