Just as with Seoul 1988, one of the cornerstones of the vision for PyeongChang 2018 was to have a tangible and lasting impact on the host country’s urban landscape and infrastructure.
One of the key areas of focus has been on enhancing the host regions’ housing stock. Over 4,000 new apartments were built to house athletes and media during the Games in PyeongChang and Gangneung, and these have now all been sold for private occupancy.
Another key infrastructure legacy of the 2018 Winter Games has been the creation of a high-speed rail link connecting the Alpensia mountain region and the Gangneung coastal cluster to the capital city, Seoul. The 113.7km high-speed railway line, with trains running at 300km/h, has vastly improved transport options in what was previously the only region in the Republic of Korea not linked to the country’s high-speed rail network.
Not only does the new rail link mean improved travel times to and within the region, it also makes it more attractive as a domestic and international tourism hub. Moreover, it has had a tangible impact on reducing the carbon emissions generated by domestic travel. The railway is energy efficient, using less energy and boasting a carbon footprint one-eighth that of petrol-engined vehicles. It is also time efficient, cutting the travel time between Seoul and Gangneung to less than two hours.
Further improvements to the regional transport system include the construction of new expressways and the straightening of winding access roads, both of which have greatly enhanced accessibility to and within Gangwon province and reduced the burden on the host region’s previously congested road network.
Significantly reduced travel times by high-speed train or by road now allow visitors easy and convenient travel to the province, which is expected to have a long-term benefit for the local economy, and increased possibilities for the development of tourism in the region.
The new roads include a 22-kilometre expressway between Seongnam and Anyang, which has helped reduce the travel time from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport to PyeongChang and Gangneung by 40 minutes, to about 95 minutes.
Meanwhile, a 72-kilometre extension of the expressway between Seoul and Yangyang, Gangwon Province, which was built for the Games, has reduced the travel time from the capital to the remote coastal city to 90 minutes from the previous 130 minutes.
In addition to the new expressways, 16 roads within Gangwon Province were either expanded or added, making travel within the region much more efficient.
Finally, as part of a comprehensive plan to develop PyeongChang and the surrounding areas in Gangwon Province over the next two decades, a special district – covering some 27 square kilometres and divided into five zones – is being developed. Some 40 different projects have been earmarked to promote economic development and bolster the region’s credentials as a major tourist destination and winter sports hub.
According to the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements, this initiative could add 10.5 trillion won to the gross regional product and create 264,390 jobs over the next 20 years.